When talking about the offensive free agents in this year’s market, everything was about frugality; with the defense, though, there’s money to spend, especially on the defensive line.

Whether they reach a deal or not, the Broncos are clearly willing to give Malik Jackson a contract that will verge, if not shatter, the eight-figure mark. That also means that if Jackson does decide to leave Denver for browner pastures, John Elway will have to find someone else to spend that money on. And while everybody else who could be worth that type of money was franchised on Tuesday, there’s still plenty of quality players up for consideration.

And just think: How good would the Broncos defense be if their defensive line actually got better? The secondary and linebacking corps may already be the best in the league; one more shrewd signing and the d-line may be too!

So let’s break it down and look at five free agent linemen who could take the Broncos defense from historic to, well, whatever’s better than historic:

5. NT Terrance Knighton

Broncos defensive line

EXPERIENCE: 7 years     DRAFT: 3rd round (72nd overall) out of Temple


’15 CAP HIT: $4 M     PREDICTED ’16 CAP HIT: $1.4 M

LAST YEAR: 1.5 sacks; 29 total tackles

BEST YEAR: 3 sacks; 42 total tackles; 1 interception; 1 fumble recovery (’13)

WHY THE BRONCOS COULD BE INTERESTED: Why wouldn’t the Broncos bring Terrance Knighton back? Denver loves Pot Roast! More importantly, this Pot Roast is being sold on the clearance rack!

After two fantastic seasons in Denver, where the Jacksonville castoff revived his ailing career and led one of the best run defenses in the NFL, Knighton got greedy. He placed all of his cards on the table, looking for a big-money deal and it never came. Instead, he was left to sign a one-year, prove-it contract with the Washington Redskins, which did not go as well as he would have hoped.

A year removed, John Elway may be able to get Pot Roast on the cheap like he originally hoped for. Pair him with Sylvester Williams, and suddenly Denver’s run defense becomes even more intimidating.