This offseason, the Broncos lost a combined 31 years of experience playing in orange and blue across all their departures.
With that many memories walking out the door, some of the moves are bound to hurt a bit as you’re forced to see the players you would cheer for on Sunday don the colors of your rivals. Here are the three most painful losses for Broncos Country.
3. Chris Harris Jr.
With the departure of Chris Harris Jr., the Broncos lost the last remaining member of the No Fly Zone to their division rival, the Chargers, officially ending an era in Denver sports. That hurts without question, but on the field, the Broncos won’t miss him too much if he plays how he did in the second half of last season.
As the season wore on, it became more and more apparent that Harris couldn’t hang with speedy receivers the same way he used to and teams consistently attacked it. Harris’ poor coverage on Stefon Diggs in Week 11 led to the Vikings coming back for the win, as the now Buffalo-bound receiver hauled in five passes for 121 yards and a touchdown.
Diggs was far from the only receiver to bully the former shutdown corner in 2019, and once cornerbacks start to lose their legs, they rarely bounce back. The Chargers’ moving of Harris Jr. to the slot might help a potential rebirth of his career, but that doesn’t seem too likely.
2. Derek Wolfe
The Broncos made the right move by letting Derek Wolfe go, as it allowed them to bring in Jurrell Casey and re-sign Shelby Harris for a surprising bargain. That being said, like losing Harris Jr., losing Wolfe means losing a fan-favorite and an important leader in the locker room.
Denver is much more likely to miss Wolfe on the field though, as opposed to Harris Jr.
He’s coming off a career year that saw him accumulate seven sacks, the most he’s ever had in a single season, in just 12 games. Injuries are a concern with Wolfe, as he’s missed at least one game due to injury in four of the past five seasons, and now that he’s on the wrong side of 30, that concern hasn’t been lessened.
That might explain why Wolfe had to settle for a contract that only paid out $6 million this season, despite saying that $9 million deal was his floor and his incredible production in 2019.
1. Connor McGovern
No, Connor McGovern isn’t a long-time Bronco or a fan favorite, but his departure will have a much greater impact on how the team performs on Sundays than any other.
The Broncos offensive line is a work-in-progress and has been, seemingly, forever. They’ve already replaced Ronald Leary with Graham Glasgow, would like to replace Garett Bolles with a better left tackle, and now, on top of that, they have a complete unknown in the center of their offensive line.
Mike Munchak has put his faith in Patrick Morris as the starting center, which should instill confidence in Broncos fans considering the offensive line coach’s pedigree, but McGovern was one of the few bright spots in the trenches last season. Now, in his place is an untested, unproven center who was an afterthought this time last season.