The Denver Broncos have plenty of cap space to play with in 2020. Will they target skill players on offense like Robby Anderson?
The Denver Broncos have over $60 million in cap space presently, and can free up even more space with a couple of expected roster cuts in the coming weeks.
As the team prepares for free agency with a new offensive staff, the possibility of some aggressive moves on that side of the ball can’t be discounted.
The Broncos have one of the youngest offenses in the NFL and will be led by a first-year starter in Drew Lock in 2020. Lock’s top weapons right now are third-year receiver Courtland Sutton and fellow second-year player Noah Fant.
Outside of those two guys, Lock’s top targets in the passing game are probably not currently on the roster, save for maybe third-year slot receiver DaeSean Hamilton, who came on a bit down the stretch of the 2020 season.
Up to this point, we’ve discussed the possibility of pursuing receivers in free agency and while it seems much wiser for the Broncos to just go straight to the 2020 NFL Draft for receiver help, not every team is going to be able to do that.
Someone’s going to sign this year’s top free agent receivers, and we can’t assume the Broncos won’t be involved.
As much sense as it makes for the Broncos to simply wait to address receiver in the NFL Draft, we know that John Elway’s preference has historically been to address major needs in free agency. Even if Elway would say he agrees that taking a receiver in this draft class is a wise move, he may not agree with ignoring free agency altogether.
The Broncos didn’t agree with my warning last year not to trade for Joe Flacco, and even though it didn’t work out, we know that Elway has a home run swing and he’s not going to stop swinging for the fences.
Elway could certainly take a home run swing on a home run hitter in free agency, New York Jets receiver Robby Anderson.
Anderson is expected to be one of the more hotly pursued receivers on the free agent market, so he’ll undoubtedly have his pick of probably at least six or eight serious teams with similar contract offers to get paid and go to a situation he likes.
Bleacher Report recently predicted that Anderson would land in Denver with a four-year deal. That isn’t substantiated with any sort of interest being reported on the Broncos’ end or from Anderson’s camp, it’s merely a prediction and it’s worth talking about.
It seems likely that Anderson will get a deal that is comparable to what Tyrell Williams signed with the Raiders last offseason, a four-year deal worth $44 million in total money with $22 million guaranteed.
As a matter of fact, their situations are eerily similar both in terms of the potential they’ve shown on sort of limited targets as well as their age, the fact that they are both big-play threats with the deep ball, and both players who will not be considered true WR1 type of players.
In that way, Anderson is exactly the type of player at the receiver position the Broncos need. He has great long speed, has proven himself as a playmaker in that regard, and does a great job after the catch in addition to stretching the field.
Paying an average of $11 million per year for that specific skill when there is so much speed available in the 2020 NFL Draft seems unwise, but Anderson could also bring that skill to Denver in a proven package. There’s less risk in signing a free agent player who has developed a specialized skill compared to drafting a guy and hoping it works out.
Anderson would also get a two-month head start on learning Denver’s offense and gaining chemistry with Lock compared to a rookie, and we know that playing receiver in the NFL is a very difficult thing (as if any position isn’t) for college players to do.
The Broncos don’t really have a veteran presence at any skill position on their offense. Although Anderson has only been in the league since 2016, he would be an elder among Denver’s skill players.
Because the Broncos have such a desperate need for speed in their offense and unquestionably will be devoting some primary draft assets to the wide receiver position in the 2020 NFL Draft, they can give themselves a lot of flexibility by pursuing someone like Anderson.
Keep in mind that a year ago, the Broncos were seriously considering making a play for John Brown, a speedy receiver who ended up signing with the Buffalo Bills.
Signing Anderson to a contract worth $11 or 12 million per season would not cripple the Broncos’ cap situation, and his particular skill set and experience blowing the top off of coverages already could be something the Broncos want to prioritize.
Although many in Broncos Country have their eyes fixed on the 2020 NFL Draft — for good reason — it’s important to consider all options and the possibility remains for Denver to pursue someone like Anderson, even in a shallow free agent receiver group which will undoubtedly get a little deeper in the coming weeks as roster cuts start to come in.