The official start to the 2013 NFL calendar is still nearly four weeks away, as the league kicks off it’s new year on March 12th. But teams are already starting to position themselves in terms of free agency. As a result, some big-name players are being released for cap reasons, putting more and more talent on the open market.
Today, three players that might be of interest to the Broncos became free agents.
Green Bay released defensive back Charles Woodson, a four-time Pro Bowl selection. Set to make $6.5 million in 2013, plus another $3 million in possible bonuses, the cornerback-turned-safety proved too pricey for the Packers. So they decided to part ways.
Woodson would be an intriguing fit in Denver. He’d bring a strong, veteran presence to the locker room, as he’s all about winning at this point in his career.
His agent, Carl Poston, reportedly told Ian Rapaport of NFL Network that Woodson would “like to go play for a contender, win another Super Bowl.” Denver would fit that criteria.
The question, however, is whether or not the 37-year-old defensive back has anything left in the tank. He led the NFL in interceptions just two years ago, picking off seven passes in 2011. But after moving to safety last season, Woodson proved mostly ineffective, recording only one interception in seven games.
If healthy, however, the former Heisman Trophy winner is a playmaker. That could be of interest for a Broncos defense that has the luxury of being aggressive and opportunistic.
Elsewhere, a pair of Colts were also told they won’t be returning to their current team in 2013, as both defensive end Dwight Freeney and wide receiver Austin Collie are no longer in Indy’s plans. Given that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has strong ties to both players, they could be of interest in Denver.
During his 11 seasons in Indianapolis, Freeney established himself as one of the league’s premier pass rushers. His 107.5 career sacks and seven Pro Bowl trips are proof of that fact. But, he has seen his productive tail off in recent seasons. And last year, Freeney recorded only five sacks, his lowest total since an injury-riddled 2007 campaign.
But in situational duty, Freeney could still be an effective player. And at the right price, that could be of interest to the Broncos, much in the same way Neil Smith was prior to the 1997 season.
On the other side of the ball, Collie is coming off a season in which he had one catch for six yards after tearing his patella tendon in week of 2012. But it’s his previous connection with Manning that may be of interest to the Broncos.
In 2010, Manning’s last season on the field in Indianapolis, Collie 58 passes for 649 yards and eight touchdowns in only nine games. He was eventually sidelined by a pair of concussions, ending a budding quarterback-receiver chemistry just as it was beginning to blossom.
Denver might be intrigued by the notion of rekindling that relationship, as Collie would be a viable replacement for Brandon Stokley in the slot or serve as the team’s fourth wide receiver.
As the Broncos try to build upon their 13-3 season a year ago, adding a veteran piece or two is surely a part of John Elway’s plan. Who those players will be, however, remains a mystery.
Could Charles Woodson provide a veteran option instead of Rahim Moore at safety?
Could Dwight Freeney play opposite Elvis Dumervil on passing downs to provide another rusher?
And could Austin Collie be a reliable third or fourth receiver for Peyton Manning?
Given today’s news, all three questions are now worth asking.
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