The Denver Broncos have had a knack for making headlines over the last few years, and the start of free agency was no different.
Denver got things rolling with the signing of former Charger offensive lineman Louis Vasquez to a four-year $23.5 million contract. The 6′-5″ tall and 335-pound guard was San Diego’s best offensive lineman last year when he started all 16 games they played. He is a stalwart in pass protection and is a big addition to the offensive front.
The contract was also a home run. Vasquez was widely regarded as one of the top offensive guards available along with Andy Levitre, but Levitre signed for $7.8 million a year over his six-year deal. The fact Denver got a solid starter and saved a couple million dollars a year in the process was a big win.
It was also a win considering what it does to the Chargers, possibly Denver’s biggest threat in the AFC West. San Diego’s offensive line is one of the weakest spots on their entire roster. Weakening that unit even more will help the Denver cause next season.
The excitement was just getting started in Denver. In a flurry of moves the next day, the Broncos signed defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and the biggest name of the bunch, wide receiver Wes Welker. Each player provides help at a position of need and they were signed without breaking the bank.
Knighton will be a big presence in the middle of the defensive line and is familiar with defensive coordinator Jack Del-Rio from his time in Jacksonville. He signed a two-year $4.5 million contract and is in line to be a starter this season.
The Broncos weren’t shy about their interest in bringing in some more cornerbacks this offseason, and they proved it by signing Rodgers-Cromartie to a one-year deal worth $5 million. Rodgers-Cromartie has been a reliable starter since he came into the league in 2008 and he made the Pro Bowl in 2009 when he recorded 6 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles.
The biggest name is of course former Patriot Wes Welker. Surprisingly, Denver was able to sign him to a reasonable 2-year $12 million contract. His availability was a surprise considering Tom Brady restructured his contract in an effort to help re-sign him. Although Welker didn’t say so publicly, it seems his divorce from New England wasn’t exactly amicable. He decided to join forces with Peyton Manning and hopefully get Denver over the hump in the AFC. He is a workhorse in the slot and had 672 receptions and 5 Pro Bowls during his time with the Patriots. Along with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, the Broncos will have the most potent receiving corps in the league in 2013.
Even when things didn’t work out perfectly for Denver they still made big news doing so. The only negative to the first week of free agency was the mess created by Elvis Dumervil’s incompetent agent Marty Magid. After rejecting the Broncos final offer at the team-imposed deadline, Dumervil had a change of heart and Magid called back half an hour later to accept a pay cut. That would have been a big win for the franchise, and for a few moments Denver had completed possibly the greatest offseason week in franchise history.
But the late agreement left the team only about 30 minutes to complete the paperwork, and the Broncos didn’t receive the signed contract from Dumervil and Magid until after the 2:00 pm deadline. In order to prevent Dumervil’s $12 million guaranteed contract from kicking in the team was forced to cut him, a move they were going to make anyways before the pay cut was accepted.
Was Magid sandbagging the team in an effort for the guaranteed contract to kick in? Would the deal have been completed if Dumervil had a legitimate agent instead of the “unconventional” Magid? Would it have been easier had Dumervil not been trying to complete a $30 million deal from a Kinkos in Miami? Who knows?
Dumervil fired Magid the next day, but the damage had already been done. Dumervil is currently a free agent and can sign with any team he chooses. There are rumors out there that he would like to fix the mistake he made with the Broncos and head back to Denver, but only time will tell.
With Dumervil’s contract off the books the Broncos find themselves with about $8 million in cap room. One way or another the hole at defensive end will be fixed, and by all accounts the team isn’t done with free agency quite yet.
One thing is for sure; expect to see the Broncos in the headlines again real soon.