Denver Broncos 2012 Evolution: Peyton Manning in and Tim Tebow out

Ben FletcherContributor IIIApril 4, 2012

DENVER, CO - MARCH 20:  A fan displays a sign referencing Denver Broncos quarterbacks Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning as the Colorado Avalanche host the Calgary Flames at Pepsi Center on March 20, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The 2011-2012 NFL regular season ended with Tim Tebow leading the headlines and guiding the Denver Broncos into the playoffs. As if he didn't already seal his position at starting quarterback by the end of the season, he seemed to ultimately solidify it with a home playoff win against the menacing Pittsburgh Steelers.

Oh how things can change.

When the Indianapolis Colts released Peyton Manning on March 7th, half of the teams in the NFL suddenly became unsure about their own starting quarterback. Teams, such as the Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks, who were in desperate need for a quarterback, were immediately on board to signing the 11-time Pro Bowler.

Teams who were once confident in who they had under center began to waver when the thought of signing Peyton Manning came onto their radar. The starting job of Alex Smith, who led his team to the NFC Championship game less than three months earlier, was in jeopardy. Matt Hasselback's starting role in Tennessee was immediately threatened, and Tim Tebow's solidified spot on the roster was once again in question.

Peyton Manning's signing was the first of many, as players flocked to Denver in hope to play alongside him. Shortly after Manning signed with the Denver Broncos, the true evolution of the team began. CB Tracy Porter, WR Andre Caldwell, S Mike Adams, TE Jacob Tamme, TE Joel Dreesen and QB Caleb Hanie all signed with Denver. Linebackers Wesley Woodyard and Joe Mays also resigned with the Broncos.

However, the evolution hit a speed bump before Manning ever signed with the Broncos when they lost several key players. DT Brodrick Bunkley signed with New Orleans and Eddie Royal signed with San Diego. Denver also lost tight ends Daniel Fells and Dante Rosario, FB Spencer Larsen and QB Brady Quinn.

Denver will need to focus on filling several holes to complete the evolution and place the building blocks for a Super Bowl run. They already signed two tight ends, who are both better players than Fells and Rosario.

However, the Broncos desperately need to acquire a couple of defensive tackles, possibly both in the 2012 NFL Draft. They also need to focus on drafting a quarterback, wide receiver and running back to complete the process. Denver could also use draft picks on a cornerback, safety and linebacker to strengthen their defense.