NFL Free Agency is underway and Denver’s already made a splash. But are the Broncos falling victim to flashy resumes, or building next season’s champion? Dan Salem and Todd Salem debate in part one of this week’s TD Sports Debate. Two brothers from New York yell, scream and debate the NFL and sports.
March 11th was the big day. NFL free agency officially got underway and there were dozens of moves. Some seemed quite impactful while others were just window dressing.
There also, of course, remain dozens more big-time players still unsigned. Last year, if you recall, the Seattle Seahawks made one of the savvier free agency splashes by waiting patiently and signing a couple of players late, for cheap; most notably Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. Who I am concerned with at the moment though is Seattle’s Super Bowl opponent this past season, the Denver Broncos.
Denver enters 2014 free agency with a lot of cap room. They also are without a number of main contributors to last season’s team.
Hall of Fame (to-be) corner Champ Bailey was already released. Starting running back Knowshon Moreno is shopping around. As is starting wide receiver Eric Decker and corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. While Rodgers-Cromartie might return, and should probably be re-signed, the same cannot be said for linebacker Wesley Woodyard and others. Starting left guard Zane Beadles was one of the early departures when he inked a new deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Of course, it hasn’t all been one-way player movement for Denver early on. They swooped in and stole Aqib Talib from the New England Patriots, as well as nabbed highly coveted safety T.J. Ward on free agency’s first day. Besides filling in the gaping holes in their secondary, the Broncos have also been pegged as a possible favorite for the newly available DeMarcus Ware of Dallas Cowboys fame. It’s been a very successful start on the surface.
From here, it still appears as if the AFC champions have more holes to fill in important places and that they may be falling victim to free agency’s biggest scam. The risk with free agency is that big names are flying everywhere and teams need to realize that the upcoming level of play may no longer match said player’s resume.
Is Talib worth the most guaranteed money ever for a cornerback? Well, no probably not, be he also has a history of injury, so he’s probably worth far less than that sum. And with Ware, are we sure he’s the player he used to be? Injuries submarined his 2013. Usually I would follow that comment up with something like, “and since Dallas released him, there must be something other teams should be wary of moving forward.” However, Dallas is not a team whose movements should be copied or mimicked, let alone learned from for that matter.
Denver’s got its work cut out for them. For upcoming moves, Denver fans may want management to sign someone like Maurice Jones-Drew to replace Moreno. However, I feel like in-house Montee Ball is a better bet for not only being a long-term number one back, but also being better next season.
Even if running back isn’t a dire need, linebacker might be and cornerback should be even with the addition of Talib. Also, the offensive line needs added depth. It is hard to pinpoint who the Broncos should be targeting. With oodles of cap room at their disposal, they have already gotten to work. I’m just not sure they are spending wisely.
I don’t think you’re giving Denver enough credit here. Defense wins championships, as the Seattle Seahawks proved decisively last season. The Broncos definitely filled major defensive holes quickly, allowing them to focus on the real positions of need later in free agency and in the draft. I’m not concerned with the money given to Talib. Much like with Peyton Manning, the Broncos are hoping for one or two strong seasons from him. That would cover the guaranteed money. Nothing after that matters. I also like the Ward signing. A championship team needs a strong secondary, anchored by its safety, and you can’t get that straight from the draft. Any player drafted from that position is now a season or two away from dominance. The Broncos have a one or two year window with Manning, no time to groom new guys on defense.
I’ll counter my Denver confidence with a warning, do not sign DeMarcus Ware. He needs to prove himself again, prove he’s worth the money he once was. But as goes the NFL, someone is going to pay him this season regardless. I see Ware as a great compliment to an already strong line backing core. He’d fit great on a team like the San Francisco 49ers or the New York Jets, with strength at the position. Denver is trying to fill a hole and that’s too big a risk to take on Ware.
The bottom line is, I trust John Elway and his team to build a Super Bowl champion. You can’t simply outscore people and win in the playoffs or the Super Bowl any longer. You need to control the clock, punch people in the mouth, and make THE big play that swings a game. Teams in the later playoff rounds are too even, all with superstars, and the difference maker is no longer the quarterback to receiver tandem. Score fast at your own risk. It doomed Denver this past season and Elway knows this. I’m expecting several more free agent moves of the non flashy variety, followed by draft day deals to move up and fill the holes at offensive line and linebacker that mentioned.