BUILDING AN OFFENSIVE LINE
Whatever the Denver Broncos have up their sleeves this offseason, it has to involve a complete overhaul of the offensive line.
After witnessing what we have this season, it would be very hard for me to understand or see a scenario where John Elway doesn’t spend his primary assets this offseason upgrading the offensive line, which has been an area of weakness now for a few seasons.
To that end, there are some very interesting names available this offseason that the Broncos will probably consider, the first of which is going to be left tackle Russell Okung, who hasn’t been perfect this season by any means, and is set for a significant pay increase if the Broncos opt to pick up his impending team option.
If the Broncos exercise the team option, Okung would be under team control at under $12 million per season for 2017 and 2018, and then they would be able to get off the hook again prior to 2019.
I know Okung has struggled at times this season, but are the Broncos going to find a more viable alternative at left tackle right now? That’s a huge question mark for me. It’s a huge investment to consider, so the Broncos have some serious thinking to do there.
There are a couple of former Wisconsin Badgers on the market this offseason, namely Ricky Wagner (Baltimore) and Kevin Zeitler (Cincinnati) that could be of particular interest to the Broncos.
Chance Warmack, who has been on injured reserve since September, has been a starting right guard for the Tennessee Titans since he was drafted in 2013 and could be an interesting option for the Broncos as well.
One way or another, the Broncos need to make significant upgrades on the offensive line, and there are some good players available in free agency this year. In addition to Okung, Wagner, Zeitler, and Warmack, the Broncos could look to get their hands on top free agent linemen like Ronald Leary (Dallas), T.J. Lang (Green Bay), or Larry Warford (Detroit).
Another option for Denver is to pursue linemen via trade. The idea of adding Joe Thomas at left tackle is as appealing as any idea for the Broncos this offseason. I don’t know if it would cost them a first round pick (with just two years remaining on Thomas’ deal after this season) but you’d have to consider the value of protecting your quarterback and getting that much more tough up front.
The names are out there. The help is out there. The Broncos just have to go and get it.