So Christmas came early in Broncos’ Country as John Elway, Joe Ellis, and the Denver Broncos addressed a few areas of need within the first week of free agency. They solidified the safety position with T.J. Ward, cornerback with Aqib Talib, and defensive end/pass rush with DeMarcus Ware. Then on Sunday night, rumors swirled that former Pittsburgh Steelers‘ wide receiver, Emmanuel Sanders was at Dove Valley to take a physical and pending said physical, would sign a contract with the orange and blue. Those rumors turned to an actuality on Monday. Sanders will replace former Broncos’ receiver, Eric Decker; who signed a 5-year contract with the New York Jets.
I saw a hysterical Twitter post in relation to Decker that read:
“Going from the Broncos to the Jets is like leaving Kate Upton for Honey Boo Boo’s mom.”
Or I guess you can say it’s like leaving Jessie James for Honey Boo Boo’s mom.
<<Back on track>>
So Sanders will replace Decker and that will give Peyton Manning two home run threats – Sanders and Demaryius Thomas – on either side of the field. The receiving corps rounds out with a re-signed Andre’ Caldwell, Wes Welker (Whose 2014 contract option was picked up by Denver), and Julius Thomas (who’s under contract through 2014). The 2014 roster of wide receivers is even more dangerous than in its record-breaking 2013 campaign. Additionally, if Head Coach, John Fox and special teams coordinator, Jeff Rodgers want to use “Bubba” Caldwell as a replacement of Trindon Holliday on kick returns, then they have upgraded there as well. And you have to think that receiver depth might be addressed in the draft or with a Rod Smith-like un-drafted free agent (if we could only get that lucky again).
So now that those areas of need have been addressed, and most of the available salary cap money has been exhausted, where does The Duke go from here? Well I believe that we still need an upgrade and depth on the offensive line. While all-pro left tackle, Ryan Clady will be returning from a foot injury that kept him out of most of the 2013 season, there is still some concern about what to do with right tackle, Orlando Franklin. Franklin was over-matched in the Super Bowl against Seattle’s Michael Bennett and there has been rumored discussions about moving him to left guard to replace Zane Beadles. Beadles left Denver to sign a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars at the beginning of the free agency period. While the Broncos are likely to address the offensive line in the upcoming draft, there is still a need to get proven depth. The Washington REDSKINS just released center, Will Montgomery and he might be somebody that the Broncos’ brass will consider. The 31-year old Montgomery made $1.9 million last season and played in all 16 games. It stands to reason that unless another team comes in and overpays for him, Denver can probably get him for about $1.5 million. In that scenario, for now it would be likely that Manny Ramirez, the Broncos’ center in 2013, might be moved out to right tackle. No matter who the Broncos’ bring in to reinforce the offensive line, we must get much nastier up front if we have hopes of winning a Super Bowl.
One last item on the shopping list has to be a running back to replace Knowshon Moreno, who became a free agent. One of the replacements could be Moreno himself. Since there has only been lukewarm interest in the 6th year veteran out of Georgia from Atlanta, the Broncos could resign him at a reduced rate. While versatile, I believe that just like with the offensive line, we need a bit of “nasty” in the running game. One thing I took away from the Super Bowl was that Seattle, in no way, thought we were going to run the football. Their defensive scheme all but proved that out. As hard as this is to believe, PFM will have games where he doesn’t throw for 400 yards and 6 touchdowns. I’ve said it before, we have to make opponents fear the run even if the offense runs through Manning primarily. While I like Moreno a lot, I would like to see Elway go out and find a bruiser. LaGarrette Blount would fit that role perfectly. Not only would a guy with the last name of Blount be right at home in Colorado, his 6′ 250 lb frame would be perfect for gaining those hard yards. The 6th year pro out of Oregon can not only run over but can also run around would-be tacklers. He showed better than average speed in the open field. He along with Montee Ball would create quite the 1-2 punch in the Broncos’ running game.
Whether or not my wish list comports to that of John Elway’s remains to be seen. One thing I feel comfortable with is Elway’s handling of free agency. For the third straight year, he, Tom Heckert, and Ellis have hit a grand slam and if these are things that are needed to bring Lombardi’s trophy home where it belongs, they’ll figure it out.