Much like you might tell your teenage daughter, when she is trying to put on makeup and look a little older: “less is more” or “don’t try so hard.” Perhaps you would even say: “just be yourself.”
The Denver Broncos are now in the heat of the free agency signing period, and they need to apply those same principles here
Yes, this team has nearly $30 million (after signing guard Ronald Leary, that is), to spend to improve a group that took a step backward this past year, but they need to spend that money wisely. More importantly, they don’t need to try to be something that they aren’t.
We know that there are plenty of teams around the league that have to make those sexy signings. The Cleveland Browns haven’t had a winning season in 10 years, and they need to do something…anything…to help their dire situation (i.e. buying a second-round pick from the Houston Texans). That’s why they are shelling out record money.
San Francisco has loads of money to spend, and may look to bring in a big name free agent to establish some confidence under new general manager John Lynch, and new head coach Kyle Shanahan. Again, spending record money.
The Broncos have very little in common with any of these teams.
There are still a number of players hitting the market that are going to draw some very hefty offers from those types of teams.
Dont’a Hightower is an inside linebacker that could probably help the Broncos run defense. They allowed over 130 yards per game in 2016, but Hightower could be the guy that could get this group back to form. He has been exceptional while playing with the New England Patriots over the past five seasons, and you could make the case that his plays allowed the Patriots to win their last two titles. But we also know that NFL teams value Super Bowl victories, and there is no question that the price tag for Hightower is going to be hefty.
Then, there is the conundrum of whether the Broncos should go after former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Of course, Romo has spent the past 12 seasons in Dallas, where he has thrown for over 34,000. There is no questioning the passing ability of the 36-year-old quarterback. It is his health that could give teams around the league some serious questions. Romo has played in just five games over the past two seasons, due to a twice-broken collarbone, and a broken bone in his back.
Many are quick to compare the Romo situation to five years ago, when the Broncos brought Peyton Manning to Denver. Like Romo, Manning was coming off of an injury that forced him to miss an entire NFL season. That may be where the comparisons should end.
Peyton Manning was one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the league, at overcoming a poor offensive line, and getting rid of the ball quickly enough to avoid the rush. Romo’s injuries have come playing behind one of the top offensive lines in the NFL. It is hard to imagine what might happen to Romo behind Denver’s struggling offensive front. The Broncos could very well end up making a deal for Romo, only to see him get injured very early, and be right back where they are right now…minus the money they gave him, of course.
Instead of making some of those sexy, headline-grabbing moves, the Broncos might be better off aiming to find value, more bang for their buck.
NFL football is won and lost in the trenches, and this team has to get better up front, on both sides of the ball.
Free agent defensive linemen Chris Baker, Brandon Williams, or maybe even Nick Perry might be able to help take some of the double teams away from Von Miller and Shane Ray. This is an excellent defensive draft, and there are a number of players available that the Broncos can select, to fortify that defensive line.
After a bevvy of signings on the offensive side, the free agent prospects at tackle are pretty slim, and they may have to either add someone with question marks (i.e. Ryan Clady) build up the position via a pretty thin draft. Alabama’s Cam Robinson, and Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk could be possibilities.
The Broncos did great when it came to upgrading the guard position. In Leary, they found someone that has performed at a high level, yet didn’t command top-tier money. Now, they have more to spend elsewhere.
The Broncos aren’t in a situation where they need to reach for anything. This team wasn’t all that sexy when they won Super Bowl 50. The offense was pedestrian, but limited their turnovers in the playoffs, and manufactured points when they were needed. The defense was excellent, shutting down the run, and forcing opposing quarterbacks into mistakes.
It won’t be sexy, and there won’t be much fanfare over those moves, but as they proved two seasons ago, sometimes ugly can look pretty darn good.