Denver Broncos Free Agency 2013: Grading The Day Two Moves


Wes Welker (83) runs with the ball during the third quarter against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

It’s time to grade the Denver Broncos’ moves on the second day of free agency.

The massive shakeup in the NFL happened when the team signed Wes Welker to a two-year, $12 million deal.

Welker has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of the last five seasons, and he’s received first-team All-Pro recognition from the Associated Press in four of the last five years. His five 100-catch seasons represent the most in league history and his 18 career games with 10 or more receptions are tied for first place in NFL annals. While with the Patriots, Welker had 672 receptions in six seasons. That’s what Peyton Manning is getting in 2013. Happy one-year anniversary from John Elway.

Rod Smith is the only other undrafted NFL player with more career catches (849) than Welker (768).

Not only did the Broncos get another great target for Manning, but they got him at a bargain price.

Immediately after the Broncos signed Welker, they agreed to a two-year deal with defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. Knighton will accompany Kevin Vickerson on the defensive line to build a 665-pound wall to block the gaps.

The five-year veteran will be reunited with defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. Knighton started 50-of-61 regular season games for the Jaguars and totaled 259 defensive stops, 21 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, one interception, and three forced fumbles.

Knighton ranked second on the Jaguars with 17 quarterback pressures and tied for the team lead with two forced fumbles in 2012.

To close out the very busy day, the Broncos got their starting right cornerback in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. They signed him to a one-year deal worth $5 million.

The former first round draft pick (16th overall) played for the Arizona Cardinals for three seasons before being traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. He had his best year in 2009 when he had 50 tackles and six interceptions. Last season, Rodgers-Cromartie had 51 tackles and three interceptions.

This is a guy that fill that void that was left when Darrent Williams was shot and killed in 2007.

Before the action really got going Wednesday afternoon, the Broncos signed linebacker Stewart Bradley. Bradley started for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008 and 2010. Once he was traded to the Cardinals, he was a backup linebacker. The 258-pound linebacker was taken in the third round of the 2007 draft. He has 207 tackles, three sacks, and three interceptions in his career. He will compete with Nate Irving at middle linebacker.

“I talked to other teams and stuff, but I think overall, for me, this is the best fit,” Bradley said Wednesday afternoon. “I grew up in Salt Lake [City], which is close to here—kind of the same weather environment. That was another factor that was important for me.”

John Elway signing most of the free agents to two-year deals shows that he’s taking a win now, win at all costs approach. The Broncos have spent about $66 million on free agent contracts so far.

Now’s the time. Give the Broncos a grade for day No. 2.

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