With the Combine starting this week, it’s as good a time as any to do a 2020 Denver Broncos offseason recap so far.
It was news a week before the combine that the Broncos wouldn’t send their entire coaching staff to Indianapolis, only head coach Vic Fangio would attend in person. The rest of the team stayed back in Denver to watch film, have full access to their computers, and have access to the interview sessions from their desks.
The Los Angeles Rams were the only other team in the NFL to follow this model and time will tell if it is the right move.
In the offseason, typically a team has to act on a handful of things in no particular order. Those items are traditional: Signing their own restricted free agents, making decisions on club options, making salary cap roster decisions, attending the combine, the NFL draft, and free agency.
With their restricted free agents below, the team has to make decisions on what kind of tender to put on them. Other teams can effectively negotiate contracts with these players that upon accepting, the Broncos can match to retain the player.
CB DeVante Bausby, 27
OL Elijah Wilkinson, 25
LB Joe Jones, 26
DL Mike Purcell, 29
QB Brandon Allen, 27
WR Tim Patrick, 26
The Broncos picked up team options for two big players: starting placekicker Brandon McManus and starting middle linebacker Todd Davis. These moves respectively commit $4.25 million and $6 million for 2020.
The team also made the decision to not pick up Ronald Leary’s option, freeing up $8.44 million in cap space for the 2020 season.
According to John Elway, the team still hasn’t made a decision on the option on Garrett Bolles’ contract. With the 15th pick in the draft, in an Offensive Tackle-strong draft, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Bolles’ contract dropped and the team finds his replacement in the draft.
At the same time, Bolles, working with Mike Munchak, strung together some good tape and Pro Football Focus numbers toward the end of 2019 and could come back to be the elite tackle they drafted him to be.
As for some other salary cap decisions, Joe Flacco has not been medically cleared and Vic Fangio said: “We think he will be, and then we will see where he’s at vs where we’re at”. The Broncos can save $10 million in cap space this season by cutting Flacco, and his dead money hit would be off the books by next season freeing up more money next year. Fans are expecting Flacco to be out of Denver sooner rather than later, fully committing to Drew Lock.
Elway and Fangio echoed that the backup quarterback doesn’t necessarily have to be a veteran, but they would like it to be, and conveniently forget Flacco’s name on the list of current backups on the roster (reference Brandon (Allen) and ‘Rip’ Brett Rypien). Personally, I’ve seen the Broncos mocking a backup quarterback in the 2020 draft, and if the right enigma of a player is there, I wouldn’t be upset (looking at Jalen Hurts).
Free Agent talks with Chris Harris Jr., Derek Wolfe and Shelby Harris, who would be the team’s priority in-house unrestricted free agents, haven’t gone anywhere. The Broncos haven’t reached out to any of their representatives, likely waiting until after the combine and possibly after the draft.
Last heard, Harris Jr. will likely be gone, but wouldn’t be against coming back if the Broncos make a competitive offer. Derek Wolfe wants to be in Denver, he considers this home, and would even consider a team-friendly contract. Shelby Harris has stated this contract is 100% about the money, as it will likely be the last contract he receives and wants to make sure he doesn’t leave money on the table.
John Elway says he wants a long term deal with Justin Simmons and they are working toward that, but if an agreement isn’t reached they will franchise tag him. The team will without a doubt have Simmons playing next season, it just depends on negotiations, if he’s here for five years or only guaranteed for 2020.
The strategy for the Denver Broncos has stated this offseason that they look to reload the defense through free agency and to continue to build the offense through the draft. It’s likely the Broncos take either one of the stud Wide Receivers in the first round or one of the stud offensive linemen.
Big names that could fall to Denver at 15 are Tristan Wirfs and Henry Ruggs III both of which would be extremely welcomed, however, both are expected to dramatically boost their draft stock at the combine.
The Broncos will likely have around $70 million in cap space once all decisions are settled, along with 12 draft choices (seven in the first four rounds). Some holes need to be filled, but they have the money, draft capital, and opportunity to sprint into 2020 with the playoffs in mind.
Players linked to Denver so far this off-season:
Byron Jones – Dallas Cowboys UFA, young star Cornerback could slot into CHJ’s currently vacant position and shine immediately
Amari Cooper – Dallas Cowboys UFA, young star Wide Receiver could come in and immediately boost the wide receiver room and free up Courtland Sutton
Darius Slay – All-Pro cornerback/Safety for the rebuilding Detroit Lions that could be available for trade, for the right asset price.
Prince Amukamara – Once a stellar cornerback in a Vic Fangio lead defense, was released by the Bears to test free agency, could be reunited.