It’s been an interesting ride for the Denver Broncos over the last four years. First they lost a Super Bowl with an elite offense. Then general manager John Elway turned his attention to the defense, copying many of the tactics and philosophies of the Seattle Seahawks, and they won a Super Bowl. And then with a better situation at quarterback in 2016, with a defense that was still among the very best in the NFL, they couldn’t even get back to the playoffs.
So how does Elway respond this time?
Obviously they have decisions to make at quarterback which are key, but just as important could be addressing what to do with some of his defensive players, as well as how to manage the contract situation between him and the very first pick of the John Schneider-Pete Carroll era in Seattle.
Impending Free Agents
DeMarcus Ware, DE
Now 34 and coming off of back surgery, Ware would be as cheap as ever one a one-year deal, but is there anywhere to fit him on the Seahawks defense? I don’t think that would be an issue, and Pete Carroll values guys like Ware who have incredibly good attitudes and put forth tremendous effort, but no, there’s no room in the budget for a veteran player who would be somewhat redundant on the roster. Seattle is not his next destination.
Justin Forsett, RB
Another veteran who is not ready to walk away, Forsett probably realizes that there’s a solid chance he doesn’t make a final 53-man roster this year and then that’s it. If he wants to return to the Seahawks and compete for last RB spot, that’s fine by me, but it probably won’t happen. There are teams who have far greater needs at running back.
Sylvester Williams, DT
He’s a solid player expected to leave the Broncos in free agency, but not really a fit for Seattle.
Kayvon Webster, CB
A third round pick out of South Florida, Webster has 32.5” arms and ran a 4.41 at the combine with a 35” vert and 10’5 broad jump, so that alone is enough to make you wonder. There are reports that Denver wants to bring him back but also that Webster wants to get paid more than what the Broncos could potentially offer him. Playing in the best CB unit in the NFL, Webster has only really been on special teams the last two seasons, but he had two tackles and a huge pass breakup in the 2015 AFC Championship win over the New England Patriots. Webster could be the value steal of free agency this year, who knows. Maybe he wants an opportunity to start opposite of Richard Sherman rather than stay behind Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. I’ve got my eye on what happens with Webster.
Russell Okung, LT (released)
The Broncos declined the option on his deal and Okung is a free agent. He is reportedly open to returning to Seattle, though there are no reports that the Seahawks have reached out to him about a reunion.
Did he play well enough to get $12 million per season, which basically puts him in elite company? No. Do the Broncos have to consider the idea that sometimes teams do have to overpay players because the alternatives are much worse? Sure. However, with the release of players like Branden Albert (traded to Jaguars) and former Denver tackle Ryan Clady, as well as Kelvin Beachum and Sebastian Vollmer, this may be the year that teams are less panicky about what they’re going to do at tackle. I’m sure John Schneider will place a call to his agent, aka him, and see what’s shaking. I don’t think the Seahawks are opposed to the idea of bringing him back, but only at a reasonable cost. Just like last year but we saw how that worked out.
Others: WR Jordan Norwood, LS Thomas Gafford, OLB Dekoda Watson, DE Billy Winn, DE Vance Walker
Cap Casualty Candidates
Donald Stephenson, RT
Another potential tackle who could be out there is backup Donald Stephenson, who signed in Denver just a year ago as they were working hard to insure that position. Stephenson had four years with the Kansas City Chiefs after being a third round pick in 2012 but has never held onto a starting gig. That’s an issue. Not one that will scare Seattle away as we saw with Bradley Sowell, but an issue nonetheless.
Trevor Siemian, QB
If the Broncos add Tony Romo, they are expected to release/trade Siemian. I think he’d be at least one of the top five quarterbacks available, if not the best. He played well, at times, in 2016.
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