Have the Broncos Done Enough in 2020 Free Agency?
When it comes to free agency, it's a wrap for the Denver Broncos. With the NFL mandating that all clubs send executives and team employees home until the second week of April, it doesn't completely slam the door on GM John Elway making additional roster moves but it does make it unlikely.
For the most part, barring a tweak here or there, the Broncos have made what moves the team planned on making this free-agent period. With the NFL Draft next up on the docket in late April, Elway and company still haven't navigated the collegiate pool of talent, which is arguably where the cornerstones of every roster are procured.
But with free agency in the books, the question is, have the Broncos done enough to fill the most glaring roster holes? Elway believes so but let's do a quick review.
A.J. Bouye, CB: The first move the Broncos made came way before the new league year even opened, acquiring Bouye from Jacksonville in exchange for a fourth-round pick. As Bouye arrived Chris Harris, Jr. departed for L.A., like two ships passing in the night.
The Broncos needed to lock down their top cornerback spot on defense and Bouye fills the need. The team is more confident in Bouye as a scheme fit for Vic Fangio than Harris was, which, if true, could result in a modest upgrade this fall.
Graham Glasgow, IOL: Next, the Broncos paid big money to sign the consensus top interior offensive lineman on the market, giving ex-Detroit Lion Glasgow a four-year, $44 million contract. Glasgow can play either guard slot or center competently, which makes up for the Broncos losing both Connor McGovern and Ronald Leary.
This team still needs to solve its center position, if the buzz is true that Elway and O-line Coach Mike Munchak view Glasgow as a right guard. If the Broncos had to play football tomorrow, it would likely be Patrick Morris starting at center but it's a position that might not be fully crystalized 'til after the draft.
Jurrell Casey, DL: Next, the Broncos filled a glaring need on the defensive line by acquiring Casey via trade from Tennessee. Elway gave up just a seventh-round pick for a lineman who's coming of five consecutive Pro Bowl seasons.
Casey ostensibly fills one of the two roster holes vacated by Derek Wolfe and Shelby Harris. If the Broncos had to play football tomorrow, the second-year Dre'Mont Jones would likely start at defensive end opposite of Casey, with big Mike Purcell at nose tackle, the latter of whom was brought back on a one-year RFA tender.
Jeff Driskel, QB: Next up, the Broncos signed the free-agent Driskel to a two-year deal. Driskel brings a modest resume of NFL experience to the table and will serve as Drew Lock's backup for the foreseeable future.
With Driskel in the fold, the Broncos finally cut bait with Joe Flacco, waiving the veteran signal-caller with a failed physical designation. Brandon Allen, who started three games for Denver last year, remains unsigned while 2019 undrafted free agent Brett Rypien remains under contract.
Melvin Gordon, RB: Next, the Broncos paid big money to sign the ex-Chargers running back. The Broncos gave Gordon a two-year deal worth $16 million.
For those still scratching their heads, and wondering what the Gordon addition means for Phillip Lindsay, understand this; it all comes down to receptions out of the backfield and touchdowns, both of which Gordon can provide in spades. If you're comparing the incoming with the outgoing, almost everyone would agree that Gordon is an upgrade over the departed Devontae Booker.
Nick Vannett, TE: Next up, the Broncos made a surprising move to add Vannett, even though the tight end position was one of relative strength. With four recent draft picks in the tight end room, including 2019 first-rounder Noah Fant, the Broncos could have gotten by with the unit as it was but with a new coordinator, the team wanted an extra veteran who could both catch and block.
Sam Martin, P: Lastly, the Broncos signed veteran punter Sam Martin to a three-year deal. For too long, the punter position has been a vulnerability for Denver and kicking in the thin air of Mile High, Martin could give the Broncos a weapon at punter.
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With that covering all the outside additions the Broncos have made, let's take a quick look at the homegrown players Elway and company brought back. All-Pro safety Justin Simmons was franchise-tagged, locking him in for 2020, although the Broncos hope to get a multi-year extension done with him before the season starts.
When it comes to restricted free agents, the Broncos tendered the aforementioned Mike Purcell, as well as backup offensive lineman Elijah Wilkinson, who has started a combined 20 games for the team over the last two seasons. Wilkinson can play guard or tackle which is a big boon for the team from a swing perspective.
As far as exclusive rights free agents, the Broncos tendered a handful of players, headlined by wide receiver Tim Patrick. That group also includes Trey Marshall, who likely steps in for the departed Will Parks as the third safety if the Broncos had to play football soon.
Other one-year deals the Broncos handed out brought back rush linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu, who provided 3.5 sacks down the stretch last year in relief of the injured Bradley Chubb, as well as cornerback De'Vante Bausby, who started two games for Denver last year before suffering a season-ending neck injury. Denver also re-signed depth linebacker and special teams maven Joe Jones.
Derek Wolfe and Shelby Harris remain unsigned. With an estimated $19 million or so in remaining cap space, the Broncos will still have a little room to make another free-agent addition or two, as well as signing the future 2020 draft class.
Will it be enough? On it's face, it's difficult to argue that Elway's additions completely compensate for all of the departures. But fortunately, if the last two draft classes are any indication, the Broncos can put this offseason over the top and complete Elway's mini-rebuild, by knocking it out of the park come April 23.