The Broncos are expected to be an active team on the free agent market this year, and will be the focus of attention for players they not only sign but the ones they let get away.
One area where the Broncos are looking to upgrade is in the department of pass rush, where Mike Klis of the Denver Post says the team will covet an ‘elite pass rusher’ either through the draft or free agency.
Getting an ‘elite’ pass rusher is hard to do, but there are some players in free agency and the draft that have that capability, or at one point had it. Here are some of the top options for the Broncos to first look at in free agency as pass rushers that could really give this team a boost.
Jared Allen, Vikings
Jared Allen is approaching the final years of his NFL career, at least in terms of age and historic trends. He is still a productive pass rusher, a hilarious personality, and a veteran player who could help this team. The Broncos nearly traded for Allen at last year’s deadline, failing to come to terms on a contract re-structure with the Vikings.
Now that Allen is a free agent, his main aim is to find a fair contract and play for a contender. There are plenty of teams who could offer him that, but being that the Broncos have already once expressed interest in him, there is reason to believe they’ll do so again.
Michael Bennett, Seahawks
Over the last two seasons, Bennett has really started coming into his own and could command a sizable contract this offseason. He racked up nine sacks in his final year in Tampa Bay, and when the pass rusher market inexplicable fizzled out last offseason, he ended up signing a one-year deal with Seattle, helping them to win a Super Bowl and Broncos fans know first hand the ways he’s capable of getting to the passer.
Bennett fits well with what the Broncos like because he’s physical, versatile, has great size, and has played for a winning team. Whether or not Bennett would be willing to leave Seattle for Denver remains to be seen, but he’s going to test the open market and see what kind of deal he can come up with.
LaMarr Houston, Raiders
Houston is another player that can play inside or out, and is another that got his hands on Manning in 2013. The star Raiders defender hasn’t been a sack machine in his NFL career, but he’s a productive run stuffer who adds an element in the passing game as well.
He also hasn’t missed a game in his four year NFL career.
Justin Tuck, Giants
Tuck is a veteran defender who has played on a Super Bowl champion team that had a second half surge in terms of sack numbers last year.
He’s proven in his NFL career that he can get to the quarterback, but can he do it on a consistent basis? His 11 sacks last year were the most he’s had–by far–since 2010. If the Broncos prefer to go the veteran route, Tuck could be an option.
Michael Johnson, Bengals
Johnson has great size for the position, almost Julius Peppers like, but his numbers dipped significantly this past year after looking like he was on ‘star pass rusher’ trajectory. He is expected to be hotly pursued as one of the top ‘younger’ players on the free agent market, already being connected to former defensive coordinator and now Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer with the Vikings.