The Denver Broncos don't have picks in the first two rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft, so GM George Paton and head coach Sean Payton are going to have to attack NFL free agency aggressively in order to really fill this team's primary areas of need. And what are those areas of need as of right now?
Depending on who you ask, the clearest areas of need are on the offensive line at tackle, guard, and center, as well as needs on the defensive line (especially if Dre'Mont Jones leaves) and at wide receiver. Looking at the crop of free agents available right now, who are some players that could really help the most?
Let's take a look at five free agents that could end up being impact starters for the Denver Broncos in 2023.
5 NFL free agents who could be impact starters for the Denver Broncos
1. Donovan Smith, OT, Buccaneers
This is a situation where the Denver Broncos would actually have to trade Garett Bolles, as was rumored earlier in the offseason. Donovan Smith has been the starting left tackle for the Buccaneers since he came into the NFL back in 2015. Despite the fact that he's been in the league one year longer than Bolles, Smith is only 29 going on 30 while Bolles is 30 going on 31. It's not a massive difference in age, to be clear, but it's interesting, nonetheless.
Smith has been a model of durability since his career began back in 2015. The 2022 season when he only played 13 games was the first time in his NFL career where he missed more than one game in a given season. Durability and availability are arguably two of the biggest key factors for any Broncos free agent acquisition in 2023, although that's almost an unfair prerequisite.
Pro Football Focus did not grade Smith overly well in 2022 but in the years prior, he was playing at a high level (14th-highest grade in 2021). It might be worth the Broncos trading Bolles for $9 million in savings (roughly) and signing someone like Smith, banking on him returning to 2021 form. Bolles is coming off of a broken leg and if there's draft capital to be had in a trade, it might be worth the Broncos making this kind of swap.