Denver Broncos: Buying or Selling Latest Buzz on the Free-Agency Rumor Mill
With free agency set to begin on Tuesday, there are several rumors swirling around the NFL.
The Denver Broncos are not immune to such buzz. In fact, the Broncos may be one of the more talked about teams as they look to get back to the Super Bowl.
In the past, we’ve seen general manager John Elway use free agency to add starters. He then uses the draft to build depth and add potential future starters.
At the scouting combine this year, Elway gave us some insight into his philosophy.
“With free agency, we’re always trying to get ourselves in a position where when we go into the draft—we don’t have a glaring weakness where we are reaching for somebody in the draft. So I think it’s important for free agency, in my opinion, to try to pick up the places where you think you have glaring holes and fill those holes and then when you go to the draft be able to draft the best players that you hope are going to have great careers in the NFL.”
There are several free agents available who could help the Broncos.
Let’s take a look at some of the rumors and buzz around the Broncos. For each rumor we will either “buy” or “sell” it. Rumors that we buy are likely to happen, while buzz that we sell may not come to fruition.
Knowshon Moreno Could Return in 2014
Mike Florio, from ProFootballTalk.com, reports that there is no market for running backs so far.
It’s true, as running backs are largely seen as a replaceable position. There are several quality backs available in the 2014 NFL draft, and teams may be inclined to add rookies rather than sign a veteran free agent.
This soft market has led some to theorize that Knowshon Moreno could return to the Broncos for a cheap price.
Buy or Sell? SELL
The Broncos seem ready to let Montee Ball be the lead back. Ball was selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft with the idea that one day he would be the starter. His time is now.
John Fox praised Ball at the scouting combine. “Obviously we think very highly of him. I thought he had tremendous growth as a rookie running back in this league. He got better with every week. We look for a big improvement next year and think he’s very, very capable.”
Fox continued with this telling comment about the need for better balance and an improved ground game.
“I think, offensively, you do strive for balance. You’d like to have that attitude, that mindset to be able to run the football. It is something that I think every year when you look back at your season and evaluate schematically or even physically where you go, that’s an area we want to improve in.”
Interest in Mike Mitchell
The team has a need at the safety position as veteran Mike Adams could move on in free agency.
Buy or Sell? SELL
Mitchell doesn’t seem like a fit for what the Broncos want from the safety position. A player like T.J. Ward could be a better option for the team. He’s better in coverage, while still being a big hitter like Mitchell.
If the Broncos were to miss out on Ward or Jairus Byrd, then perhaps they would turn their attention to Mitchell. However, at this time, it seems like this deal won’t happen.
Interest in T.J. Ward
Ian Rapoport, from NFL Network, tweeted the Broncos could have an interest in Cleveland Browns' impending free agent FS T.J. Ward. He was originally drafted by director of pro personnel Tom Heckert during his time in Cleveland.
Buy or Sell? BUY
The connection to Heckert isn’t the only reason the Broncos could add Ward in free agency.
Ward is a player who won’t come off the field. He’s always around the ball, and he’s known to intimidate opponents. Ward is a perfect fit for what Denver wants from their safeties.
His coverage skills and tackling ability make him a highly sought after prospect. In fact, National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson reports there are around 12 teams interested in Ward.
Ward could be inclined to choose the Broncos over other teams since they are still Super Bowl contenders in 2014.
Trading for Darrelle Revis
Mike Florio, from ProFootballTalk.com, speculated that the Patriots and Broncos may be interested in Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis. The Bucs owe Revis a $1.5 million bonus on March 13, so if any trade is going to happen it’s likely to happen before that date.
Buy or Sell? SELL
What would the Broncos have to trade to the Buccaneers to secure Revis in the first place? The answer is: Not much. The $16 million price tag isn’t the largest obstacle—it’s acquiring Revis in the first place.
Never say never, but this just doesn’t seem like a realistic possibility. We’re likely to see Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie signed to a new long-term contract before we’ll see the Broncos pay a steep price (twice) for Revis.
Interest in Louis Delmas
The team needs safety help, and they could explore several different options like Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward.
Buy or Sell? (tentative) BUY
We’ll see what the team does first and foremost when free agency opens up. Ward may be the team’s top priority, but if they can’t find a deal with him they’ll look at Delmas.
He’s only played a full 16-game season once in the last four years. His injury concerns could keep his free-agent price low.
Andre Caldwell May Return
Jeff Legwold, from ESPN.com, reports the Broncos may be willing to re-sign impending free-agent wide receiver Andre Caldwell if they are comfortable with the price.
The Broncos may lose Eric Decker in free agency, and they may not want two holes on the depth chart to fill at the wide receiver position.
Buy or Sell? BUY
The price tag for Caldwell is likely low. He’s a good fit as the team’s fourth receiver, and Caldwell already knows the system. Caldwell has worked diligently to build strong chemistry with Peyton Manning, and it’s doubtful he’d find a better opportunity elsewhere.
May Ask Chris Kuper to Restructure
Jeff Legwold, from ESPN.com, reports the Broncos may ask offensive guard Chris Kuper to restructure his contract this offseason in order to reduce his salary cap figure for 2014. He is scheduled to count $5.915 million against the cap next season.
Buy or Sell? BUY
Kuper is a quality player when healthy. He could start for the team if they lose left guard Zane Beadles in free agency this offseason.
His price tag is just too high right now. The Broncos paid him over $2 million last year, and he was only a reserve player as he recovered from another ankle injury.
His injury history, and the Broncos good faith last year, could lead Kuper to agree to a restructured contract.
Jared Allen an Option
In a recent interview on Sirius XM, free-agent defensive end Jared Allen expressed the desire to play for a championship contender in 2014.
“I think for my next team it will come down to a chance to win, a good organization, as well as getting a fair contract.”
That has led some to speculate the Broncos could be interested in the veteran pass-rusher. The Broncos are still in a Super Bowl window so long as Peyton Manning is under center. Speculation is also fueled by the Broncos (and Seahawks) showing interest in Allen before the trade deadline last year.
There’s no question that Allen would boost the pass rush, but at what price?
Buy or Sell? HOLD
Allen’s price tag won’t be as big as his $17 million cap number last year, but he’s unlikely to sign for a song.
With so many needs in the secondary (at both safety and cornerback), we could see a majority of the Broncos available salary cap go there. This leaves little money for a big-name pass-rusher like Allen.
If he came to Denver, Allen would have to come for an incredibly reduced price. We’re more likely going to see Shaun Phillips stay with Denver on a new deal.
Eric Decker May Get $8-$9 Million Annually
Mike Klis, from The Denver Post, speculates that free-agent wide receiver Eric Decker could command a salary around $8-$9 million, annually.
Buy or Sell? BUY
Decker is arguably the best free-agent wide receiver on the open market. With a price tag nearing $10 million annually, he’s likely priced outside of the range for the Broncos.
Both Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas are in contract years, and the team likely wants to save up to sign those two.
There are teams who should be more than willing to pay Decker that price. His production level over the last two years is going to be enticing for teams looking for help at the wide receiver position.
Note: All quotes and injury/practice observations obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Record/statistical information provided via email from the Denver Broncos. All contract information for individual players is from Spotrac.com. Cecil Lammey can be followed on Twitter @CecilLammey.