Vegas Oddsmakers did Not Like Broncos' First Wave of Free Agency

Chad Jensen

The Denver Broncos have made a lot of moves since the NFL's legal tampering window opened last week. Three trades, four outside free-agent signings, two homegrown re-signings and a handful of tenders sum up the maneuverings of GM John Elway. 

But coming off a third consecutive losing season, and with a veritable exodus of homegrown talent, has it been enough to turn the ship around in Denver? Based on what the oddsmakers in Vegas say, the answer is no. 

Bet Online has adjusted their NFL team win totals with the first wave of free agency in the books, which saw the leading betting site alter its projections for the Broncos. Denver's over/under has dropped from 8 to 7.5 wins for 2020. 

Is it Fair?

On one hand, I could see how one could argue that the Broncos didn't markedly improve the roster over 2019. However, to say that the Broncos have gotten worse, I'd have to really analyze the gin-gout. 

Let's give it a try. 

A.J. Bouye replaces Chris Harris, Jr. as CB1

This one is close to being a wash. Although Harris is a four-time Pro Bowler, Bouye is younger. 

Verdict: Push

Jurrell Casey replaces Shelby Harris & Derek Wolfe at DE

This one is a clear upgrade for the Broncos, if you were comparing Casey to Harris or even Derek Wolfe apples-to-apples. We're talking about Denver acquiring a DE who's been to five consecutive Pro Bowls after all. 

Meanwhile, neither Wolfe nor Harris has been to even one NFL all-star game. Does Casey make up for losing both Wolfe and Harris? The answer would depend on your view of Dre'Mont Jones, who's entering his second year. 

So, in that sense, since the Broncos had two vets depart at the position and only one come in, you can make an argument that the roster took a step back because Jones is still so unproven.

Verdict: Downgrade

Graham Glasgow replaces Connor McGovern & Ron Leary on OL

The issue here, similarly to the Casey move, is that Graham can't be expected to replace two outgoing incumbents at different positions. Not only did McGovern depart but the Broncos cut bait also with last year's starting right guard — Leary. 

Straight up, Glasgow for McGovern, as much as I like McGovern, Glasgow is the better player. But Glasgow can't play both center and right guard. If the equation is that Glasgow replaces Leary at RG while holdover Patrick Morris replaces McGovern at center, it would be understandable if Vegas viewed that as a step back. 

However, if it's Glasgow replacing McGovern at center, and Elijah Wilkinson replacing Leary at RG, that would represent an upgrade. But, the buzz has Glasgow playing RG so we're left with...

Verdict: Downgrade (only because Glasgow/Morris is a step down from McGovern/Leary

Jeff Driskel replaces Brandon Allen at backup quarterback

Drew Lock has been anointed by the team as the unquestioned starter heading into 2020. The Broncos never planned for Joe Flacco to serve as Lock's backup and he's since been cut, but Brandon Allen was considered. 

The Broncos went with the more experienced Driskel, letting Allen hit the bricks. Driskel isn't the most exciting option but from a veteran fail-safe perspective, the Broncos did modestly improve the backup spot. 

Verdict: Upgrade

Melvin Gordon replaces Devontae Booker at RB

I don't love the contract Gordon got from Denver (two years, $16M) but there's absolutely no question that the Broncos upgraded over the outgoing Booker and improved the running back depth chart by leaps and bounds.

Verdict: Upgrade

Those are the Broncos' only acquisitions that correspond with an outgoing veteran. Now, let's take a quick look at departed players the Broncos haven't replaced with an outside signing. 

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Will Parks, S 

Parks accepted a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Projected Replacement: Trey Marshall or drafted rookie | Verdict: Downgrade

Derek Wolfe, DE

Wolfe remains unsigned but for now, we'll consider him departed. 

Projected Replacement: Dre'Mont Jones | Verdict: Downgrade (Apples for apples)

Casey Kreiter, LS

Kreiter is coming off a Pro Bowl nod and remains unsigned. 

Projected Replacement: Jacob Bobenmoyer | Verdict: Downgrade (experience matters, even at longsnapper)

Ronald Leary, RG

Leary's team option was declined, rendering him a free agent. 

Projected Replacement: Depends on where Glasgow plays | Verdict: Downgrade

Joe Flacco, QB

Flacco was cut, rendering him a free agent. 

Projected Replacement: Drew Lock | Verdict: Upgrade

Homegrown Re-Signings

The Broncos decided to keep quite a few of their homegrown free agents. The key ones being S Justin Simmons (franchise tag), OL Elijah Wilkinson (RFA tag), DT Mike Purcell (RFA tag), CB De'Vante Bausby (one-year deal), and OLB Jeremiah Attaochu (one-year deal). 

There were also a handful of ERFAs tendered, which includes the previously mentioned Marshall, as well as Tim Patrick and Pro Bowl alternate punt returner Diontae Spencer. 

Nick Vannett, TE

Vannett was an outside signing that is yet to have a corresponding departure. The rumor is that Jeff Heuerman will end up on the cutting room floor with Vannett in the fold, but until that happens, we have to evaluate the roster based on both being on it. 

Although I questioned the need to add Vannett, it's not rational to say he downgrades the roster. As a complete TE, he provides a modest upgrade to the depth chart behind Noah Fant and Heuerman. 

Roster Holes Remaining

  • Defensive end 
  • Cornerback (not created by a departure but still needs bolstering)
  • Third Safety
  • Offensive line

Broncos Getting Back 3 Key Injured Players

The Broncos played most of, and in some cases, all of 2019 without players like OLB Bradley Chubb, RT Ja'Wuan James and CB Bryce Callahan. 

Getting them back for 2020 is like signing three Pro Bowl-caliber free agents. 

The Final Tally

What this analysis has revealed to me is that indeed, the Broncos still have work to do on this roster. The Broncos could ease a lot of minds by re-signing Wolfe and adding one more outside cornerback like Prince Amukamara but there might only be enough cap room for one of those moves. 

However, before any fan panics, keep in mind that the offseason has two separate roster-building components and NFL free agency is only one of them. The oddsmakers might have docked the Broncos by half a win based on what the team did in free agency but with the NFL Draft coming in April, that could change again. 

My bet is that by the time it's all said and done, Vegas will eventually return the Broncos to an over/under win total of 8. That is, unless Elway completely botches this draft — but I don't see that happening. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen and @MileHighHuddle.

THANKS FOR READING MILE HIGH HUDDLE
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Comments (16)
No. 1-7
BleedOrange
BleedOrange

Plenty of cap space left and draft picks to fill the holes. Solid starters and contributors can be found at positions of need through 4 rounds of the draft, maybe even 5. Broncos will finish with no less than 9 wins in 2020.

Brew77
Brew77

I think most don’t care what the Vegas oddsmakers think while the Broncos haven’t signed the flashy FA’s I think they got some quality guys. Most of the time it’s the under the radar signees that pan out over the top flashy guys. I’m a realist and I look at this team and it has improved but Drew Lock is still essentially a rookie and will still go through some growing pains this season. I look at this season and think the Broncos could win 8 to 10 games realistically this division is still very tough. And whether people want to admit it or not the Vegas Raiders have made a lot of improvements and will be just as tough as the Chiefs this next year. But the days of the Broncos being a bottom feeder team is over I look at the Broncos and see a middle of the pack team who are going to surprise the know it alls with how they play.

Gandalf the orange
Gandalf the orange

Players who should be upgrades to what they did last year: Bradley Chub, Alexander Johnson, Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant.

RMS
RMS

Glasgow is an upgrade no matter where he plays, in McGovern's spot or in Leary's. Leary was modestly good, when he was healthy. Nothing more. I like Jones because his upside is as strong as Wolfie's best games. Getting Wolfie back would be good, but whether we can afford him now remains to be seen. Casey will be his or Shelby Harris' match should both be gone. Harris especially; good but limited player. Can't wait to see what the draft brings us, especially if Elway can package 2-3 players and move up a few spots in Round 1.

Ringneck1
Ringneck1

Vegas shouldn't look at Den much different from last year, nor should fans for that matter. There is still much for Lock to prove and that's ok. Regardless of who they sign now, the future of this team will be written by how many draft picks they hit on and how last year's picks progress.

DispensaryKing
DispensaryKing

How the F is getting rid of Leary a downgrade?? He was by far our worst lineman last season. You could put me at RG and I'd play more games with less sacks and penalties... and I'm 5'7 140 lbs. GTFO, Leary was trash. I bet you're probably a Daesean Hamilton fan too... ugh.

dabomb
dabomb

not to mention the UDFA"s they have hit on quite a few. I'm hoping for Killins as our returner next year.


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