With the NFL's free-agent signing period scheduled to open on Tuesday, the Denver Broncos are ready to go out and find the players they need to avoid a postseason disappointment in 2013 and bring home a Super Bowl victory.
Running back, middle linebacker and defensive tackle appear to be the biggest needs heading into free agency, but one of the best pass-rushing defensive ends in recent NFL history became available when the Indianapolis Colts decided to part ways with Dwight Freeney earlier this month.
According to Mike Klis of The Denver Post, the team will consider Freeney if they are unable to restructure the current contract of Elvis Dumervil.
The Broncos obviously feel that Dumervil is being overpaid, as he is scheduled to rake in $12 million this coming season. However, Dumervil is reportedly not open to a cut in pay.
This is going to make things very interesting, but Denver does not need to approach it as a situation where it can only have one or the other. Instead, the team should sign Freeney, regardless.
If Dumervil refuses to take a pay cut and is released by Denver, then you have about as good a replacement as you'll find for a portion of the cost. This would allow the team to be more aggressive in other areas of free agency.
Conversely, if Dumervil does accept lesser pay, he and Freeney could play on the same defensive line as bookend pass-rushers.
This would allow Derek Wolfe to move to the inside and play tackle, and the team would be able to let one of their pending free agents at that position (Justin Bannan, Kevin Vickerson) walk.
A line that consisted of Freeney, Wolfe and Dumervil would be very imposing for opponents. That doesn't even include the best player on defense, Von Miller, who may become even more of a force in this scenario. Teams would be left with the decision of who to block and how to block them and it would make it very tough to double-team anyone.
No one knows what Freeney is capable of more than his former Colts teammate Peyton Manning, who he won a Super Bowl with. If Denver gets into a bidding war with another team over Freeney's services, Manning would be a great bargaining chip.
Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio also knows what Freeney can do, as he coached against him for several years in Jacksonville. Del Rio would be able to get the most out of the 33-year-old veteran.
Freeney had a down year in 2012, collecting just five sacks,but over the course of his 11-year career, he has averaged 9.7 sacks per season. In the right scheme, he would still be very effective, and he still possesses perhaps the best spin move in NFL history.
On March 16, Dumervil's salary for the 2013 season would become guaranteed. A decision will need to be made by then.