Denver Broncos: Gauging the Flight Risk of the Broncos Free Agents

Clint DalyContributor IIFebruary 27, 2012

Denver Broncos: Gauging the Flight Risk of the Broncos Free Agents

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    The Denver Broncos have quite the list of free agents in 2012.

    There are currently 17 unrestricted free agents on the roster.

    In addition, there are two restricted free agents on the roster as well.

    So who is going to be re-signed?

    Who is going to be gone when training camp opens?

    Here's a look at who will be a priority for the Broncos to keep.

    And who won't.

Restricted Free Agents

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    The two Broncos who are currently restricted free agents are wide receiver Matt Willis and defensive tackle Ryan McBean. If either of them is offered a contract by another team, the Broncos would be able to match the offer in order to keep them.

    McBean recorded just 33 tackles on a defense that was ranked 24th in points allowed.

    Willis has shown some ability catching the football, but he struggles to get separation from defenders and he brings nothing on special teams. This season he caught only 18 passes.

    It is doubtful that any other teams will be seeking the talents that these two offer. Expect them each to re-sign with the Broncos for low-priced deals.

Flight Risk: HIGH

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    It isn't just the comments he made about Tim Tebow, the fans, the coaching staff and the franchise...Brady Quinn was most likely already a goner.

    Let's face it, he has been in the league for five years and yet couldn't beat out the struggling Kyle Orton or the inexperienced Tebow.

    Quinn hasn't taken a snap in two years.

    In addition to Quinn, the Broncos have three other players that will most likely be elsewhere next year.

    Defensive end Jason Hunter will most likely be gone due to the Broncos wanting to solidify this position.

    Tight ends Daniel Fells and Dante Rosario will be hard pressed to get a new deal as the Broncos already have Julius Thomas and Virgil Green. Cornelius Ingram is also on the practice squad.

Flight Risk: Doesn't Look Good

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    The issue with bringing back safety Brian Dawkins is less about production and more about health.

    Dawkins battled an ongoing neck injury last season, missing time in multiple games this past season.

    That isn't good for a position that requires hitting. Plus the Broncos drafted not one but two safeties last year.

    It will be surprising if Dawkins is re-signed by Denver.

    Linebacker Joe Mays, who is solid but unspectacular, will be gone unless he settles for a bargain.

Flight Risk 50/50

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    Marcus Thomas is a solid run defender, but he rarely gets to the quarterback. In 2012, Thomas recorded 43 tackles and no sacks. In his five-year career, he has 146 tackles and just one sack.

    It isn't that he will be a high priority for the Broncos to re-sign, it's just that he won't be a priority for anyone else to sign either.

    Linebacker Mario Haggan is 32 years old and will have a chance to remain in Denver if he is okay with being a backup to defensive rookie of the year Von Miller.

    Defensive end Derrick Harvey is just 25 years old and the Broncos like his quickness. Harvey is just four years removed from being a first-round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Broncos may look at Harvey to bring some depth to the position.

    Offensive lineman Russ Hochstein doesn't log much time with the offense, but he has been willing to play special teams, which gives him some value.

    Cornerback Jonathan Willhite is another player that the Broncos may keep just because he would give them some depth. Willhite may never be a starter, but he can play special teams and play in a pinch like he did last year in the Miami game when he logged 11 tackles.

Flight Risk: Low

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    I'm a big Eddie Royal fan, but it has been disappointing to see how much the wide receiver has regressed over the past two or three years.

    He is rarely open and rarely thrown to, catching just 19 balls and a single touchdown in 2012.

    However, Royal may have some value as a special team returner, where he has proven to be very dangerous. If the Broncos can add a top wide receiver it will help Royal gain some production back.

    Good in the community and in the locker room, Royal should be re-signed to a modest contract.

    The Broncos seem to like defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley. Another tackle who is solid against the run but has no chance of getting to the quarterback in the passing game. He will at least provide depth.

    Linebacker Wesley Woodyard could eventually be a starter but he is backing up D.J. Williams. Expect the Broncos to re-sign Woodyard as the next in line to Williams who will be 30 this summer.

    Fullback Spencer Larsen is solid and willing to play special teams as well. The Broncos will most likely keep Larsen.

Flight Risk: NONE

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    Kicker Matt Prater is the lone sure thing among all of the Denver free agents.

    Just 27-years-old, he has been clutch making over 78 percent of his kicks including 16 makes of 50-plus yards.

    His two kicks in the Chicago game, a 59-yard field goal to tie it and a 51-yarder to win it were simply amazing.

    There is no way the Broncos are going to let him walk.

    Expect Prater to sign a top contract among kickers.