As many Denver Broncos pointed out Sunday as they cleaned out their lockers, the team will never be the same again.
Whether one looks at that as a positive (well, the Broncos didn’t win the Super Bowl) or a negative (the team won 11 straight on their way to a 13-3 record and they’re going to change things up?), the truth is there.
“Coming in today, with everybody cleaning out their lockers, you’ll never have the same nucleus, the same group of guys that we have,” linebacker Von Miller said. “Things will change. I wasn’t ready to let it go yet. Especially the way it ended.”
“We know there will be changes, cornerback Champ Bailey added. “I’m hopeful that we can keep most guys here. Guys that are good for us—that’s mostly everybody here. But it’s never going to be like that in this league. Most people are going to change teams, and that’s just the way it goes.”
After working their way to the top of the AFC, the Broncos would undoubtedly like to keep their core together. However, even though most players said that they want to remain a Bronco, the team is looking to build for the future.
How much more does linebacker Keith Brooking have in him? What about Justin Bannan on the defensive line? He’s in his 11th year. What becomes of center Dan Koppen who was signed on to replace J.D. Walton after a season-ending ankle injury.
“We had a special group of guys as far as how we prepared, how we went about our business and when we started winning, you could feel the energy and the hunger,” tight end Joel Dreessen said. “Nobody complained about practice. Nobody complained about meeting times, it was always just like, ‘Hey, let’s go, whatever it takes to go win another one.’”
That’s the hard part about the evaluation process. Relationships on and off the field developed and thrived, and after a successful season, it’s hard to break that up.
The Broncos weren’t expected to go out like that. The team’s 13 wins tied for the second most in franchise history. The Broncos have advanced to the Super Bowl four of the past five times that they earned the AFC’s No. 1 seed. The team was ranked 4th in total offense and second in total defense, making them the only NFL club in the Top 5 in each category in 2012.
All expectations in the regular season were more than exceeded. That’s why the early post season exit stings so bad.
Yesterday we brought you the list of restricted and unrestricted agents on the Broncos roster which includes Brooking, Bannan, Brandon Stokley, and Tracy Porter.
Here’s a look at other free agents around the rest of the league.
The future is now, and preparations are underway.