NFL Rumors: Denver Broncos in Desperate Need of a Safety?

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IMarch 9, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 27:   Brian Dawkins #20 of the Denver Broncos warms up before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on November 27, 2011 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

According to the Denver PostPeyton Manning is visiting the Denver Broncos, which means everyone in the Mile High City is fixated on that. However, we can't forget about the gaping hole that John Fox's club may have at safety if veteran leader Brian Dawkins decides to retire this offseason. 

Even if he does play for another season, he's coming off a serious pinched nerve in his neck. 

Right now, the Broncos have three youthful safeties on the roster in Rahim Moore, Quinton Carter and Rafael Bush. 

Moore started in five games last season but was relatively inconsistent playing next to Dawkins. As a second-round pick that showed flashes in 2011, he's penciled-in as the starter for this upcoming September. 

Outside of Manning, acquiring a playcalling safety is of the utmost importance to the Broncos, who prepare for the 2012 season as the reigning AFC West champions. 

Mike Klis of the Denver Post recently ran a column discussing the team's intentions to find a safety: 

With the free-agent market opening Tuesday, the Broncos must address what at season's end was arguably their weakest position. Strong safety Brian Dawkins earned his ninth Pro Bowl appearance, but he suffered a severe pinched nerve in his neck and missed several critical games down the stretch, including the Broncos' two playoff games. At 38, Dawkins is contemplating retirement.

Given Moore's need to improve as a tackler, the Broncos want a safety who not only is smart enough to call out coverages as the offense comes to the line of scrimmage, but a safety who can hit.

Brandon Meriweather, who was considered one of the NFL's top safeties when he made the Pro Bowl in 2009 and 2010, but fell off precipitously in 2011, could be a fit.

Three of the NFL's better safeties—San Francisco's Dashon Goldson, Tennessee's Michael Griffin and Oakland's Tyvon Branch—were recently hit with the franchised tag by their respective clubs. 

Klis points out that Washington's LaRon Landry is on the market. However, he is coming off a devastating Achilles tendon injury and oddly opted not to have surgery. 

If Denver does decide to stay away from the likes of Landry, they could always look in the draft for another safety. Unfortunately, the class of safeties is thin this year, with Mark Barron likely the only first-rounder. 

It will be interesting to see how the Broncos fill this void, or if they simply move forward with the safeties currently on their roster.