Editor’s note: This is a guess post from Kevin Roberts of Fantasy Football Overdose. You can follow the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more Denver Broncos News and Rumors visit Fantasy Football Overdose – your online source for anything about fantasy football.
The Denver Broncos had an awesome season in 2013. Granted, it went down in flames with a crushing 43-8 loss in the Super Bowl to the Seattle Seahawks, but we can’t ignore the good.
After all, the Broncos put up the most points in NFL history on offense, went 13-3 and watched Peyton Manning break the records for the yardage and passing scores in a single season.
That was the positive. Unfortunately, there was a negative, and it had to do with Denver’s inconsistent defense. Von Miller going down with a knee injury added to the mess late in the year, but Champ Bailey’s regressing play and injuries didn’t help, either.
The Broncos could stand to get younger and faster on defense, and with their offense pretty much set, they should focus on that side of the ball in the 2014 NFL Draft. But the draft isn’t until May and there is work to be done.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at five players Denver could either use or should consider in free agency for their defense in 2014:
Aqib Talib, CB, New England Patriots
Chris Harris is a restricted free agent, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is on the open market and Champ Bailey is near the end. Denver will have to likely at least replace DRC, who has admitted he had been contemplating retirement. He also has a history of not giving his best effort. That’s not exactly the type of player you want to commit a huge contract to.
It’s a shame, especially since Rodgers-Cromartie had a rebirth of sorts in Denver and was pretty stellar all season. If they can keep him at a decent price, it will be half the battle. However, if they can’t, they can go for the slightly older Talib, who would be just as effective, if not better. Talib can struggle a bit with mental lapses, but he’s a legit #1 corner and has shutdown ability. I don’t see the Pats letting him walk easily, but it’d be pretty sweet if Denver could steal another gem from under Bill Belichick’s nose.
Vontae Davis, CB, Indianapolis Colts
If DRC prices out or the Broncos want to move on, they should take a look at Davis. When healthy, Davis was fabulous in 2013. He’s salvaged his career and looks like a true top corner. Denver would be wise to lock down a stud corner like Davis, but it would take letting DRC go to do so. Regardless of whether or not the Broncos do pull the trigger on corner in free agency, the position needs to be addressed. That could mean the draft or a late signing or two before the season. For a team trying to win now, though, a guy like Davis makes good sense.
Donald Butler, ILB, San Diego Chargers
If for no other reason than to stick it to the Chargers, Denver should snatch up Butler. He’s going to cost a ton, but Denver would be upgrading over the likes of Paris Lenon and Wesley Woodyard, while also hurting San Diego’s defense at the same time. It’d be an extra slick move considering Butler is just 25 and is arguably the best value at inside linebacker on the open market. Daryl Smith or Karlos Dansby are cheaper, more experienced options, but Butler would be an excellent signing.
Chris Clemons, S, Miami Dolphins
Denver just needs to get better in coverage in general and Clemons excels in that department. He also has the size and build to instill his will in the middle of the field and at just 28, would be a solid 3-4 year signing. Mike Adams is a free agent and there is a hole at safety, so Denver will need to figure something out at the position. Rahim Moore was better in 2013 than he was in 2012, but even he could arguably be upgraded upon, as well. New York’s Stevie Brown would probably be a cheaper addition, although he did miss 2013 with a torn ACL.
Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings
Allen is 32 and not quite as he was a few years ago, but he’s still relentless in pursuit and has a variety of moves that help free him up to make plays. He’s not bad against the run, either, so Denver really wouldn’t be losing much by bringing him in. He might hold out for one more big contract, but there are more explosive, younger options on the open market. Contending for a title might get him over the hump and in a Broncos uniform, though. Greg Hardy would be nice, sure, but Allen would help the pass-rush and Denver wouldn’t have to pay quite so much money to land him.
As is the case with Rodgers-Cromartie at corner, Denver could also always turn back to one of their own free agents in Shaun Phillips. He’s 33 and could quickly enter his decline phases, but he was surprisingly effective in 2013 with 10 sacks. It’s asking a lot for him to play at that level again, but bringing him back is probably their cheapest move.
The wild card spot for Denver could be defensive tackle. If Derek Wolfe struggles to return from his seizure issue, the Broncos may want to look into beefing up their line. They’re aging down in the trenches anyways, so adding a young stud like Linval Joseph could be something to think about.
Overall, we know the real problems in Denver don’t stem from the offense. Sure, the Broncos could only put up eight points in the Super Bowl, but they just weren’t on top of their game and their defense wasn’t stopping Seattle, either. To finish the job in 2014, they need to make the necessary moves to get a little more balanced. An improved defense could take a little pressure off the offense, and perhaps the next time they dig themselves a hole their new additions can help create some turnovers to help turn it around. That’s a possibility if the Broncos make the right adjustments, which could include signing one or more of the quality options above.