John Elway has spoiled the Denver Broncos fan base. Not only has Elway brought five playoff appearances to Denver in his five years with the organization, he has also kept the fan based entertained in March during free agency.

There has been no shortage of Elway making flashy signings during free agency, and because of this the fan base believes this is the norm. What most fans do not realize is Elway’s method of success by utilizing free agency has actually been an outlier in the typical success free agency brings teams.

Since Elway’s first year as GM in 2011, no team has won the Super Bowl the same year they were in the top 10 of free agency spending in terms of total value of contracts signed. In fact, in that same time period only two teams even cracked the top 15 of total spending during free agency and went on to win the Super Bowl that year, the New England Patriots of 2014 and the New York Giants of 2011.

Only 10 teams in the past five years have made the playoffs while being in the top 10 in free agent spending, an average of just two teams per year. Of those 10 teams to make the playoffs, the Broncos have done it twice. The Broncos were the second-highest spender during free agency in 2012 and 2014, bringing in the likes of Peyton Manning and DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib and Emmanuel Sanders in those years. Even with the Broncos spending all of that money in each of those years, both resulted in home divisional round playoff exits.

Last year, when the Broncos won Super Bowl 50, they spent $28.8 million during free agency. This put them in the bottom third of spending in free agency at 24th overall. Compare that to the New York Jets who spent the most of any team at $178.5 million and did not make the playoffs.

While there were a few contributors to the Super Bowl from this years free agency class – starters Owen Daniels, Darian Stewart and Evan Mathis – the driving force of the team was from past free agency classes as well as the draft.

Since the Broncos spent the second-most money in free agency in 2014, many of these players that they signed are still on the books, leaving less money for free agency spending last year and this year. This also led to less turnover within the core of the team, allowing the team to build excellent chemistry.

This is not to say that free agency cannot be used to better a team, but spending money in free agency is not in any way going to ensure success in the coming year. As of March 14, five teams have spent over $100 million in free agency this year: New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, Houston Texans and the Philadelphia Eagles. The history of the past five years would suggest that only one of these teams will make the playoffs this coming year.

As of March 14, the Broncos have spent a total of $14 million in free agent contracts putting them at 21st overall. All of that $14 million was to tackle Donald Stephenson who came over from the Chiefs. For those who continue to panic over the Broncos’ quiet free agency, another team to keep an eye on is the Patriots who have spent a grand total of $965,000 on linebacker Ramon Humber.

While the Broncos did lose valuable assets to free agency – Malik Jackson, Danny Trevathan and Brock Osweiler – they still have the defensive talent to carry them to the playoffs.

The new league year and free agency only started a week ago and it takes much longer than a week to build a championship team. The Broncos still have the draft ahead of them as well as the ability to sign free agents and even make some trades.

Even though the Broncos have been nearly silent in free agency this year, history tells us it isn’€™t as bad as it looks. In fact, letting the Broncos core continue to strengthen its chemistry may just be the best offseason plan Elway can draw up to try to repeat as back-to-back champions, just like his team did in ’98.