Denver Broncos Free-Agency Tracker: Updated Signings, Rumors and Grades
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For a team like the Denver Broncos, free agency is a golden opportunity to add that missing ingredient. Starting at 4 p.m. ET on March 12, the Broncos will have the opportunity to add to their Super Bowl-caliber team by signing these free agents.
While the draft is also a good place to add talent, free agency is a good place to shop when the teams is looking to win now. If the Broncos are going to maintain their spot atop the AFC, they will need to make sure they continue to add to their roster with known commodities.
The Broncos will also probably be challenged more by the AFC West in 2013. The Chiefs should be better, and the Chargers and Raiders could also improve enough to make things more difficult for the Broncos. Peyton Manning isn’t getting any younger, so putting even more weapons around him and correcting the cracks in the defense will be good place to start.
The Broncos need a defensive tackle or two, a middle linebacker and depth in the secondary. The Broncos are also at an impasse with Elvis Dumervil, and the defensive end has asked for his release on Tuesday, according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post. If Dumervil is released, the team will be in the market for a pass-rushing defensive end.
Offensively, the Broncos only need a running back to pair with Ronnie Hillman, but they could also add depth or find replacements at some positions. Right guard Chris Kuper has had trouble playing healthy, and the injuries have also taken a toll on his play. The Broncos might also want to give Manning a more dynamic slot receiver than Brandon Stokley.
It will be interesting to see how the Broncos move forward in their first full offseason with Manning. Consider this slideshow to be your complete guide to all of the latest rumors about the Broncos, signings, re-signings and departures this offseason.
Latest Rumors and Signings
Rashard Mendenhall would pair well with Ronnie Hillman.
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March 19: The Broncos have offers Elvis Dumervil a contract which he has yet to accept according to the Denver Post.
March 17: Mike Garafolo of the USA Today reports that Elvis Dumervil has hired CAA for represent him, his former agent waived the standard five-day waiting period to hire a new agent and the Broncos have left the door open for his return.
March 16: Elvis Dumervil has fired his agent Marty Magid according to Mike Garafolo or the USA Today.
March 15: Dumervil's revised contract was not filed in time according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post. The team released him to avoid guaranteeing him $12 million in 2013.
March 15: Elvis Dumervil agreed to a pay cut according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. He reduced his base salary from $12 million to $8 million according to Michelle Beisner of NFL Network.
March 14: Linebacker Connor Barwin, defensive tackle Richard Seymour and defensive end Dwight Freeney are on the Broncos' radar according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.
March 14: Terrance Knighton received a $500,000 bonus according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.
March 13: Welker's will receive a $4 million bonus and $2 million in base salary in the first year of his deal and $3 million bonus and $3 million salary in the second year of his deal according to Michelle Beisner of NFL Network. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports Welker will get $150,000 in incentives each year he catches 90 passes.
March 13: Mike Klis of the Denver Post reports that Terrance Knighton's contract is worth $4.5 million over two years and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's one-year deal is worth $5 million. Klis also has a slightly different number than previously reported on Stewart Bradley's one-year contract—$1.2 million.
March 13: Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Broncos have reached an agreement on a one-year contract with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
March 13: Linebacker Stewart Bradley's deal is for one year and is worth $1.1 million with a $200,000 signing bonus according to Mike Garafolo of the USA Today.
March 13: The Broncos signed defensive tackle Terrance Knighton to a two-year deal according to John Elway.
March 13: Wes Welker reached a two-year agreement with the Broncos. John Elway confirmed the deal in a tweet moments after it was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter.
March 13: Denver is one of four possible destinations for cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha according to ProFootballTalk.
March 13: The Broncos have made a multi-year offer to Wes Welker according to Albert Breer of NFL.com.
March 13: John Elway announced the signing of linebacker Stewart Bradley to a one-year contract.
March 13: A deal between the Broncos and Wes Welker is "almost done" according to Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports.
March 13: A deal between the Broncos and Wes Welker is"very likely" according to Greg Bedard of Boston.com.
March 13: The Broncos are in serious talks with Wes Welker and are trying to hammer out an agreement according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. A decision is expected today according to the report.
March 13: Bill Simmons of ESPN/Grantland posted on Facebook that he's hearing that the Wes Welker sweepstakes is down the Broncos and Patriots.
March 12: ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Broncos are close to an agreement with defensive tackle Terrance Knighton.
March 12: Pending the outcome of the stalemate between the Broncos and Elvis Dumervil, the Broncos could take a run at defensive end Dwight Freeney or linebacker Shaun Phillips according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
March 12: The Broncos are likely to sign running back Rashard Mendenhall according to ProFootballTalk.
March 12: Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson has re-signed with the Broncos for two years.
March 12: The Broncos have put out feelers to defensive tackle Richard Seymour according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.
March 12: Defensive tackle Terrance Kighton is visiting the Broncos according to Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com. Knighton played for defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio when he was head coach in Jacksonville.
March 12: Linebacker Stewart Bradley is on his way to Denver for a visit according to Mike Garafolo of the USA Today.
March 12: The Broncos have scheduled a visit with cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.
March 12: Running back Rashard Mendenhall has scheduled a visit with the Broncos according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
March 11: The Broncos have re-signed safety David Bruton, according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post.
March 11: The Broncos have also expressed interest in cornerback Greg Toler and are continuing discussions with defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson on a new contract, according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post. Both players would fill needs and provide valuable depth on defense.
March 10: According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, the Broncos are interested in running back Rashard Mendenhall. He’s young and would be a great fit when paired with Ronnie Hillman.
March 10: Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com reported that the Broncos have expressed interest in Darrelle Revis. ESPN’s Ed Werder and Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post both refuted the report. Of course, the Denver Post also reported that the Broncos would not be in the bidding for Manning last March.
March 06: Vic Lombardi of CBS Denver reports that the Broncos will explore a deal with Dwight Freeney if they can’t work things out with Dumervil.
David Bruton re-signed with the Broncos.
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March 13: CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie signed for one year, $5 million.
March 13: DT Terrance Knighton signed for two years, $4.5 million with a bonus of $500,000.
March 13: LB Stewart Bradley signed for one year, $1.1 million (or $1.2 million) with a $200,000 signing bonus.
March 13: WR Wes Welker signed for two years, $12 million. Year 1: $2 million base and $4 million bonus. Year 2: $3 million base and $3 million bonus. Incentives: $150,000 for each year he catches 90 passes.
March 13: LB Stewart Bradley signed for one year. Terms have not yet been disclosed.
March 12: DT Kevin Vickerson re-signed for two years. Terms have not yet been disclosed.
March 12: OG Louis Vasquez signed for three years, $23.5 million with $13 million guaranteed.
March 11: S David Bruton re-signed for three years, $4.5 million.
There is no chance Tracy Porter returns to the Broncos in 2013.
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Broncos Re-Sign Safety David Bruton
David Bruton is a great player on special teams.
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The Broncos re-signed safety David Bruton prior to the start of free agency by giving him a three-year, $4.5 million contract, according to Klis of the Denver Post. Bruton is the Broncos’ special teams ace, so locking him down for just $1.5 million per season is a good deal.
Bruton only played safety in a pinch in 2012, and not every team would pay a player who can only play special teams $1.5 million per year, but the Broncos aren’t one of those teams. Bruton is especially good at covering punts, which helps the Broncos win the field-position battle. It’s a no-frills signing, but it’s an important one if the Broncos want to remain one of the league’s best on special teams.
Broncos Sign Right Guard Louis Vasquez
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The Denver Broncos decided to find a permanent fix at right guard by signing Louis Vasquez away from their division rival. Vasquez's contract is reportedly for three years and is worth $23.5 million with $13 million fully guaranteed.
Vasquez's contract is worth over $8 million per season, which is elite money for an offensive guard. While Chris Kuper has been a good player in the past, he couldn't stay on the field in 2012 and didn't play well when he was healthy. Manny Ramirez started in place of Kuper in 2012, but was clearly the weak link on the offensive line.
Vasquez was arguably the best offensive guard available and should solidify the offensive line in front of Manning for the next couple years. Vasquez has also been a model of healthy and rarely penalized over his career, which is exactly what you want in your offensive linemen. Vasquez is also entering his prime—he is just 25-years old.
Broncos Sign Wide Receiver Wes Welker
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Wes Welker is a near-perfect fit with the Broncos. He'll get along great with Peyton Manning and give the Broncos a much-needed updated at slot receiver.
Not only is Welker have the right personality and play the right position, but he didn't break the bank. The Broncos clearly see the next two years as their window to win a super bowl, and adding Welker will get them one step closer.
Here's the complete break down of how Welker fits with the Broncos. It's really hard not to like the deal from Denver's point of view, but you can see why some fans in New England might be a little upset.
Broncos Sign Linebacker Stewart Bradley
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Linebacker Stewart Bradley hasn't been a full-time player since 2010 when he started 12 games for the Philadelphia[hia Eagles. Over the past two years Bradley has played some inside and outside linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals, but only sparingly.
Bradley was basically a forgotten man in Arizona. The Broncos are likely drawing from how much they liked Bradley in the past and determined he can come in and compete for a job at middle linebacker. It's never a bad idea to bring in players you feel play the game the right way for quality depth.
Since Bradley hasn't really played much over the past two years and three years ago when he did start he didn't exactly make a name for himself, it's really hard to grade a move like this. If the Broncos are counting on Bradley to start at middle linebacker this move is a curious one.
Broncos Sign Defensive Tackle Terrance Knighton
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The Broncos brought in defensive tackle Terrance Knighton to pair with Kevin Vickerson. The 6'3" 333-pound defensive tackle is nicknamed "pot roast" which is probably one of the better nicknames for a big guy ever.
The best thing about Knighton is not that he knows defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio's schemes from their time together in Jacksonville, but that he's also just 26-year-old. Knighton was actually one of the better performers in Jacksonville over the past few years on a team without many performers at all.
Knighton is actually a pretty good athlete for his size and has proven he's not just a tub of goo that's thrown out there to slow down the run. Knighton is a good run defender and has been solid in that area since coming into the league. Although the Broncos aren't expecting much from their defensive tackles in the form of a pass rush, Knighton has really developed that area of his game.
The Broncos could have easily re-signed Justin Bannan, but Knighton is younger and is still getting better. Bannan had a good year, but there's no guarantee he can replicate it at age 34. Teams have to be careful about spending for past performance instead of future performance, and the Broncos are certainly looking ahead by signing Knighton.
Broncos Sign Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
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Lost in the dumpster fire that was the Philadelphia Eagles' 2012 season was actually a solid year by cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie if you don't count his terrible run defense against him.
The Broncos are hoping that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie turns out a lot better than the signing of Tracy Porter last season. Both Rodgers-Cromartie and Porter will be 27-years-old for the entirety of the 2013 season and were given a one-year deals to prove themselves. The comparisons don't stop there.
Rodgers-Cromartie and Porter both had up-and-down seasons the year before signing with the Broncos, but there are some subtle differences. When parsing through Rodgers-Cromartie's worst games you start to notice that most of them came against elite wide receivers. Dez Bryant victimized Rodgers-Cromartie twice and A.J. Green did it once in 2012. Porter's poor coverage performances prior to signing with the Broncos came against teams like the Rams and Buccaneers (before they signed Vincent Jackson).
If the Broncos don't ask Rodgers-Cromartie to support the run very often and can get him to play with a little more discipline to avoid penalties, they could have found themselves a very nice cornerback. According to ProFootballFocus, the highest completion percentage Rodgers-Cromartie has allowed in a season is 62.2 percent. Rodgers-Cromartie has only allowed over a 60 percent completion rate twice in his career and not since 2010.
Rodgers-Cromartie might be a flawed player, but you have to like his physical tools. It appears $5 million is also the going rate for cornerbacks in free agency, so it's tough to argue with the contract.