Building the offense around young talent will be a top priority this offseason for Denver, as some big names could be on their way out.
QB Kyle Orton will be a free agent this offseason, and considering his age, 26, he should be a top priority for Denver to resign. Orton did a decent job as the starting quarterback this season, but he did not produce results on a consistent basis, which could have the Broncos looking for another player at this position.
Considering that Orton is one of the top free agent QB’s available this offseason, finding a better replacement through free agency will not be an option. Denver could attempt to sign another QB for depth reasons, maybe creating an open competition at this position, but Orton will expect to start if resigned.
Rumors have been circulating that Denver could be interested in trading for Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, but that will not offer a long-term solution at this position. Bringing McNabb to Denver would instantly make them a better team, but given his issues with injuries, retaining Orton regardless might be the smartest move.
Orton’s price tag will most likely be inflated, considering the lack of talent available at quarterback this offseason. Denver will have to make a tough call on whether to resign Orton for an amount that may not be equal to what they will be receiving in return. The lack of options at this position will most likely result in Denver re-signing Orton, but Denver could bring in another free agent QB as well, or possibly make a trade to the Eagles for McNabb.
As of right now, this position is a weakness and must be improved in order for Denver to be competitive next season. Orton’s upside is that he is only 26, he has legitimate starting experience in the NFL, and knows this Denver offense. Orton’s downside is that he is not an elite quarterback, but they might have to pay him an elite quarterback salary to retain his services. Denver could also look to draft a quarterback, especially if one of the top players at that position falls to them at number eleven.
RB Knowshon Moreno had a good rookie campaign and will look to build onto that success come next season. The Broncos have found a great player and will look to build the offense around Moreno. Considering that Moreno is locked up on the roster until 2014, Denver will most likely not address this position this offseason. RB’s Correll Buckhalter, LaMont Jordan, and Peyton Hillis are solid backup options, so this position is sound.
WR Brandon Marshall is looking for a new home, so his departure will leave a massive hole at this position. The Broncos owner would like to retain his services, considering Marshall’s talent alone, but a first round pick in return for the troubled star receiver might be too hard to turn down. Dez Bryant from Oklahoma State could be available in the draft when Denver is on the clock, and if Marshall is traded, Bryant could become his replacement on this roster. Eddie Royal is only 23 and is currently a legitimate #2 receiver.
Denver will definitely be looking to improve on this position, especially if Marshall is traded, so the Broncos could test the free agency market to land a top name. Vincent Jackson, Miles Austin, Braylon Edwards, Steve Breaston, and Terrell Owens are the top names that should be available, but outside of Jackson or Austin, it will be a big step down from Marshall nonetheless.
TE Tony Scheffler is also a free agent and his departure looks certain. Owen Daniels or David Thomas would be adequate replacements, if not improvements, as both should be available in free agency. Given Scheffler’s age at 26, it will be a big loss for the team, though Scheffler was benched the last game of the season and was not happy about it. If Denver does make a trade this offseason with Washington, which seems likely given the history between the two ball clubs, TE Chris Cooley could find his way to Denver as Scheffler’s replacement.
Denver has a young stud in Pro Bowler Ryan Clady and he is only 22. Clady will be the cornerstone of this offensive line for years to come. Ryan Harris and Tyler Polumbus are both 24 and have some upside, but Denver should look to bring in some more help at this position. There are many solid offensive tackles that should be available in free agency, so look for Denver to explore those options and sign another tackle. Jared Gaither would be the top OT on the free agent list, but Baltimore will most likely keep him off of the market if at all possible.
The Broncos will look to bring in some help at this position. It seems that Chris Kuper might be on his way out, leaving another hole foe the Broncos to fill at an already weak position on the roster. Given McDaniels relationship with the Patriots, Logan Mankins could be heavily targeted. There are some other young players at this position that will be available on the free agent market, so look for the Broncos to sign at least two of the available players at this position. The offensive guard spot will be the most important position for this team to fill this offseason, especially considering the potential departures. This will also be a targeted position in the draft for the Broncos as well.
Denver will look to add some youth to this position, most likely focusing on the draft to do so. The available free agent centers this off season are nothing special, which could force Denver to spend a higher draft pick to fill this position adequately. Current center, Casey Wiegmann is 36, so finding another center as soon as possible will be a definite focus for the Broncos.
Denver definitely needs some help on offense, as it proved to be a weakness in many games this season. The potential departures of Orton, Marshall, Scheffler, and Kuper will leave some big holes that will need to be replaced with equivalent talent. Trading for McNabb would be a short term answer to the quarterback position, but it will not provide the Broncos with a long term solution.
Signing a high profile replacement to Marshall and/or spending a first round draft pick on Dez Bryant would sure up the wide receiver position. If Scheffler and Kuper leave as well, it will force Denver to spend some money or some draft picks to find comparable replacements.
Knowshon Moreno, Ryan Clady, and Eddie Royal arm this Denver offense with some solid weapons for the future. Building the right team around these players will be a top priority. Rebuilding the offensive line will help all of these players as well as increasing the production at the quarterback position, however that may play out this offseason. Denver will look to build a powerhouse unit on this side of the ball, but they will have to spend some money and draft picks to actually make it happen.
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Written by Josh Souder