Each offseason brings change for various teams around the NFL, including the Denver Broncos. What is the state of the Broncos defensive line room after NFL Free Agency?

State of the Denver Broncos defensive line

NFL Free Agency was crucial for the Denver Broncos as they addressed the departure of Dre’Mont Jones, but was it enough to sustain for an entire season? Mike Purcell, D.J. Jones, Matt Henningsen, Eyioma Uwazurike, Jonathan Harris, and Elijah Garcia are the only holdovers from last season’s roster.

Additions to the Broncos defensive line room
Knowing they’d lose Dre’Mont Jones to another team, the Broncos quickly signed former Arizona Cardinals defensive end Zach Allen to a three-year deal. Allen is a big addition to the Broncos defensive line unit that features the return of Marcus Dixon as the unit’s position coach.

One of the bigger questions surrounding Allen’s addition revolves around whether or not he can produce at a similar, if not higher level than Jones did. The fifth-year player has showcased growth on an upward trajectory each season he’s been in the league.

Will he make the Broncos defensive line better?

Sacks are an important metric for any defense, specifically players who engage in the trenches. Quarterback pressures are one of the more important metrics that hardly get talked about enough.

In the last two seasons combined, Allen has pressured opposing quarterbacks at an extreme rate of 43 times, with 25 coming in 2022 in just 13 games played.

He also accounted for 22 combined QB knockdowns in the past two years according to Pro Football Reference. Allen is a strong addition to Denver’s defense, but is it enough considering the question marks surrounding who takes over for DeShawn Williams?

This is where Henningsen and Uwazurike factor into the equation.

Both players gained valuable experience last season with Henningsen playing a more prominent role early on, with Uwazurike getting acclimated later on as the season progressed.

As the Denver Broncos embark on this new trajectory under Sean Payton, will either of these two players start opposite of Allen in their second season?

Another addition the Broncos made this off-season saw them sign former Air Force player Jordan Jackson to a futures contract, early in January.

If the Broncos have any concern internally regarding the depth at defensive end, former Broncos fan-favorite Shelby Harris could be a late free agency option they look at. Initially, George Paton had a difficult time attaching Harris to the Russell Wilson trade, but Seattle wouldn’t make the move unless he was included.

A Broncos-Harris reunion wouldn’t be a bad idea if Denver has any concerns regarding defensive end.

Broncos running it back with Jones, Purcell
D.J. Jones and Mike Purcell were two of the Broncos biggest defensive players last season. Purcell demonstrated dominance inside the trenches against the run while Jones generated pressure on quarterbacks.

2023 will be crucial as Purcell enters the final year of his contract. If Denver wanted to, they could get out of Jones’ contract after this season, but any move like that would need to make sense from a football perspective and there is nothing out there that indicates that would be the case.

Jones’ impact on defense is positive, especially when he’s healthy. He battled through several injuries last season, but played and started in 15 games while missing only two games in 2022.

2024’s outlook on the position room could be entirely different.

The defensive line duo are crucial pieces toward the success of the defense and will be needed this upcoming season.

Behind them, veteran Jonathan Harris will compete with Jackson during training camp for a spot on the 53-man roster in Vance Joseph’s defense.

The Broncos could very well look at adding another body on the defensive line with one of their five draft picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.

As it stands on paper, the Broncos defensive line has some strengths, but there is some belief that they can make one or two moves to truly solidify the optics of the room and its depth.