Denver Broncos: Early Doucet Is Only Remaining Replacement for Eddie Royal

Dan Allen@@DanVAllenCorrespondent IIMarch 18, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 02:  Early Doucet #85 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the ball as Corey Webster #23 of the New York Giants tries to make the tackle at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 2, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Free-agent receiver Eddie Royal has signed with the San Diego Chargers. With the departure of Royal, the Denver Broncos need to find a replacement for Royal now while there are still receivers on the market.

Most of the big-name receivers are gone. Mario Manningham is the most recent to sign, going to the San Francisco 49ers late Saturday night.

This leaves few quality receivers on the market. Most of the receivers remaining on the market are either injury-prone, unproven youngsters or aging veterans.

Early Doucet could capably fill the slot receiver role for Denver. Only 26, Doucet could sign a multi-year contract with Denver that wouldn't risk age as a factor in later seasons. With the market having been picked apart by teams looking for receivers, Doucet likely has little leverage for a high value contract.

Doucet broke out with the Arizona Cardinals in his fourth season in the NFL playing opposite star receiver Larry Fitzgerald. With 54 receptions for 689 yards and five touchdowns in only six starts, Doucet made the most of his playing time even with a revolving door under center (John Skelton, Kevin Kolb and Richard Bartel all saw time at quarterback).

The only alternatives to signing Doucet would be to draft a receiver with the intent of starting in the slot or instead taking a risk on a veteran receiver like Braylon Edwards or Jerricho Cotchery. Both played sparingly in 2011 with little to show for the season.

Taking a pass on Doucet could be a major mistake for Denver. The Broncos have only two starters in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker on the roster and desperately need to add a receiver if Tim Tebow is to succeed as a passer in 2012.

If Denver is looking for a receiver to take over the slot receiver role through free agency, the only plausible option left to them is Early Doucet.

UPDATE: With the pending addition of quarterback Peyton Manning, Denver will be looking for an additional receiver possibly even more adamantly than before with Tim Tebow under center.