Finally, free agency is off and running.

The Broncos entered free agency with the sixth-most cap space, at $32.6 million, and even though it’s supposed to be a somewhat quiet offseason, the excitement is high in Broncos Country.

That’s because new GM George Paton is calling the shots around the Mile High City now, taking over for John Elway, meaning almost anything is possible this year. And Denver had a huge Day 1 of free agency, all told.

First, they re-signed Shelby Harris to a 3-year, $27 million deal. And later in the day, it was reported the Broncos will not re-sign Kareem Jackson, letting the safety walk instead of picking up his $10 million option while giving Phillip Lindsay the low round tender which could mean he leaves as well.

But in the middle came the new GM’s first signing of another team’s player in Ronald Darby, a 27-year old cornerback who played well for the Washington Football Team last year, leading the league with 16 passes defensed. Darby is a six-year veteran who dealt with some injury issues in Philadelphia from 2017-19 but bounced back in 2020 to play all 16 games.

Per Pro Football Focus, his 69.8 grade made him the 28th-best corner in the league last year and he allowed 50 receptions on 92 targets.

Darby immediately becomes the No. 1 cornerback on the team after Paton released A.J. Bouye earlier this offseason in a money-saving move. But, according to Benjamin Allbright, the Broncos may not be done adding cornerbacks this offseason.

Considering they saved $11.8 million on Bouye’s deal and paid $10M to Darby, and given the fact they will likely go cheaper in the safety department, could the Broncos go after another big-time free agent corner?

One name to keep an eye on is Xavier Rhodes, the former Colts cornerback who was PFF’s ninth-highest graded CB in 2020 (77.3 overall). Rhodes is a true No. 1 corner, and he enjoyed 12 passes defensed with one interception and a touchdown last season in Indy.

According to Spotrac, his “market value” is $7.3 million per year, which is less than Denver paid Darby, and he could shift Darby over to the No. 2 role with Bryce Callahan in the slot. That would give the Broncos one of the best secondaries in football, with Justin Simmons at free safety, and if they spent all that money at corner, it would be fine to simply promote Will Parks to strong safety.

There are plenty of other big-named options out there, too, like Chidobe Awuzie or Mike Hilton; it just depends on how much Paton wants to pay in his secondary.

What seems more likely is the Broncos spending less on a second free agent cornerback and then using a draft pick on one this April.

But, it also seems telling that Michael Ojemudia, the third-round pick from the 2020 NFL Draft, isn’t just getting slotted into the starting spot. He certainly had an up-and-down rookie season and seemed to fall out of favor with Vic Fangio later in the year.

The Broncos definitely aren’t done in this free agency period and even if they don’t add another cornerback today, expect the news of Von Miller’s option either being picked up, the two sides restructuring his deal or for Miller to be released. That would end his 10-year run of dominance in Denver and the Broncos have until today to make a decision on that team option.