Analysis

Denver Broncos Free Agency Outlook

Denver Broncos Free Agency Preview

The Denver Broncos are heading into a new era under first-time head coach Nathaniel Hackett. After Vic Fangio went 19-30 in three years with the Broncos, Denver decided to part ways with the former AP Assistant Coach of the year, opting for a more offensive-minded head coach this time around. The first-time head coach will have his work cut out for him as the Broncos look to continue building their young defense and, most importantly, find their quarterback of the future. Ever since Peyton Manning retired following the Broncos’ Super Bowl LV win over the Carolina Panthers, the Broncos have gone through 11 different starting quarterbacks with none of them appearing to be the future of the franchise at the position. This offseason will go a long way in determining how the Broncos will fare in one of the premier divisions in football for the foreseeable future.

Denver’s Impending Free Agents:

  • CB Kyle Fuller
  • RB Melvin Gordon
  • CB Bryce Callahan
  • S Kareem Jackson
  • LB Alexander Johnson
  • RT Bobby Massie
  • EDGE Stephen Weatherly 
  • IDL Shamar Stephen
  • RT Cameron Fleming
  • CB Mike Ford
  • WR Daesean Hamilton (Waived)
  • C Brett Jones
  • TE Eric Saubert
  • CB Nate Hairston
  • IDL Justin Hamilton
  • LB Micah Kiser
  • LB Josey Jewell
  • LB Kenny Young
  • LG Austin Schlottmann (RFA)
  • LB Natrez Patrick (RFA)
  • WR Diontae Spencer (RFA)
  • LT Calvin Anderson (RFA)
  • CB Essang Bassey (RFA)
  • QB Brett Rypien (ERFA)

The Broncos certainly have an extensive list of players who are set to hit the free agency market, and they will have many tough decisions to make. Among these free agents, are numerous key players who helped the Broncos stay competitive in the AFC West this past season, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The most notable of the defensive free agents are linebackers Kenny Young, Josey Jewell, and Alexander Johnson along with corners Bryce Callahan and Kyle Fuller. Meanwhile, the Broncos have a decision to make regarding the ageless safety Kareem Jackson who has continued to be a solid starter despite being 33 years of age. Then, on the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and running back Melvin Gordon are set to be free agents this offseason. While the Broncos have a contingency plan for Gordon in the form of soon to be second-year running back Javonte Williams, it is unclear what Denver will do regarding the quarterback position. This will certainly be the biggest storyline to watch for Denver in the coming weeks.

Update: The Broncos now have $26,224,246 available in cap space.

Franchise Tag:

  • N/A

Although the Broncos do have an extensive list of free agents, it seems unlikely that this group of players will warrant the franchise tag. This due to the fact that the Broncos can get these players on much cheaper deals or just replace them in free agency. Moreover, if the Broncos do end up trying to make a run at MVP QB Aaron Rodgers and Packers star wideout Davante Adams, as reports have speculated, they will need to save as much of their approximately $38.05 million in cap space as possible to obtain those players. Anything can happen, but it does not seem likely that the Broncos will choose to use their franchise tag this offseason. 

Update: The Broncos did indeed elect to not use their franchise tag this offseason. 

Top Team Needs:

  • Inside Linebacker
  • Right Tackle
  • Strong Safety
  • Cornerback Depth

Denver has a plethora of team needs this offseason with the most obvious one being quarterback. As the Broncos look to find their next franchise QB, it does not appear that it will end up being veteran Teddy Bridgewater as he tests the free agent waters. Furthermore, the Broncos could end up losing their top-four inside linebackers (Josey Jewell, Alexander Johnson, Kenny Young, and Micah Kiser), so this position becomes much more important even if the new coaching staff changes up the defensive scheme in 2022. On the offensive line, the Broncos saw an improvement from 2020, but veteran right tackle Bobby Massie is set to become a free agent. It would not be surprising in the least to see the Broncos address this spot on the offensive line so that there is some type of continuity for whichever quarterback they decide to bring in for next year. 

Even with Kareem Jackson still playing at a solid level despite his age, the Broncos could stand to get a little younger at this spot, especially if they want to form one of the better safety tandems in the league with Justin Simmons already re-signed for the next three years. Even though the Broncos had a strong secondary last year headlined by rookie sensation Patrick Surtain II, their depth will take a serious hit if Kyle Fuller and Bryce Callahan are not re-signed. Michael Ojemudia certainly took a step forward in 2021, but the Broncos should still add more pieces to the cornerback group in case any of these players go down with an injury to preserve this stout defense.

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