One free agent Denver Broncos can’t live without before 2023 season

Denver Broncos (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /

The Denver Broncos are expected to bounce back this season in a big way with Sean Payton as the team’s head coach, but the roster feels a little bit incomplete as we approach the opening of training camp on Friday, July 28. There have been some substantial upgrades made, to be certain. Payton has come in and brought a number of former Saints players with him, but beyond just that, the Broncos made huge moves in free agency like signing offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey to a five-year deal, defensive lineman Zach Allen to a three-year deal, and veteran pass rusher Frank Clark to a one-year deal.

But are the Denver Broncos done adding to the roster?

A general manager’s work is never complete, and with training camp on deck, it’s clear that there’s one more free agent the Denver Broncos simply cannot live without. That player is none other than pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue, who is inexplicably still sitting there in free agency at the age of 28.

Yannick Ngakoue would be a perfect fit for the Denver Broncos

The Broncos traded away Bradley Chubb last year and lost Dre’Mont Jones late in the season to an injury. Their pass rush experienced some devastating results after those two guys exited the lineup, to absolutely no one’s surprise.

Down the stretch of the 2022 season, the Broncos had three sacks in the final three games. Everyone knows that sacks are not the only effective metric to look at pass rush productivity, but just three sacks in three games is a number that no team can sustain for any period of time. It could be worse, but only barely.

The Denver Broncos obviously need help off the edge and they’re banking on Randy Gregory coming back from injury and playing well this season along with veteran Frank Clark making a significant contribution. But all of a sudden, there’s a dark cloud over one of the team’s most promising young players, Baron Browning.

Browning had to have a procedure done on his knee this offseason which could keep him out for part or all of the 2023 season. It might only keep him out a couple of weeks into training camp as well, but there’s definitely some question from the outside looking in about Browning’s status for 2023, and there’s already a major question about Randy Gregory contributing for any significant portion of the season.

The Denver Broncos shouldn’t be letting a player like Ngakoue slip through their grasp. He’s obviously not going to get that lucrative of a deal at this point, and he can contribute significantly to a team that has been trying to reach the playoffs since they won Super Bowl 50 back in February of 2016. The Broncos currently have the second-longest playoff drought of any NFL team (Behind the Jets) and they have been one of the league’s worst teams since Peyton Manning retired.

You can only spend so much money in free agency, but adding Ngakoue would make so much sense. George Paton was part of the Vikings’ front office when they traded for Ngakoue, so there is some familiarity there. You have to bring pass rush in waves in the NFL, and a player like Ngakoue has proven he can give you consistent productivity in that regard.

Going up against the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert in the AFC West, I don’t know that there is a free agent that would better suit the Broncos on the eve of the 2023 season than Yannick Ngakoue.