Oct 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) celebrates his 508th touchdown pass with wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) and tight end Julius Thomas (80) in the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
The Denver Broncos are going to have a very busy offseason. The hiring of a new head coach means new faces on the coaching staff, and new players in the locker room. The NFL offseason is when teams and players find new homes, sign new contracts, and move to new places. The Broncos used the last offseason to bring in some big names, including DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib. This offseason will be focused on in-house free agents.
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In a perfect world, the Broncos would simply resign all of the free agents that they believe will help the team win. However, that is never a realistic outcome. So, who are the high value guys that John Elway and the front office should focus their efforts on. The list might be shorter than think.
It seems as though Elway and new head coach Gary Kubiak believe the organization could move on from Manning and survive.
First, the most important player to bring back into the fold is Demaryius Thomas. Shocker? No, but it must be said that Peyton Manning will want his favorite receiver in the huddle with him when the team takes the field next season. Even with his slow start, Thomas was one of the top receivers in the league in 2014.
Terrence Knighton has to be the number two priority this offseason. If anything can be learned by looking at who made the Super Bowl this season, it is the importance of defense. Pot Roast can anchor the defensive line, clog up the middle, and clear space for players like Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware to run freely. Finding a replacement for a guy like that can be difficult, to say the least.
Julius Thomas has to be on this list. Speculation is that he will not be back next year, as he will be out of Denver’s price range. That being said, players with Orange Julius’s skill set are hard to find. Manning has utilized JT as well as any of his other receivers. Do not expect the next guy who comes to Denver to replace what he can do on the field.
Finally, perhaps the most important “free agent” the Broncos must keep is Peyton Manning. It seems as though Elway and new head coach Gary Kubiak believe the organization could move on from Manning and survive. That, however, does not mean they want him to leave. This Broncos team has an obvious feeling of unfinished business. Elway would probably view the acquisition of Manning as a failure if they do not raise the Lombardi Trophy together.
If this team is truly looking to win now, Peyton Manning must be the quarterback in 2015. There are no guarantees in football, and the Broncos’ 2014 campaign is evidence of that. These free agents could be the key to a Super Bowl run in 2015, but without Manning, a championship is an unrealistic goal.