With the NFL offseason approaching, most teams have been discussing the new free-agent market that will open this summer. Some of the biggest names in football, like Tom Brady and Ryan Tannehill, are up for grabs and could end up anywhere. In all of this madness, the Broncos have to come up with a game-plan (no pun intended) to keep/pick up the players that their roster desperately needs with their initial $60 million in cap space. But first, the Broncos have to make a change.
1. Let go of Joe Flacco
The change that the Broncos have to make is to let go of Joe Flacco. In doing so, they will build on the cap space and grow it to around $70 million. This decision seems like it is all but final for the Broncos. Last season, Denver found the face-of-the-franchise talent in their rookie quarterback Drew Lock, who won four out of his first five games with seven touchdown passes and three interceptions.
If the Broncos were to do that, they would have around $70,000,000 left in cap space. Below are eleven contracts that I think that the Broncos invest in to help build their team into a serious threat to the Chiefs in the AFC West next season.
2. The Broncos should pick up Eagles OT Jason Peters
Jason Peters has been known in Philadelphia as one of the main protectors of Carson Wentz — who consequently has more than enough time to throw the ball. If the Broncos could find a way to interest him into coming to Denver, they might only have to sign him to a short-term deal with an average salary of $6,000,000 because of his age (37). He would be a great replacement for offensive tackle Garrett Bolles — who was called for 17 penalties on the season.
3. Re-sign G Brandon Scherff to a $5.3 million deal
In terms of how strong Denver’s offensive line has been, Brandon Scherff has done really well for himself. Him and Dalton Risner have made the Broncos offensive guard duo better than average. They should re-sign him to a $5.3 million deal this summer.
4. Find a way to bring ILB Danny Trevathan back to Denver
It was unfortunate for Broncos Country to see Trevathan go after their Super Bowl 50 win, but back then they just couldn’t afford him. Now that they can and that he will be a free agent this summer leaves the door open to the possibility of a possible reunion with the Broncos. This move would also bring more depth to the inside linebacker position in Denver. If this were to happen, the Broncos might have to bench Tod Davis and put Trevathan next to Alexander Johnson, who clearly established himself for this Denver team in the past season. This is a bit of a long shot, but if the Broncos can come up with $7 million to match the Bears’ offer last year, he might consider coming back.
5. Re-sign CB Chris Harris Jr. to a long-term contract
Not many people are expecting Chris Harris Jr. to stay with the Broncos this season because he declined their two-year extension offered earlier in the season. I disagree. There is more than enough money in this team’s cap space to keep him and because the Broncos do not have many cornerbacks, it would be incredibly beneficial for them to keep him. The one disadvantage to this deal would be that they would have to sign him to a long-term deal — meaning that they would probably lose around $12.05 million in cap space each season. Regardless, it would still be worth it because Denver won’t be able to find a better corner in the league. Plus his compatibility with Kareem Jackson seems to work out well for the Broncos so far, so why mess that up?
6. Re-sign Justin Simmons to a large deal
This to me seems like the biggest no-brainer of the whole summer. The Broncos should put their primary focus in this offseason in bringing Justin Simmons back because he will be one of the most coveted free agents on the market this season. Simmons had his breakout season in this past year because he finally found a way to remain healthy. He is a tremendous leader and a great locker room presence — making it extremely difficult to find disadvantages to keeping him. The one unfortunate issue is that because of this Simmons can demand a lot more money, which means that the Broncos will most-likely sign him to a contract consisting of a $14 million salary.
7. Re-sign Center Connor McGovern
Not a lot has worked out with the Broncos’ offensive line in the past few years, but the center position is not the issue. Connor McGovern has protected Joe Flacco and Drew Lock from the inside so that they have at least enough time to pass, whereas other linemen have barely been able to stay with defenders like Chris Jones or Joey Bosa. Signing McGovern to a deal that would pay him about $2.1 million a year seems understandable, since it would be the same salary that he had last year.
8. Re-sign S Will Parks
Will Parks has been a tremendous component to the new era of the “no-fly zone” in Denver. His combined speed and athleticism help elevate himself over his peers — which makes him a great safety to be playing alongside Justin Simmons. In order to keep him, the Broncos will have to make him an offer that gives him at least $2 million a year.
9. Re-sign OLB Jeremiah Attaochu to their roster
Jeremiah Attaochu might not be a name that you a very familiar with because he did not play at the beginning of the season, but he has slowly has begun to prove himself to the Broncos. Recording 3.5 sacks on the season, two of which were in their 38-24 blowout against Houston, he has emerged as one of the leading components of the Broncos’ defensive unit. Last season, he was signed to a $805,000 deal, but I’ll bet that they might offer him $1,000,000 this year because of his incredible transformation as a football player.
10. Re-sign Super Bowl 50 champ and rockstar DE Derek Wolfe
In terms of withstanding time with the Broncos, there are only two players that remain with Super Bowl 50 rings: Von Miller and Derek Wolfe. Wolfe has been such an important component to the team’s overall success and pressure that the defense has been able to apply against opponents. According to the Mile High Report, Wolfe has reportedly has made it seem that he is willing to take a pay decrease to stay in Denver:“I’m not trying to break the bank anywhere. If I have to go somewhere else, I’m not trying to break the bank there either,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe was paid $8,0000,000 last year in his four-year contract. Even at the same cost, the money shouldn’t break the Broncos’ bank. Derek Wolfe needs to be set as one of their top priorities in free agency this offseason. He can help keep the Broncos’ Super Bowl mindset.
11. Re-sign Shelby Harris to a $3.5 million deal.
Shelby Harris is one of the main reasons the Broncos have had the ability to stop the run this past year. His beastly presence alongside Derek Wolfe might turn out to be extremely beneficial for the team in the future — especially when they play Derrick Henry in their game against the Titans next season. The $3.5 million deal might turn out to be beneficial for both sides — it works great for Harris because it is more than what he was making this past season and it helps the Broncos keep one of the more dominant defensive linemen in the AFC West.
12. Give Phillip Lindsay a $5 million contract extension
Phillip Lindsay has emerged as a household name in Denver and the Broncos were really lucky to still have him on his rookie contract last season when he rushed for over 1,000 yards for his second year in a row. Otherwise, they would have had to pay him a lot of money! Recently, John Elway confirmed the Broncos’ plans to move forward in keeping Lindsay in the future:“Yeah, we’ll look at that. Again, we’ll get back into when we start planning and budgeting for 2020 and where we are money-wise. Obviously, Phillip has done a tremendous job and being the first college free agent to go over 1,000 yards (in two consecutive years to start his career). As Vic said last night, there are 32 dumb dumbs that didn’t draft him and I was one of them. Thank God we talked him into coming here,” Elway said.
I would expect Phillip Lindsay to make a lot more than he has in the past couple of years, but probably nothing more than $5 million this next season. He still has a lot to prove, and judging by his past two seasons it shouldn’t take too much longer for his football skills to intercede for him in getting a larger contract when the time comes.
Altogether, this leaves the Broncos with $4,050,000 left of their $70 million that they could save for next years’ cap space. If they were to go through with all twelve of these moves it would cost them $65,950,000. On top of these players, they also will have some nice draft picks this year to help bring more future talent to the table, but all in all… Denver wants to win now.
The only way that I believe that Denver can beat the Chiefs next year and become the number one seed in the AFC West is to pay a lot of money to keep and pick up players who can set the tone for competition and Super Bowl mindset for the rest of the team.
Photo Credit:Photo by Jeffrey Beall on Flickr