Free agent smokescreen in Denver? It’s possible


December 30, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil (92) during the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 38-3. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

And away we go!

Free agency season is upon us in the National Football League.  Teams can start negotiating with free agents Friday night and signings can start Tuesday, the opening of the 2013-2014 season.

The Denver Broncos, of course, are a participant in this madcap talent hunt and, while team officials have preached patience and restraint when it comes to spending the big bucks on elderly jocks, you never know.

Case in point:  last season.

As the scouting combine was under way in Indianapolis and the draft on everyone’s mind, Bronco President Joe Ellis, who deals with budgets and other mundane nuts and bolts, asked Executive Vice President of Football Operations  John Elway, “Why don’t we try to sign Peyton Manning?”

Manning, of course, had just been released by the Indianapolis Colts and just undergone his fourth surgery on his neck.

That bolt out of the blue became 13-3 and an AFC West title for the Broncos.

Then there was the draft:  The Broncos hemmed and hawed, throwing out one smokescreen after another – as most NFL teams are wont to do.

They then pulled off a series of trades in the draft, moving back and acquiring more picks.

Those selections turned into, among others, starting defensive lineman Derek Wolfe, quarterback Brock Osweiler and more young talent that is still with the team.

A method to their madness?

You betcha.

Think there might be similar smokescreens now?

From the Where There is Smoke There is Fire Dept.:  Peter King, Sports Illustrated’s NFL guru, Denver is currently in the lead in the Darrelle Revis trade sweepstakes.

Then this trade rumor popped up last week:  Elvis Dumervil, the defensive end renowned for his sacks, would head to the New York Jets along with Denver’s No. 1 draft pick for cornerback Revis.  According to, that trade offer was one of three the Jets received for Revis the last week in February.

Want more?

In a recent ESPN Insider story detailing the most overvalued NFL players, the No. 1 player on the defensive list was Dumervil.

The list pointed out the Dumervil, a $15.6 million cap hit this season (almost in Manning territory), was the 13th-worst run-stopping defensive end in the league and had eight costly penalties.

Would a dozen more sacks be worth the huge cap hit, Insider asked.

It makes you wonder if Elway & Co. – who seemingly always consider all angles – have considered a move that would have Elvis leaving the building.

If the Broncos do indeed pull off the trade rumored above, with Revis and no No. 1 draft pick, the Broncos would likely end up with more freed-up money for more free agents than if they stand pat.

Just something to chew on.

Trade or no, much does remain on the free-agent agenda.  We’ve mentioned it before, but the front burner for Denver would include addressing the interior of the defensive line, secondary, offensive line and possibly running back.

Several players the Broncos may have been looking at have been franchised in the past week, meaning they are stuck with their previous team (yes, Denver franchised offensive tackle Ryan Clady).

Henry Melton is back with Chicago, taking the top defensive tackle off the board.  Another DT, Randy Starks, was franchised by the Dolphins.

One defensive tackle who makes some sense for Denver and is available is Terrance Knighton, a 330-pounder from Jacksonville who played for Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio with the Jags.  He is a run-stuffer the Broncos seek.

As for offensive linemen that may have been eyed, tackle Branden Albert was franchised by the Chiefs.  There are still a bundle of free agents out there that the Broncos may be able to afford like tackles Sam Baker of Atlanta and Jermon Bushrod of the Saints and Bryant McKinnie, who stonewalled Dumervil as Baltimore beat Denver in the playoffs.  The top-rated offensive tackles, Sebastian Vollmer of New England and Andre Smith of Cincinnati, will likely re-sign with their teams.

In the secondary, one of the top safeties, Jairus Byrd, was franchised by Buffalo.  There are plenty of D-backs available, however, including Atlanta’s Brent Grimes and William Moore, Sean Smith of Miami, Aqib Talib of New England and Dashon Goldson of San Francisco.

If Denver doesn’t bring in Revis, they could seriously consider one of the above.

Running backs?

Shonn Greene of the Jets, Ahmad Bradshaw of the Giants and Michael Turner, just released by Atlanta, make sense in Denver’s offense in that they are tough runners up the gut.  Reggie Bush of Miami, doesn’t.

Pay close attention for the next several weeks.  Some of what you see above may actually happen.  Then again …

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