Broncos Enduring Plenty of Roster Turnover in 2015


The Denver Broncos have seen a lot of roster turnover in 2015, and fans are getting a little antsy because compared to previous years, it doesn’t seem like John Elway is doing a whole lot about it.

The fact of the matter is, Elway has done plenty, and the Broncos are making wise decisions while thinking of the future. They have lost a significant amount of players to free agency, but that was to be expected. Maybe some people thought there would be more action at least from the Broncos in terms of keeping their own players, but Elway has been sticking to a plan, and it didn’t involve the guys that were in-house.

Even players that were part of his first draft class as the man in charge of putting the Broncos’ roster together.

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TE Julius Thomas Signs With Jaguars

The first big piece to move for the Broncos was tight end Julius Thomas, who racked up 24 touchdown catches over the last two years. Thomas apparently had sold his home in Denver last year, and according to the rumors that have been floating around, he wasn’t planning on staying in Denver anyway.

That’s a huge problem that the Broncos had to get rid of, no matter how talented he is. Thomas was offered a significant contract by the Broncos, and allegedly turned it down. He’s likely not the only one to do that, but he clearly didn’t want to be in Denver, knowing that he could cash in on an aggressive market.

He proved himself right.

The Broncos missed the oft-injured tight end when they were planning on him being available, but they’ll adjust to him being gone with the addition of Owen Daniels.

OL Orlando Franklin Signs With Chargers

Why did it have to be the Chargers, Orlando?

Franklin was the Broncos’ highest graded offensive lineman last year according to Pro Football Focus, and that was his first year playing the left guard position. He was given over $7 million annually from San Diego and one of the men responsible for his development into the NFL in Mike McCoy, the former Broncos offensive coordinator who is now the Chargers’ head coach.

Franklin was a second round pick of Elway’s, so it was undoubtedly hard to see him go. However, the Broncos simply couldn’t afford to pay him the salary he was looking for on the open market, and while Denver would have liked to have had him back in all likelihood, he was out of their price range.

DT Terrance Knighton Signs With Redskins

After publicly stating his willingness to take a pay cut to stay with the Broncos, Terrance Knighton took his talents to the open market and almost seemingly went down swinging.

Knighton was a captain for the Broncos this past year, and became a fan favorite after his ascent in 2013 when he first signed on as a free agent and prodigy of Jack Del Rio from his days with the Jaguars.

This was a tough loss for the Broncos, but Knighton has struggled maintaining his weight, and signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Washington Redskins. That’s a pretty alarming number and situation to walk into, especially considering the impact Knighton has had in Denver the last two years.

Did he not shop that price around? Did other teams have concerns about his weight?

S Rahim Moore Signs With Texans

Rahim Moore was another former second round pick of John Elway’s first draft class, and he signed on to be a starting safety with the Houston Texans.

Another player who signed a relatively team-friendly deal, Moore signed with the Texans at about $4 million per season, which was a shocking number considering it seems the Broncos could have moved some things around to be able to afford him. They opted for Darian Stewart instead.

Moore had five interceptions this past season including the playoffs, three of which came against Andrew Luck. He’ll do fine in Houston, but the Broncos may have upgraded at this position with Stewart.

DT Mitch Unrein Signs With Chargers

The versatile Unrein was hoping to re-sign with the Broncos, but apparently Denver didn’t make an offer. He explored his options elsewhere, and like Orlando Franklin, he signed with a familiar face in Mike McCoy with the Chargers.

Unrein might be best known for catching a touchdown pass from Peyton Manning in 2012, but he was a decent backup defensive tackle as well.

ILB Nate Irving Signs With Colts

Nate Irving becomes the fourth player on this list to sign with another team from the Broncos’ class of 2011, and he never really developed the way people thought he might.

When he was drafted out of North Carolina State, the Broncos expected him to be a key piece of a defensive rebuild, but he was hindered by injuries, positional switches, and the lockout to start his career before he eventually settled in this past year at middle linebacker.

Irving was playing well this past year before winding up on injured reserve again, and he’ll compete for a starting job with the Colts.

TE Jacob Tamme Signs With Falcons

Jacob Tamme is one of Peyton Manning’s best friends, so it’s weird to see him leave. Tamme’s two-year deal with the Falcons means it’ll be the first time in his NFL career that he won’t be playing with the legendary Manning, but he wanted a new challenge.

The Broncos tried to bring Tamme back, but he moved on.

2016 Compensatory Picks

The Broncos have lost plenty in the way of free agents this offseason, and haven’t signed many of their own. Specifically, the Broncos haven’t signed many unrestricted free agents at all, and that will result in them receiving a decent number of compensatory picks in the 2016 NFL Draft.

That’s likely something John Elway has at the forefront of the plan that’s being put into motion, as the Broncos will have plenty of cap space next offseason with which to work to re-sign Demaryius Thomas, Von Miller, among others.

The compensatory picks this year and next year give the Broncos roster flexibility, trade flexibility, and plenty of young, promising talent to build with as they move toward the end of Peyton Manning’s career in the NFL.