Denver Broncos miss out on Earl Mitchell, but hope is not lost
The Denver Broncos did not win the Earl Mitchell sweepstakes, but hope is not all lost. The team will have ample opportunity to upgrade the defense…
The Denver Broncos didn’t sign Earl Mitchell despite their best attempts over the course of the last week, as the San Francisco 49ers made the best financial pitch and John Lynch stole one from John Elway…
According to a report by Mike Klis, the Broncos were definitely in the mix on Mitchell and even made him an offer:
The Broncos took the financially responsible route in negotiations with Mitchell. Paying $4.5 million in year one would have been a pretty significant hit on the Broncos’ cap prior to free agency, though it could have been offset by another roster move or two. Mitchell would have provided the Broncos with a versatile talent up front, similar to what Vance Walker brought to the table as a defensive end that could also play some nose tackle.
Mitchell’s financial stability with San Francisco was simply too much to pass up — the opportunity to get a fourth year (his age 33 season) and also the $1.5 million raise he received this year (was due $4 million from Dolphins).
It’s hard to blame Mitchell, who is 29 and not likely to get another big money contract after this one. This wasn’t anything that’s breaking the bank for San Francisco. In fact, for them, this is nothing. The 49ers have just under $82 million in estimated cap space right now, and that’s factoring in a $19 million hit from Colin Kaepernick.
The Niners now have a very interesting defensive line if they use a three-man front with former Oregon Duck first round draft picks DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead to go along with the big, physical veteran in Mitchell.
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It will be teams like San Francisco that compete with the Broncos and other teams with good but not ridiculous cap space this offseason. Mitchell choosing San Francisco — one of the worst teams in the NFL — over the likes of Denver, Seattle, and Atlanta is hopefully not a sign of things to come for all free agents the Broncos target.
As John Elway has said in the past, he wants players who want to be Denver Broncos. Of course, Mitchell probably would have loved to have been on the Broncos, but money talks. The Broncos are going to have to speak up a little louder for some bigger fish in free agency, and this could be a great learning experience for them as they get set for the open market.
There are a number of other exceptional defensive linemen available this year in free agency, so the Broncos will have their shot at upgrading with the impending departure of Sylvester Williams and a need at defensive end opposite Derek Wolfe.