Mile High Sports

Broncos could finally find a reliable third receiver in free agency

Dec 31, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver Eric Decker (87) celebrates after a first down during the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

If the 2017 season showed Broncos Country anything, it’s that Denver’s team is more than just a quarterback away from being a contending football team once again.

The last two seasons have made it clear that the Broncos have several holes to fill as they head in to 2018, and they’ll have a few opportunities to do so. Plenty can change from the time when the new league year begins on March 14 and when the final roster is set in early September.

Wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders have both been extremely solid receivers during their tenures in Denver, but they haven’t been fortunate to have a dependable third wide receiver to take the pressure off of them a little bit.

If the Broncos do decide to keep both of them, which would be a wise thing to do considering they are currently looking to lure a quarterback to town, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to look into investing in a quality third receiver to take the passing game to the next level.

The Broncos drafted two wide receivers, Isaiah McKenzie and Carlos Henderson, in the 2017 draft. It’s been welldocumented how McKenzie’s season turned out, but Henderson was placed on injured reserve after he suffered a thumb injury during the preseason.

Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer have assumed the role of the Broncos’ third wide receiver for the last three seasons, but neither have consistently impressed.

Now, just for fun, let’s consider a few reasonable directions the Broncos could go in free agency to find a solid third wide receiver if they choose to part ways with Fowler and/or Latimer and give McKenzie and Henderson more time to get the hang of things in the NFL.

Ryan Grant

The fourth-year receiver is coming off of his best year as a pro by far. Grant caught 45 passes for 573 yards and four touchdowns as a member of the Washington Redskins in 2017, and did so making far less than the other free agent wide receivers with comparable numbers. If the Broncos do manage to land Kirk Cousins, signing a familiar face in Grant could be a nice bonus for both Denver and Cousins.

John Brown

Unlike Grant, Brown is coming off of his worst year as a pro. He caught 21 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns, but he only played in 10 games. Despite the low numbers, Brown has shown promise in the past. His 1,000 receiving yards in 2015 might have been an outlier, but it also shows the type of receiver that he can be. Brown wouldn’t have to be a 1,000-yard receiver if he teamed up with Sanders and Thomas, and that could be exactly what all three parties need to get back on track.

Eric Decker

Decker has had a rollercoaster of a career after leaving the Broncos to join the New York Jets in 2013. While he was close to putting up similar numbers to the ones that he did in Denver, he never quite reached that same level of production. After three seasons with the Jets, he spent last season catching 54 passes for 563 yards and one touchdown as a member of the Tennessee Titans. While he played in all 16 games, he only started in eight. Decker has expressed some regret for leaving the Broncos in the past and remains close friends with Demaryius Thomas. Would he take a bit of a ‘hometown’ discount to come back to the franchise that drafted him? It’s not too crazy of a thought.