Top remaining free agents the Denver Broncos should target in the second week of NFL free agency

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett (16) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers defensive back K'Waun Williams (24) during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field.
December 29, 2019; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett (16) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers defensive back K'Waun Williams (24) during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos and general manager George Paton had a pretty impressive first week of NFL free agency, but several holes that need to be filled remain.

The franchise just spent several picks and players to acquire Russell Wilson, who just became the organization’s most valuable asset. As a result, upgrading his protection should be a top priority for the Broncos, particularly at right tackle.

It should also be noted that the Broncos are coming off a 2021 season that saw them feature the league’s worst pass rush, per pass-rush win rate. They also presently only have Essang Bassey rostered as a nickel cornerback. As a result, nickel-corner, the defensive line, and the edge-rushing room are all areas of serious need for the Broncos.

How can they address those needs? Here’s a list of 12 intriguing veterans Paton and Co. should consider.

Bryce Callahan, NCB

Callahan is an excellent option to fill the Broncos’ need for a nickel-corner for obvious reasons. He’s already familiar with the team, scheme, and plays the position at a high level.

The major drawback is his injury history, but most of the other available options have troubling injury histories of their own. Plus, that history makes Callahan much more affordable than he has any right being, allowing Denver to get a quality option at a price they can afford.

Duane Brown, OT

To give Wilson extra security in the pocket, why not target a former teammate in Duane Brown?

Brown isn’t the same player he was earlier in his career (now at age 33), but he’s still an above-average starting right tackle who makes sense in a zone-blocking scheme and knows how to block for Wilson, which is a unique challenge given the quarterback’s mobility and tendency to extend plays.

He might be towards the top of Denver’s price range, but he could be worth it for a one-year rental.

Arden Key, EDGE

If the Broncos want to take another boom-or-bust swing at the edge-rusher position, Key could be an intriguing option.

Key failed to make a meaningful impact of any kind during his time with the Las Vegas Raiders, but after arriving in San Francisco, he flashed the talent that once had him hyped up as a potential top draft pick. His success could have been based on his advantageous setting, but if he’s finally pieced his impressive traits together, the Broncos could land an awesome rotational option at a bargain-bin price.

Nate Hairston, NCB

Hairston checks a lot of the same boxes as Callahan does when it comes to filling Denver’s need for a nickel cornerback. The big differences between the two are that Callahan is much more established and has performed at a much higher level, but he’s also considerably healthier and younger.

Hairston would ideally be brought in alongside another option, just in case he doesn’t take a developmental step, but Denver should be looking to bring in more options at nickel anyways.

Riley Reiff, OT

Like the aforementioned Brown, Reiff might end up being too expensive for the Broncos, but they should certainly consider him.

Reiff would bring a steady, veteran presence, and even if he’s not the most ideal scheme fit, he is relatively scheme versatile. Plus, as much as it hurt to miss out on La’el Collins, that move also made it much more likely that Reiff leaves Cincinnati.

K’Waun Williams, NCB

When looking for potential cornerback additions for the Broncos, one must prioritize the ability to play in the slot, operate zone concepts, and impact the run game at a high level. Williams checks all those boxes.

Williams has been a little dinged up throughout his career, but he’s missed more than three games in a season just once in his NFL career and is one of the more talented options available.

Calais Campbell, IDL

The Broncos need to find someone who is adept at both defending the run and pressuring the passer that they can play next to D.J. Jones and Dre’Mont Jones, and Campbell could be an excellent fit if he’s willing to take a hometown discount to chase a ring.

Campbell is on the decline, but with a limited snap count he could still help fill Denver’s void along the defensive line.

Billy Turner, OT

If the Broncos look to provide Calvin Anderson with some mid-level competition, Turner could be a sensible option to keep an eye on. Like Anderson, he’s an excellent depth piece on the line that has some starting potential, but unlike Anderson, he has some familiarity working with Nathaniel Hackett, as he comes from the Packers.

Lorenzo Carter, EDGE

Although he hasn’t been a very successful pass-rusher, Carter is still an option the Broncos should consider, in order to fill out their room at edge. He’s a high-end athlete who would be an excellent scheme fit and shows the ability to drop in coverage.

He’s also an excellent run defender, and while his ability to affect the passer leaves much to be desired, he’s still better in that regard than Malik Reed.

Zach Kerr, IDL

Another less-than-flashy, but potentially valuable, addition Denver could target is Zach Kerr. With the Joneses, the Broncos have two starting spots solidified, and two intriguing depth options with McTelvin Agim and DeShawn Williams.

That said, Agim and Williams aren’t the best run defenders, so adding a body like Kerr, who specializes in defending the run, could be intriguing.

Chris Harris Jr., NCB

Harris’ superstar days are well behind him, but he’s still a solid option for pass coverage in the slot.

Ultimately, this would be more of a sentimental depth move, but if Harris is interested in filling that more limited role for a limited price, he could make a lot of sense.

Carlos Dunlap, EDGE

In a conversation with Nick Kendell of Mile High Huddle, he brought up another former star whose best days are behind him, that could help the Broncos at a position of need, in Carlos Dunlap.

Despite not making many headlines in recent years, he’s continued to be highly productive, as he hasn’t registered fewer than six sacks since 2011. He would also bring a much-needed veteran presence to a young, unproven edge-rushing room.

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