Denver Broncos: Identifying roster needs for each position’s groups in 2021

Denver Broncos RG #61 Graham Glasgow. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos RG #61 Graham Glasgow. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /
2 of 2
Denver Broncos, Von Miller
Denver Broncos OLB Von Miller. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Denver Broncos Defensive Roster Needs

The Broncos lost their organizational icon, Von Miller, right before the 2020 season began. Additionally, their prized acquisition of Pro-Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey and ascending player Mike Purcell was lost early in the season.

On the backend, the Broncos cornerback room looked like a MASH unit as the team trotted out practice squad players for the last quarter of the season.

Despite all the injury attrition, a lot of young players were given an experience that bodes well for their depth in 2021.

Roster Needs for Defensive Line: Bring back Harris, decide on Casey, solidify depth

Shelby Harris “balled out”, as the kids would say. His impact was felt game-in-game-out. Bringing him back should be priority 1B for the Broncos in 2021. Jurrell Casey did not have the impact the team envisioned before being injured for the season. The team can save just under $12 million by letting him go. Maybe the team can restructure his deal, but either way, the team will decide on him early this offseason.

Depth pieces such as DeShawn Williams showed up as he was thrown into action. His play is important as the team most likely will lose DeMarcus Walker in free agency.

Young pieces such as Dre’Mont Jones and McTelvin Agim will be counted on to step up in prominent roles for 2021.

If the team lets Casey go and loses Walker, the team will want to add some more depth before camp.

Roster Needs for Linebacker: Work through Von Miller’s situation; Need a healthy Justin Strnad; bring in an athletic playmaker

Von Miller is an organizational pillar, but his career is hitting a fork in the road. He is the highest-paid player on the team and is returning from a season-ending injury. Add some off-field drama, and the team may decide that Bradley Chubb and Malik Reed (along with a draft pick) can pick up the slack.

George Paton has his hands full as he decides what direction to go. Ideally, the team will extend Miller to a more reasonable cap number so he can remain with the team for some time assuming the offseason issues subside.

Denver Broncos will need to decide on Alexander Johnson early this offseason as he is an RFA. Even if the team retains him, it is unlikely they invest in him or the team’s other stater Josey Jewell long-term.

So enter last year’s 5th-round selection Justin Strnad. Strnad was in line to get a look as a starter before suffering a wrist injury. He will get a chance to breakthrough in 2021.

The team will most likely take a stab at bringing in an athletic playmaker at the inside linebacker position. The team needs to create more turnovers while challenging some of the game’s best tight ends. Right now, the team is limited in what they can do with their current group.

Roster Needs for Cornerback: Healthy Bryce Callahan and a playmaker or two outside

The entire cornerback room is under contract for next season. However, outside of Bryce Callahan, no one made a lot of plays during the season.

The team must decide on A.J. Bouye as he has a large-cap number and can be released with minimal cap penalties. Even if Bouye returns, this group is by far the area that needs the most attention.

Paton should bring in players in the draft that have shown the capability to create turnovers as this team has yet to force many of them under Fangio.

Roster Needs for Safety: Decision for both starting safeties and more depth

It seems likely that Justin Simmons returns on a long-term deal based on Paton’s comments about their All-Pro safety. With his sidekick, Kareem Jackson, the safety position is a strength if both return.

However, Jackson enters the last year of his deal and the team must bring in-depth to prepare for his departure following the 2021 season. Jackson could be a cap casualty based on his cap-number and limited cap-penalties. This highlights the need to focus on some depth and young players groomed to take over the room.

Denver Broncos Special Teams Roster Needs

The special teams’ unit seems to have all the pieces. The specialists played well throughout the year, however, the coverage teams were poor throughout. The blame could fall on special teams coach Tom McMahon or simply could be due to the team’s overall youth. Either way, all of the key pieces should remain so the units must simply play better.

Roster Needs for Broncos Specialists (Kicker, Punter, Long-Snapper): Competition for long-snapper

The Broncos should return all of their specialists. Place-kicker Brandon McManus signed a long-term deal last offseason, and punter Sam Martin is under contract for the next few seasons.

Long-snappers are cheap, so bringing in competition for Jacob Bobenmoyer should not be too difficult for Paton.

Roster Needs for Broncos Punt/Kick Returner: None

Diontae Spencer continues to provide this team with a spark. He returned a punt for a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers along with various field changing returns. Additionally, he keeps the ball safe, which is the most important job of a returner.