The Denver Broncos are done extending the olive branch of peace and receiving nothing in return.
In fact, the entire team is in renovation mode—starting from bottom up.
After seven years of loyalty, the Broncos took a sledgehammer to another section of dry wall on Tuesday. It was almost like shooting Old Yellar in the head with a water pistol, but it’s now safe to say, KCNC Channel 4 is no longer a part of Broncos regular season football.
And who said the Broncos don’t have their priorities straight?
Before all of this came to light, CBS originally planned to broadcast 12 of the Broncos regular season games this year. That may still go ahead. Yet, Channel 4 was a handy friend when it came to pregame interviews, or for their weekly coach catchup which would’ve seen John Fox make his debut this year.
But now, you’ll probably have to make friends with NBC KUSA Channel 9. Yep, it’s almost like starting school all over again.
All of this eviction and name dropping is what fans have been waiting for, though. It’s a positive sign for a team who is headed in the right direction. And even though there are still a few elephants in the room mooching off of Pat Bowlen’s expensive suede wallet, taking the trash out has been a chore penciled on the Broncos fridge for quite some time.
Still, perhaps I have led you on a bit here. By all means, get ahead of yourself. Heck, bring out your football cards and reminiscence if you want. But don’t ask me for reimbursement when you purchase your AFC Champions t-shirt, and the Broncos flip flop toward another 4-12 season.
So to ensure that I am not legally responsible for the lavish trip to Indianapolis you plan with your family, or the many Tim Tebow dolls you may purchase for the October rapture, let me bring you back to earth by listing several other ties the Broncos must cut.
It’s almost like taking your original G.I Joe from when you were a kid and sticking it down your InSinkErator—that’s how long it feels Brian Dawkins has been in the NFL.
But Dawkins’ best years are slowly starting to evaporate. He no longer has that danger factor about him anymore when a quarterback is stewing in the pocket, and although he recorded an interception last season and two forced fumbles, it’s time for the Broncos to call curtains on this experiment.
At the age of 37, the body throws in the towel. And it’s not in the nick of time, either. Dawkins’ hips are the biggest concern, and so are his knees. So after Brett Favre became a crash test dummy for the NFC North last season, it’s time for Dawkins to let his heart do the talking.
After being such a profound motivator in Philadelphia, we shouldn’t expect any less from Dawkins. His job title is team leader, and his role is to make the big calls on defense.
Dawkins will play for as long as he feels able to. He isn’t the kind of guy who will play the “There is an I in team” card. But the Broncos have a 32nd ranked defense to readjust…and it’s already May. To go along with all of that, Dawkins’ $6 million paycheck also isn’t earning him any friends.
The Broncos don’t need a player who is 32 years old, especially at running back. Nor does head coach John Fox need to dwell on a player who has never cracked the four-figure mark in yards in his 11-year career. That said, Knowshown Moreno isn’t winning any awards for best in show either.
Buckhalter posted two touchdowns on the board last season, one of the few positives available before he is shopped to the glue factory. He is still a slow runner though, and in the end zone, any possession is likely to be given to Moreno ahead of a 32-year-old veteran.
The Broncos run game is in need of a serious spark. The Jets were in this position a year ago under Shonn Greene; they signed LaDainian Tomlinson and never looked back. The one-two punch combination of Moreno plus Mr. X lies somewhere in Denver’s future, but some space needs to be freed at the running back spot.
It’s hard to say exactly what the Broncos could gain for Buckhalter, but a late round draft pick could be up for grabs if one team is willing to take him on board.
It’s in the Broncos' best interests to say tah-tah to Buckhalter, especially since he is due to earn a whopping $1.92 million next season. Fox must make sure he gains somebody in return, though. Otherwise, he will fall victim to what is now known as pulling a “Josh McD.”
It’s time for John Fox to stop playing overprotective coach. Yes, he hasn’t even Motorola-ed up for his first official game yet, but the Broncos wide receiver game is a hot topic of debate that needs some face time.
The biggest problem here is the fact that Brandon Lloyd is his own desert island. Brandon Marshall is seemingly besides the point one year after taking his talents to South Beach, and now the Broncos are left with one serious target on offense, plus a guy in the shadows named Jabar Gaffney.
Touchdown tally is by far the biggest strike against Gaffney’s name if you are willing to believe it. He’s posted just six scores on the board in the past three years, while he also has a lifetime subscription to the under 1,000-yard club.
Here’s the final problem with Gaffney: competition. Eric Decker is hot on his heels right now; in fact, he may be ahead of him well and truly. And after Brian Dawkins discussed leadership earlier this offseason, there will be more than just a race at quarterback for the starting role on offense.
Gaffney’s served the Broncos well. Yet not well enough.
Denver is in need of leaders on offense, and Gaffney isn’t cutting it.
The Broncos can ill afford to be releasing players on defense ahead of next season. Renaldo Hill on the other hand is one of few exceptions thanks to a hefty contract and a funny little number called age.
Hill is set to earn $2.4 million this season if he is to remain a Bronco. Parting ways with a defensive back is far from ideal for a team who struggled significantly against the run last year, but after picking up Quinton Carter with one of two fourth round picks in the draft, it’s a move John Fox can probably live with when he goes to sleep at night.
Unlike other members of Denver’s dishwater defense, Hill has been moderately consistent. He recorded two interceptions last year and forced a fumble, although defensive coordinator Dennis Allen would more than likely be displeased with his tackle numbers in 2010.
Don’t totally write of Hill’s market value, though. He is 32, sure. But many teams are in search for an experienced defensive back, although the lockout poses the biggest threat to the chances of shopping Hill.
It’s a roll of the dice Fox must take if he is serious about redeveloping the run stop. Then again, parting ways with veteran players is never what the fans like to hear.
Stupid Like a Fox? Not At All
You might think Pat Bowlen gets paid to sit on his hands all day, but that’s a myth. Of course, there’s nothing to say he doesn’t enjoy warming his hands, but there’s nothing to say he isn’t capable of making these calls sometime in the immediate future.
It’s kind of like a giant game of Guess Who in Mile High. The Broncos are cutting ties with everybody but the obvious, and this whole matchmaking process is both awkward and tedious for Denver’s fan base. But there’s options out there for John Fox to consider. And for the guys who have dropped the ball repeatedly, there’s other teams for them to consider also.
Maybe sending Channel 4 packing is all the Broncos needed.
Now that several TV executives may be out of a job, why not go ahead and sack a few players at the same time?
It makes sense.
Welcome to the real world Denver Broncos.