GM John Elway was rumored to be putting the Denver Broncos in the market as major players in the NFL’s version of the October Fire Sale on Tuesday. As it turned out, the Broncos front-office czar wasn’t tuning into the same frequency as the Broncos decided to keep their roster intact as the 2pm MDT trade window closed.
Crucial to the process of trading players is establishing the mutually agreed middle ground where both parties feel like they are winning their end of the deal. While as many as six teams were rumored to have made calls to Elway about cornerback Chris Harris, Jr., with the most concrete interest coming from the Eagles, it suggests the GM's flexibility in doing business just wasn’t there.
Elway set his stall out early in trade proceedings when he successfully maximized his value for Emmanuel Sanders, making the trade with the San Francisco 49ers. When it came to moving Harris, Elway played hardball, holding out for second-round value for his four-time Pro Bowl corner, all the time well aware that his future compensatory pick for Harris could render the team a 2021 third-rounder, depending on how aggressive the Broncos are in free agency next spring.
In addition to Harris the Broncos were thought to be dangling DE Derek Wolfe, RB Devontae Booker and, the recently deactivated, DE Adam Gotsis as trade bait. Other than the productive Wolfe, it’s certainly not a stretch to surmise that potential suitors were simply not that interested in a Denver fire sale of unwanted and inactive assets.
All focus will now turn to the pressing issues of filling the quarterback slot in the aftermath of Joe Flacco’s neck injury. With the Broncos moving towards a youthful QB movement out of sheer necessity, Elway must take stock when rebuilding a balanced roster by mixing in old and new faces.
An anticipated accumulation of further defeats this season is the only remaining and tantalizing silver lining that would provide Elway with an early pick in the star-studded, QB-heavy 2020 NFL Draft class.
Realistically, all the Broncos who were available for trade are as sure as gone by the conclusion of the current campaign, barring some significant changes in heart for all involved. With the exception of Von Miller, who was never on the trade block, every player Denver considered trading was in a contract year.
If employed logically, cool heads would advise Elway that if the olive branch and money were offered to both Harris and Wolfe, they would likely stay around the Mile High City in 2020 and beyond.
Above and beyond getting sentimental over his remaining Super Bowl holdovers as the Broncos move inevitably toward a younger roster, Elway will still need more than a smattering of old heads to help lead their locker room. Proven leaders and high-character individuals are still worth their salt even for teams in rebuilding mode — and possibly even more so.
While it is massively fanciful to picture a scenario where the proven vets would stick around on hometown discounts, if you don’t ask, you don’t get answers. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
At least for the next eight games, the remaining big stars of the Super Bowl 50 team will stay in place as the long goodbye rolls on.