Denver Broncos: Three critical offseason moves

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 19: Su'a Cravens #21 of the University of Southern California Trojans awaits the snap against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on October 19, 2013 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated USC 14-10. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 19: Su'a Cravens #21 of the University of Southern California Trojans awaits the snap against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on October 19, 2013 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated USC 14-10. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Taking a look at three of the most critical offseason moves made by the Denver Broncos, including the addition of Case Keenum…

What were the real game-changing moves of the offseason for the Denver Broncos? I think there will end up being many, as the Broncos re-shaped and renovated their roster (and coaching staff) significantly in 2018, but for this piece, I’ve narrowed it down to three.

The first one is probably a bit obvious, but it’s a move that can’t be overstated.

That move is, of course, the move to sign quarterback Case Keenum to a two-year, $36 million deal.

Over three months ago, I wrote that the Broncos and Keenum were not a match, but that was with the thought that they would also be bringing in a quarterback with the fifth overall pick.

The Broncos must have agreed with that on some level because they not only passed on all quarterbacks at pick number five overall, they didn’t bring in another quarterback at any point in the draft or free agency besides Keenum.

Along with my co-host Brandon Keckler, I discussed the game-changing move of Keenum at length in Episode III of my new podcast, ‘The Juice’ (click to subscribe on iTunes):

Along with the Keenum signing, I think the Broncos did very well with another couple of moves.

The addition of Su’a Cravens to the defense is a game-changer.

For years, it seems like the Broncos have struggled badly to cover running backs and tight ends out of the backfield. They had maybe one good year in there or so where Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall — who both excel in coverage — were on the roster and playing really well together.

On a different level than even Trevathan, however, I think Cravens brings a presence to this team that can really fill a missing piece of Denver’s defense.

Cravens is not a traditional safety to me. He’s also not a typical safety/linebacker hybrid.

I view Cravens as a matchup player that can line up in the slot, in the box, as a free safety, as a strong safety, or blitz from any position on the field.

He’s a weapon for the defense, but I think his style of play allows the Broncos to match up really well against teams with good pass-catching tight ends or running backs.

While the Broncos addressed this major need for their defense by getting a matchup player like Cravens, they have also done a great job of bringing in players that can create that kind of matchup problem offensively.

If you listen to the podcast, I love what Keckler says about Troy Fumagalli, a fifth-round pick who excels at making plays in clutch situations from the tight end position.

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It’s not just that the Broncos brought in a great all-around tight end (Fumagalli is an excellent blocker and receiver), but that they addressed a major need for this team with a lack of players that can exploit the middle of the field.

Fumagalli can sit down in zones and move the chains on third down, or he can make contested catches downfield with a huge catch radius. Despite an apparent lack of ‘elite’ athleticism, Fumagalli is capable of providing the Broncos with that outlet they have been lacking, along with the projected emergence of Jake Butt.

In addition to Fumagalli, obviously the return of Butt and the pickups of DaeSean Hamilton and Courtland Sutton factor in here. The Broncos have desperately lacked that third option in the middle of the field, and Fumagalli proved himself to be one of the most effective short/mid range passing targets in college football.

With Keenum’s ability to play under pressure, and his breakout 2017 campaign, along with the matchup possibilities of Su’a Cravens and Troy Fumagalli, the Broncos have made some moves this offseason that can flip the script and turn things around fairly quickly.