The Denver Broncos’ roster currently stands at at 88 players, two short of the NFL’s current maximum of 90 as we enter into training camp. Despite having a relatively small amount of cap space, the Broncos have found significant contributors and even starters for their team after training camp started in the free agent pool.
To be specific, guys like Paris Lenon, Keith Brooking, and Jim Leonhard have been brought in after the start of training camp and wound up playing somewhat significant roles on top contenders in the AFC in 2012 and 2013.
The Broncos’ roster has been reconstructed in a big way since John Elway came on, so the Broncos’ needs don’t exactly necessitate such moves this season, but there are areas of concern yet heading into camp, areas that could potentially be addressed via free agency if the Broncos wanted.
Here are five names you might see pop up on the transaction wire for the Broncos as training camp progresses.
Running Back, Pittsburgh Steelers
La’Rod Stephens-Howling, AKA “Hyphen”, is formerly one of the most explosive two-way backs in the NFL. In addition to his ability to catch passes out of the backfield, this is a guy who was once one of the most dynamic return men in the NFL. The Broncos don’t really have a solidified situation at KR/PR unless Isaiah Burse takes a stranglehold on it, but I don’t even think he really has any competition at this point. This is also a Broncos team that is potentially going to carry no one older than 23 at the RB spot into the season. That’s encouraging from a youth movement standpoint, but scary in terms of a lack of NFL experience in a Peyton Manning offense. Stephens-Howling is coming off of a torn ACL, but will be 10 months out of surgery soon and could be an intriguing camp addition.
Linebacker, Indianapolis Colts
I struggle to put a linebacker — even two (you’ll see) — on this list based on the fact that the Broncos are already taking 13 into camp. That’s a very large number so adding more to the fray might be overkill, but Angerer is a guy who has produced at a high level in the NFL when he’s healthy, which is rare. He might be worth a flier at the vet minimum if he’s still thinking about playing.
Linebacker, Minnesota Vikings
Bishop is another intriguing name and could be a bargain, but a theme on this list to this point is that guys just can’t stay healthy. For Bishop, it’s been his hamstring and ACL, and that’s tough for any athlete to come back from. He’s 30, but if he’s in shape, he could be a really nice pickup for the Denver defense if they’re not sold on Nate Irving still.
Cornerback, Atlanta Falcons
There was a time not long ago when rumors swirled that the Broncos would try to trade for Asante Samuel. That seems like forever ago, as Samuel is now 33 years old, but he’s also battling injuries and inconsistency in the later portion of his career. Still, the Broncos have shown a willingness in recent years to bring in older cornerbacks who can provide a veteran presence if need be. Last year it was Quintin Jammer. I can’t imagine Samuel is much worse than that alternative.
Cornerback, New York Giants
Another player with multiple knee procedures, Thomas played out the whole 2013 season and through all the struggles, proved he could still play meaningful snaps after his reconstructive knee surgeries. He should be better and stronger in 2014 now two years removed from surgery, but teams have worked him out and looked him over and haven’t bit. His is a situation that could play out into training camp but this is a big cornerback who had 10 INTs between 2009 and 2010.