John Henderson released by Jaguars after eight seasons
John Henderson has only ever played for the Jacksonville Jaguars after they drafted him No. 9 overall in 2002. One of the team's veteran players and locker room leaders, Henderson became expendable after the Jaguars used their top two draft selections on DTs Tyson Alualau and D'Anthony Smith.
The Jaguars are clearly trying to get younger and more athletic upfront as they switch to a 4-3 defense and Henderson doesn't fit the new scheme as he is more of a 3-4 nose tackle.
Could Henderson be a good fit for the Denver Broncos?
Earlier this offseason, the Denver Broncos dipped into free agency by signing three defensive lineman to upgrade the Broncos defense. Justin Bannan, Jamal Williams, and Jarvis Green are all the type of role players that New England found a way to succeed with in McDaniels's time there (Green actually came from New England). All should come in and instantly upgrade a Broncos line that failed to produce towards the end of the season.
Though Jamal Williams instantly becomes the starter at nose tackle, he has an injury history that should make the Broncos concerned. Especially since he only played in one game last season. Williams is getting a bit long in the tooth (34 on April 28) and most likely only has one or two more seasons left in the tank.
John Henderson is 6'7" 335 pounds and fits the build of a nose tackle very well. Henderson has eight seasons of productive NFL experience and just turned 31 on January 9. Though he is also on the wrong side of 30, Henderson is still a very capable run stopper, as well as being able to produce a pass rush from the nose tackle position.
With Jamal Williams turning 34, bringing in Henderson to give the Broncos a bit more experienced depth at the nose might not be a bad idea. No one knows exactly how Williams has recovered from the triceps injury that ended his season in week one last year and putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good thing.
Henderson still produced well last season with 36 tackles, tow forced fumbles, three sacks, and two deflected passes. He's a smart, instinctive nose tackle who penetrates well, puts his hands up while moving forward to block the QB's vision and bat down passes, and is very durable (he missed four games in eight years, all in the last three seasons).
Picking him up to pair with Williams would give the Broncos two solid, veteran starters who have proved they can get it done at the nose in the NFL. Rotating between them would keep both fresh through the season and would benefit the entire defensive line.
Henderson has more of a repertoire as a pass rusher than Williams and is more of an all around DT. Williams is a pure run stopper who excels at clogging lanes and wrapping up ball carriers. McDaniels could definitely find ways to use Henderson and Wllliams in his defense and the competition and depth would only benefit the entire roster.
Should the Broncos kick Henderson's tires?
You can never have enough talented, productive, professionals in your locker room or on your team. If the price is right, a two-year, $7 million deal similar to the Jamal WIlliams one would be a low price to play for a experienced player who can easily upgrade the talent level of the defensive line. Henderson could also pair with Williams in 4-3 situations to give the Broncos some serious interior size in short yardage situations.
John Henderson is a talented player who deserves a look from the Broncos, hopefully they'll do their due diligence and see if he can improve the team. I have faith in the Broncos and McDaniels to do anything possible to upgrade the roster.