The annual media BBQ held at Dove Valley on the eve of Broncos training camp is usually a fun, casual affair. It’s a chance for the media to sponge some free brisket in advance of three weeks of early mornings, late nights and severe temperature swings as the days leading up to the season play out and the various news outlets blanket the market with Broncos news.
But this year there was a burning question on the grill…
Will (or perhaps when will) the Broncos sign free agent tackle Jake Long?
The BBQ, which became far more formal this year, in the team’s newly renovated Dove Valley headquarters even took on the look of a press conference, with general manager John Elway fielding questions, including the biggest one on everyone’s mind.
Just minutes before the start of the BBQ, Troy Renck of the Denver Post released a story saying that Denver would not be signing Long to a contract, but the club wouldn’t “count anything out.”
Despite the report, the gathered media still chose to press the issue with Elway.
As Adam Kinney, host of BSN Sports Desk on Mile High Sports Radio, reported via Twitter, Elway reiterated the team’s stance.
Elway on Jake Long "At this point and time were not going to make any move, but never count anything out." #broncos
— Adam Kinney (@AdamKinneyRadio) July 30, 2015
Long’s visit to Denver comes at a curious time, as camp starts tomorrow and the Broncos are trying to shore up an offensive line that lost three starters from last year, including All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady to a season-ending ACL injury.
Rookie Ty Sambrailo has been installed as the starting left tackle for the time being, but Long’s visit makes it evident that Denver is not wholly convinced the Colorado State product is up to the task of protecting the Broncos’ most valuable blind side since Elway himself.
The presence of Long, who is coming off back-to-back ACL surgeries of his own, signals that Denver will begin tomorrow’s training camp with plenty of doubt about Sambrailo and other possible replacements like Chris Clark, who filled in at left tackle in 2013 when Clady went down for the year with a lisfranc injury.
Long was cut by the Rams in March after spending much of his two years with the team on the injured reserve after signing a four-year, $36 million contract. The four-time Pro Bowler had previously met twice with the New York Giants before meeting with the Broncos.
New York has nearly $5 million available in salary cap, while Denver has more than $7 million. The fact that Long has not signed with either club, both of whom need a veteran presence at the position, could be a sign that Long’s health remains a major concern, or that he’s asking for too much money – possibly both.
In keeping with the historically light-hearted nature of the annual media BBQ, Mile High Sports Radio’s Renaud Notaro sent this funny tweet, poking fun at the fact that Elway had a paper placard on the table in front of him during the question and answer period:
— Renaud Notaro (@RenKnowItAll) July 30, 2015
He also owned a car dealership, Renaud.