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Joshin’ Around: What to Expect in Free Agency

February 21, 2009

bleacher-report3Over the last week, we have seen 12 Broncos get cut by New GM Brian Xanders, and three more are set to leave via free agency. Of these 15 players, eight of them were opening day starters on defense last season. That means the Broncos have a lot to do this offseason.

But while the Broncos have created $38 million in cap space by ridding themselves of these disappointments, don’t expect them to be throwing their money at any of the marquee free agents. While signing a player like Albert Haynesworth, Julius Peppers, or any other big name player would be nice, none of these players would be good signings for the Broncos. Why?

Because the Broncos need eight new defensive starters. Eight! So tying up half of their cap in one player would be defensive suicide. With that in mind, let’s take a look at where their free agency money should go.

With the Broncos officially transitioning to a 3-4, they will need a slew of new defensive lineman. With Dewayne Robertson, John Engelberger, and Ebenezer Ekuban gone in free agency and Jarvis Moss and Elvis Dumervil likely moving to outside linebacker, the Broncos are left with only Tim Crowder and Marcus Thomas on the defensive line. Crowder is expected to get a real shot at winning a spot as a 3-4 end, and Thomas, being very small for a DT, may also make the transition to end.

At the end position, expect the Broncos to make a push for Chris Canty and Igor Olshansky, two ends who have played in the 3-4 their entire careers. Canty, a four-year veteran from the Cowboys, if signed, would instantly be the best end the Broncos have had in a long time. Olshansky, a five-year vet, played under new defensive line coach Wayne Nunnely in San Diego, and could also make an instant impact on the D-line. At DT, I would like to see the Broncos sign a veteran guy like Grady Jackson to hold the fort down while the Broncos hopefully develop a guy they pick up in the draft.

The Broncos have a little more talent in the linebacking corps, but are still missing a few pieces. They have a solid group of outside linebackers, with D.J. Williams and Wesley Woodyard expected to be starters, and Moss and Dumervil expected to come on as rushers oin passing downs. On the inside, however, the Broncos don’t really have anything. Spencer Larsen and Boss Bailey are both expected to be backup guys, but the Broncos don’t really have any starters in the middle.

In free agency, I believe that the Broncos will make a big push for Channing Crowder from the Miami Dolphins. A four-year vet, Crowder had a breakout year last season, playing in the Dolphin’s 3-4 system, and he could make a similar impact in Denver. For the other spot, I expect the Broncos to draft a guy like Rey Maualuga or Brian Cushing to man the middle opposite Crowder.

In the secondary, the Broncos need arguably the most work of any other position on defense. The only starter they have left is Champ Bailey, and Jack Williams, Josh Bell, and Josh Barrett are expected to all be backups in the secondary. This leaves Denver with three starting spots to fill on defense.

Luckily for the Broncos, there are plenty of free agents available to fill their needs. To start opposite Bailey, the Broncos will go after players like Dunta Robinson of the Texans, Bryant McFadden of the Steelers, or Ronald Bartell of the Rams. All have less than five years in the league, but all are more than ready to take starting jobs in the NFL. Also, don’t be surprised if the Broncos make a play for Domonique Foxworth, a player they released that wone a starting job in Atlanta. At safety, there is a veritable smorgasbord of young players who are all deserving of a starting job. Jermaine Phillips of the Bucs, Yeremiah Bell of the Dolphins, James Sanders of the Patriots, and Jim Leonhard of the Ravens are all young guys in free agency, and all would fit perfectly in the Broncos secondary without breaking the bank.

With free agency beginning this week on the 27th, expect the Broncos to be one of the most aggressive teams in the league. They’ll have to be, because with eight open spots on defense, the Broncos have a lot of work to do.

Check back next week for the next post of “Joshin’ Around.”

  1. Jon Krause permalink
    February 22, 2009 3:07 PM

    wait! wait! WAIT! is Elvis gonna be a LB!!!!???
    that would be sooooo sweet! he’d rock! love him!
    he gets billions of sacks 🙂

    • February 22, 2009 3:11 PM

      that’s the rumor. but honestly i like jarvis moss there a bit more. don’t get me wrong elvis would be great at linebacker but i would rather see moss make the move if we could only choose one.

      • Josh Vitale permalink
        February 22, 2009 3:25 PM

        I’ve heard rumors that moth would be moving to a rush olb position. neither are big enough to play 3-4 end, and the Broncos don’t want to lose Dumervil’s rush abilities, so really the only option is to move him too.

  2. Jon Krause permalink
    February 22, 2009 3:08 PM

    yeremiah bell i think it underated, but not all to great, don’t know if he’d fit W/ our D

    • Josh Vitale permalink
      February 22, 2009 3:27 PM

      Yeah I’ll agree that he isn;t one of the better options, but any one of the other three i mentioned would be solid pick ups. Coaches in Tampa said that Phillips has John Lynch-type ability, James Sanders was a solid player in NE, and Leonhard was one of Rex Ryan’s favorite players in Baltimore. I would take any one of those three in a second.

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