Free Agents the Denver Broncos Should Avoid at All Costs

Jennifer EakinsContributor IJanuary 29, 2013

Free Agents the Denver Broncos Should Avoid at All Costs

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    The majority of, if not all, Denver Bronco fans were left with a bitter taste after Denver's heartbreaking loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round of the 2012 playoffs.

    What now? It is time to look forward, rebuild and focus on procuring the best 2013 Bronco roster possible through both the draft and free agency.

    While there are some intriguing names on the docket for free agency this offseason, there are also others who are not a good fit for this Bronco team for one reason or another.

    Here's a look at some of the free agents available in 2013 that Denver should run—not walk—away from this offseason.

Peyton Hillis, RB

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    Denver fans are still sour about everything Josh McDaniels touched during his tenure as head coach of the Broncos.

    Whether decisions made during the McDaniels "era" eventually panned out for the Broncos or not, is irrelevant in many Denver fans' eyes. One move that was highly scrutinized was the sending of Peyton Hillis to the Cleveland Browns for quarterback Brady Quinn.

    The season following that trade, Hillis rushed for 1,177 yards with 11 touchdowns for the Browns and earned himself the cover of Madden NFL .

    After that 2010 season, Hillis' numbers have steadily declined, and he has failed to perform anywhere near the level of his first season with the Browns.

    Based on the list of guys currently at the running back position in Denver, it doesn't make too much sense to bring in another player who has been underperforming.  

    Sorry to disappoint the Hillis fans in Denver, but there is probably no reunion in store for the running back and the Denver Broncos.

Brian Hartline, WR

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    Brian Hartline has emerged as the top guy in Miami and may get some looks this offseason on the free-agent market. Due to very little competition on the Dolphins roster, Hartline was by default the number-one guy. But he's a number-two talent, and his 2013 contract could reflect that.

    In 2012, Hartline had 1,084 yards but only one touchdown.

    According to The Miami Herald, he is looking to earn somewhere in the $5 million-$6 million range next season, and it is still undecided whether the Dolphins will pay that much to retain him.

    If the Broncos decide to procure a new wideout this offseason, it may be best to acquire one through the draft or spend their money on a more proven receiver. 

Jake Long, LT

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    Keeping offensive tackle Ryan Clady in a Bronco uniform is arguably the top priority for Denver this offseason.

    Once Peyton Manning passes his physical in March, Denver will need to protect the $40 million owed to Manning over the next two years. Retaining Clady will most likely require a franchise tag, potentially costing the Broncos just shy of $10 million.

    Jake Long is believed to be seeking around $10 million a year, a pretty large chunk of change for a guy whose performance and health has declined.

    This offseason, the Broncos best path at tackle is to give Clady the cash and pass on Long.

LaRon Landry, S

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    A promising talent out of LSU when drafted by the Redskins in 2007, Landry hasn't quite fulfilled his potential in the NFL.

    Until this past season.

    Landry is a classic case of a guy who plays over his head in a contract year.

    Wanting to prove himself after his original rookie contract expired with Washington; Landry signed a one-year deal with the New York Jets and was selected to his first Pro Bowl in 2012.

    While safety is a need for the Broncos, Landry doesn't strike me as a great fit with the franchise. His performance on the field only seems to be driven by what benefits himself and not the team as a whole.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB

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    From 2009- 2011 with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Rashard Mendenhall rushed for 3,309 yards, reaching the end zone 29 times.

    Not too shabby for the young running back.

    However, his 2012 season was plagued with injuries and off-field issues, making him a less attractive free agent in this year's class. 

    There are teams that could possibly want to take the chance that the 25-year-old Mendenhall could return to prior form with a fresh start on a new squad. They would be smart to sign him to an incentive-laden one-year deal that would give him the opportunity to repair his image and remain healthy for a full 16-game season.

    The Broncos do not need a player like Mendenhall to complicate the current backfield. They would be wiser to go after a guy like Steven Jackson or Reggie Bush, guys who have proven themselves on the field as well as off.

Brian Urlacher, LB

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    It may be the end of the road with the Chicago Bears for Brian Urlacher.

    With Lovie Smith no longer in charge and new head coach Marc Trestman not making a commitment either way on the veteran linebacker, his time in a Bear uniform could be up.

    In 2012, Urlacher was hindered by injury for four games, and his performance was nowhere near the level that we were used to seeing from the eight-time Pro Bowler.

    While middle linebacker is an area that needs to be addressed this offseason by the Broncos, signing the 34-year-old veteran is not a sound investment.

    Even though Urlacher may still have something left in the tank, his price tag and decline in production make him less appealing than procuring a younger, faster guy to clog up the middle next season.

Glenn Dorsey, DT

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    Glenn Dorsey has not quite lived up to the hype since he was anointed the next Warren Sapp coming out of LSU.

    To be fair, in his second year with Kansas City, Dorsey was moved to defensive end when the Chiefs switched to a 3-4 defense. Due to a recurring calf injury and his battle with a bad knee, Dorsey has yet to make an impact, and it's questionable whether he will do so even if he finds himself back at defensive tackle in a 4-3 system.

    Dorsey has reached the end of his rookie contract and is available for free agency this offseason. There are teams out there that may want to take a chance on Dorsey, believing he can overcome injury and thrive in a different system.

    Denver shouldn't be one of them.

    While the Broncos need to secure some depth at defensive tackle due to their own guys (Kevin Vickerson and Justin Bannan) testing the free-agent market, Dorsey just isn't worth the gamble.

Josh Cribbs, WR

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    Denver will probably be looking to add some depth at the wide receiver position during the offseason.

    Even though Josh Cribbs has had some success with the Browns as a kick returner, he does not offer much on offense. Plus, he is on the wrong side of 30 which is less appealing for a free-agent receiver.

    In picking up Trindon Holliday off waivers earlier in 2012, the Broncos have found their return man. He just needs to work this offseason on hanging on to the football.

    While Cribbs may be an enticing prospect due to his special teams skills, Denver should pass on him to acquire a guy who will contribute as a wideout in Peyton Manning's offense.

     

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