Broncos Bringing in Free-Agent OT Demar Dotson for a Visit, per Report
In case you missed it, starting right tackle Ja'Wuan James — yes, the 52 million-dollar man who played exactly 63 snaps last year — opted out of the 2020 season earlier this week, literally leaving the Denver Broncos in the lurch.
The Broncos played almost all of last season with Elijah Wilkinson at right tackle in place of James to mixed results, putting it kindly. A natural guard, Wilkinson was mostly a liability at right tackle, though his willingness to stop the gap was commendable.
While Wilkinson will likely continue to project as the Broncos' starting right tackle with James off the board, the team is poised to bring in some outside help to bolster the depth at worst and perhaps even the starting lineup at best.
According to KUSA's Mike Klis, the Broncos are bringing in veteran OT Demar Dotson for a visit.
"Broncos bringing in former TBay starting RT Demar Dotson for visit, sources tell 9News. Dotson must first go through COVID-19 testing, then physical. If all works out, Dotson would add OT depth to Bolles/Wilkinson after Ja'Wuan James opt-out. Elway knows how to audible," Klis tweeted on Saturday.
Dotson is an 11th-year pro who's spent the entirety of his NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after entering the league as a college free agent out of Southern Mississippi in 2009. He's an eight-year starter who'll turn 35 in October.
Although his name wasn't uttered as often as the likes of Jason Peters, Kelvin Beachum, or Cordy Glenn in the offseason free-agency buzz, Dotson is a viable right tackle candidate and actually fits the profile of what the Broncos need quite well. Regardless of one's opinion on James, the Broncos are locked into his guaranteed contract in 2021, which means, whomever the team signs to step in this year is likely to be offered a very short-term deal.
Then again, starting left tackle Garett Bolles will be a free agent in 2021, so the Broncos could have need of a more long-term option. If Bolles plays well this season, though, as his fellow trenchman and close friend Dalton Risner believes, there's a chance the Broncos will re-sign him.
Dotson started 15 games at right tackle for the Bucs last season. Of all the available free-agent tackles, which currently includes the aforementioned Glenn, as well as Donald Penn, Dotson was the highest-graded based on last season's action.
Dotson ranked No. 31 among qualifying tackles with a 71.0 grade via Pro Football Focus. PFF gave Dotson a 72.4 grade as a pass-blocker and a 67.3 grade as a run-blocker. In our Mile High Roundtable this week, more than one MHH staffer advocated for the Broncos to sign Dotson.
For comparison's sake, Wilkinson earned a 59.6 cumulative grade last year, ranking him No. 59 among tackles, with Bolles finishing No. 18 at 76.1. When it comes to grades, fans would be wise to take PFF with a grain of salt but they can sometimes be a useful barometer.
Bottom line is, Dotson is an experienced vet who would immediately upgrade the Broncos' tackle depth. Per Klis, Bolles and Wilkinson would still be penciled in as the book-end starters but Dotson — if signed — would compete with both.
It sounds like the Broncos have already made their decision. Now it's simply a matter of coming to terms on a deal that makes sense to Dotson, as well as passing the physical and virus test. Stay tuned.