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Mile High Salute w/ Mike Koele: Who Denver Needs to Target in Free Agency

February 23, 2009
Gabe Watson

Gabe Watson

This week the crazy period of free agency in the NFL begins.  This time of year is always interesting to me in terms of how teams fill their needs or waste their money.

Denver might be the team this year that needs free agency and the draft most to fill the voids left from the recent pre-spring cleaning in Dove Valley.  Many names have been tossed around and after players were franchised last week that list should have become a lot shorter.  Denver, in my opinion, needs to avoid the big contract guys like Haynesworth and focus on solid players that fit the system and don’t command a hefty price tag instead.  Here are the 3 players I think Denver needs to go after quickly who will make an immediate impact in the 3-4 defense we inevitably will end up in.

Igor Olshanksy – Olshansky, currently a San Diego Charger, is the perfect fit at defensive end who will make an immediate impact for the Broncos who sorely need help in that area.  Listed at 6’6″ and 309 lbs. Olshansky can fill some space and is more than capable at getting pressure on the quarterback as well as stopping the run.  He won’t come at too high of a price but is all value.

Gabe Watson – Any 3-4 defense has to have an NT in order to really do anything.  Watson more than fits the bill coming in listed at 6’3″ and 332 lbs. officially (although he is closer to 400 lbs. than that in reality).  Watson is an absolute beast against the run and still very capable at causing issues for the quarterback from time to time. 

Denver needs a guy this size with this sort of ability to center their new-look defense around.  Like Olshansky, he shouldn’t come at too high of a price and may even be had for a 2nd round pick.  A popular solution at NT is to take Boston College’s B.J. Raji who may not even be around at the #12 pick in the 1st round anyhow.  If Denver can get a guy like Watson through free agency, it frees the #12 spot up for another need *cough* Rey Maualuga *cough*.

Ronald Bartell – The Denver Post talked a little this week about Denver having their eye on both Bartell (St. Louis) and Bryant McFadden (Pittsburgh).  My money is on Bartell if I had to choose between the two.  Bartell played well on a team that was otherwise pretty terrible defensively.  McFadden is decent, but had the luxury of a dominant line to play behind and was just that…decent. 

Either one of them would be a great option opposite Champ Bailey and certainly an upgrade over Dre Bly in talent and age (they are both 27, 5 years younger than Bly).  Bartell is also a bigger guy, listed at 6’1″ and 209 lbs. against McFadden who is listed as 6’0″  and 190 lbs. which could make a difference as solid tackling corners are an absolute must for a 3-4 to work.  Bartell just seems to be the more physical of the 2 corners  and a better tackler to me…making him the choice Denver should make.

There are many glaring needs for the Broncos, there is little doubt about that.  Safety will be another key position they have to fill before the season starts.  These are just the 3 affordable and realistically attainable players I think Denver should go after in the coming weeks to set a firm foundation for the future.

One Comment
  1. February 23, 2009 5:55 AM

    I like most of this especially Igor Olshansky. I think with Wayne Nunnely here he will be even more interested. But I do disagree with you on one thing and that is going after Gabe Watson. I hate RFA’s and will never get them unless they’re lower than round two. We need to build this team through the draft. So I am thinking that John Thorton from the Bengals might be a good temporary answer. He has lots of playing experience and is excellent against the run even if he is no longer starting material anymore. He could really keep the seat warm for a player like Ron Brace for half a season to a year.

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