The Denver Broncos traded their top wideout, Brandon Lloyd, to the St. Louis Rams (0-5) on Monday for a sixth-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft, which could become a fifth-round pick contingent upon the receiver's performance in the Rams' final 11 games.
I think it was a locker room move.
Face it—Lloyd was extremely vocal about keeping Kyle Orton as the Broncos' starting quarterback and he voiced his opposition to all the fan- and media-noise supporting giving last year's first-round pick, Tim Tebow, a shot under center.
Lloyd certainly has the right to voice his opinion, but the Broncos are going all-in with the infectious Tebow and Lloyd was essentially let go for supporting Orton, with whom he first played and developed a rapport in Chicago in 2008, and for not jumping on the Tebow bandwagon sooner.
BRONCOS MOVING FORWARD WITH TEBOW AND YOUNG TARGETS
Contrary to some fans' reactions to the trade, which I've read in comments posted around the Internet, the team is not trying to sabotage Tebow in order to get into the "Suck for Luck" campaign, and with DeMaryius "Bebe" Thomas and Eddie Royal returning to the lineup, Denver still has weapons at wide receiver.
Remember, Royal set the rookie record for most receptions and is still a dangerous slot receiver when healthy. Thomas was Denver's first pick of the 2010 draft ahead of Tebow and was taken with the pick before Dez Bryant, so he has high expectations, too.
Denver will miss Lloyd's acrobatic catches and Tebow may have benefited from his ability to stretch the field, but something has always seemed amiss about the enigmatic receiver going back to his days in San Francisco and Washington. This move was akin to extracting a benign tumor before it has a chance to become malignant.
RECOVERING FROM THE PAST...
Trading Lloyd is not the start of a fire-sale, even if the Broncos somehow move Orton before the end of today's trade deadline. The real fire sale in Denver happened when baby-faced former Broncos head coach—and current Rams offensive coordinator—Josh McDaniels came in as the Anti-Bronco and drove Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Tony Scheffler and a guy named Peyton Hillis out of town.
Denver is still trying to recover from Pat Bowlen's head coach firing/hiring blunder of December 2008, and the team's biggest concern right now is on the defensive side of the ball.
Ironically, the Broncos purged Mike Shanahan's No. 2-ranked NFL offense in McDaniels' 1.5 seasons in Denver, yet they had one of the league's top defenses in his first season with Mike Nolan as the team's defensive coordinator.
Hopes of another incarnation of the Orange Crush quickly faded, though, with Nolan's abrupt departure following the 2009 season.
...AND BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE
I live in Charlotte and I know McDaniels' replacement, former Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox, to be a conservative, run-oriented/ball-control coach who wins with defense.
Whether his conservative offensive approach flies in Denver is yet to be seen, but he took over George Seiffert's 1-15 Panthers team in 2002 and had them in the Super Bowl the following year.
However, Fox never led Carolina to consecutive winning seasons, so the jury is still out on his approach.
Whatever Fox's approach may be, the Broncos need Executive V.P. John Elway's team-building philosophy and Brian Xanders' GM skills to put a winning product on the field.
This combination will be the catalyst to assemble a team the head coach can guide back to the top of the AFC West and to the playoff success Broncos fans became accustomed to up until the last five years, or else more billboards calling for change will show up around Broncos Nation.