Denver Broncos need to bring back this former offensive player
By Amir Farrell
With QB Russell Wilson aiming to have a major comeback season in 2023 from an injury-riddled 2022 campaign behind poor offensive line play among other things, the team has made two great additions to their offensive line through free agency in G Ben Powers and RT Mike McGlinchey that cost them a combined $139.5M over the total earnings of their respective contracts. A complete investment into two relatively young players who look to make life much easier on their veteran QB as opposed to the beatings he endured towards the end of the 2022 season.
Since these blockbuster signings, however, the Broncos have failed to address their depth on the offensive line, more particularly at offensive tackle. Just hours after the legal free agent tampering period began in March, former Broncos offensive tackle Calvin Anderson signed a two-year deal with the New England Patriots, signifying his value and skillset as a premium swing tackle in the NFL as Bill Belichick coveted the addition early on. Meanwhile, the Broncos' starting LG, Dalton Risner, is still un-signed, further proving truly how valuable Anderson's versatility is to NFL teams.
Yet, George Paton and the front office have yet to add any offensive tackles with a similar skillset and versatility to that of Anderson and thus look to potentially sting the offense if Garett Bolles' reoccurring injury concerns continue on. The team, as of now, has opted to not re-sign free agent Cam Fleming who previously spent the last two seasons in Denver.
Making the case for Cam Fleming back with the Denver Broncos
While Cam Fleming didn't play his best ball in 2021 with QB Teddy Bridgewater leading the way, he had a very solid 2022 campaign given all the circumstances. He was tasked with bouncing back and forth between left and right tackle with the injuries to Garett Bolles and Billy Turner during the season and not to mention, was being coached by one of the worst offensive line coaches in all of football in Butch Barry who was fired the same day as Nathaniel Hackett following an abysmal showing against the Los Angeles Rams on Christmas day.
In 2022, Fleming took a career-high 976 snaps which was 98% of the available offensive snaps in the 15 games he played in. He was able to stay fairly healthy all season for the team and only had four penalties in almost 1,000 snaps. The 30-year-old veteran did allow seven sacks along with 28 pressures however, did perform pretty well given all things considered. He faced some hefty competition off the edge with a bolster of elite pass rushers in the AFC looking to get after the 5 foot 11 Russell Wilson.
Fleming did complete visits with the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this off-season but did not result in any contract negotiations. As it currently stands, here is the Broncos' group of offensive tackles heading into OTAs next week:
- Garett Bolles (6 years EXP)
- Mike McGlinchey (5 years EXP)
- Isaiah Prince (4 years EXP)
- Christian DiLauro (2 years EXP)
- Hunter Thedford (1 year EXP)
- Alex Palczewski (R)
- Demontrey Jacobs (R)
Between the newly signed UDFA rookies in Palczewski and Jacobs, it's likely one of the two makes the 53-man roster considering the team opted not to select an offensive tackle in this year's draft for the seventh consecutive year. Behind Bolles and McGlinchey as the starting tackles on opposite ends, there is absolutely no reliable depth at all. Therefore, it would be very logical to reach back out to Cam Fleming who has experience with the offense, possesses the versatility a young offensive line needs, and also brings the value of veteran leadership as he earned two super bowl rings in his four seasons with the New England Patriots, courtesy of Peyton Manning's 'son', Tom Brady.
Fleming, who projects best as a RT, brings the swing ability the Broncos are desperately in need of and certainly played exceptionally well despite entering his 30s. With their current group, the Broncos are reasonably one injury away from "disaster" and repeating the same issue they found themselves in the final stretch of last season. While GM George Paton seems to not be interested in bringing back the versatile veteran, it is never too late to add much-needed depth to that room, especially considering the lack of talent available at the position in free agency and how the market has significantly dried up over the last few months.