A scenario in which Dalton Risner comes back to Broncos could be available

Sep 19, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Denver Broncos guard Dalton Risner (66) against the
Sep 19, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Denver Broncos guard Dalton Risner (66) against the / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Nearly two weeks into the free-agent signing period, Dalton Risner remains without a team.

Heading into free agency, Risner was one of the Denver Broncos' most notable unrestricted free agents. Though he has had an up-and-down career with the team on the field, he was the team's Walter Payton of the Year nominee and is considered to be a great teammate, even if his most memorable moment from the 2022 season was yelling at his own quarterback, Brett Rypien, on the sideline during a humiliating loss on Christmas Day.

Most expected the Broncos not to pursue a new deal with Risner in free agency but part of that was due to a belief that another team would offer him a big deal. That has not happened.

So with Risner still available, there can be only three reasons he hasn't signed with a new team:

- He is looking for the right, most comfortable deal for he and his family.

- He is asking for too much money.

- There is no real interest from any other teams.

It's unlikely that no team is interested in a 27-year old offensive lineman who had the talent to be drafted in the second round and is still in the prime of his career. It is likely, however, that Risner is weighing his options or he's expecting more than teams are willing to give.

So why shouldn't Risner consider re-signing with his hometown team on a shorter, prove yourself kind of deal? Well, he absolutely should. And if he is interested in that, the Broncos should be too.

According to Over the Cap, the Broncos only have about $7.3 million in available cap space, so Risner would have to take a discount on what he was likely expecting. However, if he could have a big 2023 season, he could reset the market for himself next year and either get a new, more lucrative deal from the Broncos or shop himself around to other teams again.

Why would the Broncos make this move? Mostly, to complete the offensive line by getting a more sufficient answer at the center position.

The team could shift Quinn Meinerz over to center and put Risner back at one of the guard spots along with free-agent signing Ben Powers. That could be a terrific interior.

Then, to get some of that cap space back, the Broncos could cut Lloyd Cushenberry with a post-June 1 designation or trade him and that move would return $2.7 in cap space.

Cushenberry was a third-round pick in 2020 but he has underachieved for the team, much more than Risner has. He played in just eight games last season after suffering a groin strain in November and was left on injured reserve for the rest of the season. He was healthy enough to return at one point, and the team chose not to bring him off IR.

A change of scenery seems like it would be good for him.

Risner has struggled in pass protection but he graded in the top 10 in run blocking with PFF and was penalized just one time all season. Based on the free-agent signings of offensive linemen Powers and Mike McGlinchey, blocking tight end Chris Manhertz and fullback Michael Burton, Sean Payton clearly plans a run-first offense in Denver.

Risner could fit into that quite well.

If Risner is unable to find the "perfect deal" for himself soon, this is an option that could make sense for both sides.

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