This past March, Denver signed what appeared to be a great deal with veteran cornerback Drayton Florence.
According to a tweet by ESPN's Adam Schefter, the deal was for $4.5 million, $5.5 million with incentives.
This move was highly publicized, and was largely overshadowed by the signing of another veteran cornerback, Tracy Porter. Porter was a Super Bowl hero for the New Orleans Saints in 2009 and is much more a household name than Florence. Nonetheless, Florence was a great signing that was heralded by Denver fans and media alike.
Yesterday, however, Denver released the nine-year veteran, much to everyone's surprise and dismay.
Florence, who has played for the San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and most recently, the Buffalo Bills, looked great last season. He accumulated 50 tackles and three picks, and returned one for a touchdown.
These aren't Pro Bowl figures, yet over the last three seasons in Buffalo, Florence was a model of consistency, accumulating around 60 tackles and three picks each year. These are decent numbers for a starting cornerback, yet Denver had Florence as the backup. Why Denver would let go of such a productive and experienced backup is unquestionably strange.
Denver kept five cornerbacks on their final roster. They are veterans and starters Tracy Porter and Champ Bailey, rookie Omar Bolden, Chris Harris, and Tony Carter.
Bailey and Porter are obvious keeps, and Bolden, who is a rookie out of Arizona State, is a very talented player who will be an asset for years to come. (He's also a very skilled punt and kick returner, skills he highlighted in the last game versus Arizona with a whopping 103-yard-return.)
Was Cutting Drayton Florence a Mistake?
Harris and Carter are the more questionable keeps. Harris had a great rookie season with Denver last year, when he accumulated 72 tackles and an interception. These are great numbers, considering that he only started in four games, so Harris is a reasonable keep.
Carter, on the other hand, is an unnecessary addition to the roster. He is entering his fourth year in the league and has done virtually nothing since going undrafted out of Florida State. The Broncos actually had him in 2009, his rookie year, and he had three tackles in two games. He then went to New England, and was back with Denver last year. To add pain to the poison, he has also dealt with injury.
I don't mean to bash Carter, as he is a gifted athlete with potential, yet Drayton Florence would have been a much smarter keep for Denver. He could have helped out fellow veterans Porter and Bailey, and he also could have been a mentor to Bolden and Harris.
Denver kept Keith Brooking at linebacker and Jim Leonhard at safety, so it's clear that they value experienced veterans. They obviously felt Porter and Bailey provided enough veteran wisdom at the cornerback position, and that Florence just wasn't necessary. Unfortunately for them, they let go of a solid backup in a position where they have struggled.