The Denver Broncos didn’t land one of the top free agents in this class, but they have quietly been one of the biggest offseason winners thus far.
They missed out on defensive tackle D.J. Reader by opting out of the bidding war that the Cincinnati Bengals were desperate to win. Reader took the monster contract, leaving the team’s main free-agent focus as a missed opportunity by John Elway and co.
Though they couldn’t secure the 25-year old run-stuffer, they made up for it in many other ways.
On Day 1, they reached an agreement with ex-Detroit Lion offensive lineman Graham Glasgow, who was one of the better interior guys to hit the market. Glasgow has played center the past two years, meaning he’s likely to replace Connor McGovern (signed with the Jets). Glasgow has missed only two games in his four-year career, is only 27 years old, and has committed just 16 penalties in 3,693 offensive snaps.
For some context, Ronald Leary played three injury-plagued years in Denver, and committed 15 penalties.
The Broncos also landed a new starting cornerback to replace Chris Harris Jr., who parted for Los Angeles despite taking less money. The team struck a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars to send a fourth-round pick (via San Francisco) for A.J. Bouye. Bouye was an undrafted cornerback that started his career in Houston, making his name there.
During his time in the league, he’s been part of some menacing defenses; including a Jaguars defense that made it to the AFC Championship in 2017 and nearly beat the Patriots to play the Eagles in the Super Bowl.
Bouye has incredible versatility having played both sides of the field as a cornerback, played the slot, played as a nickel back, and even took reps as a safety. He is a talented corner, a willing tackler, and can make plays on the ball, showcased by his 14 career interceptions (six in 2017).
Bouye will likely line up as the No. 1 corner opposite Bryce Callahan, with De’Vante Bausby as the No. 3. If the secondary can stay healthy, they have an opportunity to dominate the league with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb pursuing the opposing quarterbacks.
As previously mentioned, the Broncos missed out on D.J. Reader, but that may have been a blessing in disguise as the team struck up another trade, this time with the Tennessee Titans.
The Broncos acquired a five-time Pro-Bowl defensive tackle, who’s barely 30 years old, coming off a season that saw him anchor an AFC Championship caliber defense.
That player is Jurrell Casey.
Oh yeah, and he’s also on a relatively team-friendly contract for the next three seasons. They only had to give up a seventh-round pick (via Cleveland) that they had acquired earlier that day for fullback Andy Janovich. With Casey’s dominance inside, Miller and Chubb coming off of the edge, and the revamped secondary, this defense has a chance to be special.
On the housekeeping side of the offseason, the Broncos franchise-tagged Justin Simmons with hopes of striking a long-term contract extension before the start of the season. They also tagged Elijah Wilkerson and Mike Purcell with second-round exclusive tenders.
The team opted not to tag Joe Jones or De’Vante Bausby, however, they reached contracts with both players before that became an issue.
After making the decision to not pick up Ronald Leary’s team option, the team freed some salary cap. The Broncos also decided to cut Joe Flacco after he failed a physical, freeing up an additional $10.2 million in cap space, opening the door for Denver to bring in a veteran to back up Drew Lock.
The Broncos signed Jeff Driskel, who played his first season under Andy Dalton and his second under Matthew Stafford. He now comes to Denver having played just 12 games in his career, with a record of 1-7, having played on some really bad teams those two seasons. He will be a low-risk backup that has experience backing up some talented quarterbacks.
Then came Friday, where the team’s move of the offseason (thus far) took place, signing veteran running back Melvin Gordon to a two-year deal worth $16 million.
Gordon was frustrated with the Chargers refusing to give him a new contract, so he took less money to go to Denver, giving him two cracks against them a season. Gordon and Phillip Lindsay will make an excellent duo, and supply another set of weapons to usher Drew Lock into his second season.
With $9,914,222 required to sign their 10 draft picks, estimated via OverTheCap.com, the Denver Broncos still have almost $14.5 million to possibly make a run at another defensive free agent. Once they complete this free agency period, the draft will likely be used to primarily build the offense.
The team still has a decision to make on Garrett Bolles, which will likely be exercising his fifth-year option. While he’s made a name for himself being inconsistent and committing timely, costly penalties, he did finish 2019 with just two penalties in his last seven games.
He also didn’t allow a sack over that period.
The team brought in Mike Munchak to help get the offensive line to a competitive level, and it appeared to begin taking shape toward the end of the year.
Some fans believe that this draft is a first-round where they must select an offensive lineman, while others believe it’s “receiver or bust.” While it shouldn’t truly matter, expect the Broncos to select whichever player is the best available at one of those positions.
With a third consecutive strong draft, a successful offseason, healthy starters, and some internal player development, the Denver Broncos look poised to take 2020 by storm and correct the trend that’s persisted for three straight seasons: sub-.500 football.