Major changes are needed on the defensive side of the ball if the Denver Broncos want to finally get back to playing winning football. I could make the argument that the biggest priority for the Broncos in 2024 is the defense, not the QB. Yes, QB is the most important position and that should be the top priority for the Broncos, but the defense is in urgent need of help.
The rush defense was bad. The pass defense was not good. The pass rush was among the worst in the NFL. Really, the only thing the defense had going for them was that insane turnover streak they rode during their mid-season turnaround. Other than that, it was a bad unit all year, and I do think there is an argument to fire Vance Joseph.
The defense needs a plethora of new starters in 2024, and contrary to popular belief, the Denver Broncos can get themselves a ton of cap space. So the argument that they "don't have cap space" is simply not true:
The Broncos can create cap space pretty easily, and this comes from the cap space guru and founder of Over The Cap. So, I'm going to try and rebuild the defense in this article, beginning with making changes with the current, notable defensive players:
Denver Broncos: Going all-out to fix the defense in 2024
1. In-house roster tweaks
The Broncos just don't have much juice at all along the defensive front. The first move I will make is cutting DJ Jones and saying goodbye to Jonathan Harris, the two other starters along the DL next to Zach Allen. Cutting Jones saves the team $10 million and Harris is simply not a good player, or to be easier on him, just not an NFL starter.
That would give Denver two starting spots to fill along the DL. I'd then say goodbye to Josey Jewell in free agency. He's a fine player, but I think Denver could get younger and more explosive with this spot, perhaps paving the way for Drew Sanders or Jonas Griffith in 2024. The Broncos could also add an ILB in free agency, but I don't really like the idea of the Broncos paying two ILBs, as Alex Singleton is making $6 million a year with the team.
In the secondary, I think the Broncos should plan to move on from Fabian Moreau. He was filing in fine as the CB2 opposite Patrick Surtain II, but had a rough stretch to end the year. However, I think Moreau could be a nice backup player for them. I'm also going to be moving on from Justin Simmons. He's 30 years old and has one year left on his contract. I think the Broncos can get a 3rd-round pick for Simmons, and trading him would save $14.5 million on the cap. Those savings are too great to pass up.
I think bringing PJ Locke III back to be one of the safety starters would be a wise idea, as Locke had a nice year for the team. However, I'm personally not going to bank on Caden Sterns returning, JL Skinner developing, or Delarrin Turner-Yell all of a sudden developing into an NFL starter. I think filling at least one starting safety spot opposite Locke and adding a CB2 is the minimum in the secondary for 2024.
And as for the pass rushers, I think Denver needs to make a splash move with that unit, as the trio of Baron Browning, Jonathon Cooper, and Nik Bonitto are nice rotational, second-string players who would really play well in third down, mop-up duties and would benefit from playing alongside a stud pass rusher like pending free agent Danielle Hunter.