Projected Lineups: Denver Broncos
Steamrolling into the Super Bowl only to get throttled from the opening play, the Denver Broncos left some business unfinished.
With a top-to-bottom roster that was less polished than that of their title-game foes to begin with, possible free agent losses could drag them down still another peg if they aren’t able to secure or supplement those spots.
Their offensive leader isn’t getting any younger and their defensive star has had trouble staying on the field so making the most of the rest of the lineup is key if they’re going to make a follow-up run.
Here’s where the Broncos stand, minus any UFAs, as the opening of the 2014 league calendar approaches:
– Player markers are colored per class on a five-step ‘Poor’ to ‘High Quality’ scale based on their overall performance and the league’s elite are marked separately in blue.
– Colored outlines suggest a potential change in class.
– Underlined players will be 30+ years old for the 2014 season.
– Red player names suggest injury risks.
– Click on the image to enlarge.
– Counting UFA Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie out of the lineup leave s a hole that will need addressing. There’s no telling how much longer Champ Bailey has in him and with RFA Chris Harris coming off an ACL tear in the playoffs, DRC certainly has some leverage, though the free agent CB class is a strong one and a more affordable option could be had.
– There’s a lot of green along the O-line save for the left guard spot held down by Zane Beadles for most of the past four seasons. With Beadles a free agent (and turning in subpar grades in 2013 anyway), targeting a filler there would be a finishing touch to an already excellent unit.
– That red circle sticks out like a sore thumb and will be a spot free agent receivers around the league will be lining up to get a crack at. Who wouldn’t want to jump in and become a part of Peyton’s passing party before he calls it a career?
– Von Miller’s multiple absences from the lineup hammered home the need for an improved supporting cast in the pass rush department. In two years of trying, Derek Wolfe has done nothing but prove himself unfit for the job, though Malik Jackson and Terrance Knighton each showed some get-upfield ability.
2014 Cap Situation
A $16.4M cap space figure (per overthecap.com) has Denver in the middle of the pack as far as spending ability goes, but their areas of need are going to require them looking at some of the priciest positions out there, so what they have will go fast. There is, however, some opportunity for them to create a bit of additional space…
The $10M owed to Bailey in 2014 has to be first on the mind of the Bronco brass as the chance for gain is obvious. The aging vet can still play, but working out some sort of cut to help the team in what may be his final run seems likely. Likewise, the $8M set for Welker could come down and the redundant duo of Dreessen and Tamme would get back $2.5 or $3M, respectively, if one is let go. Additionally, Chris Kuper, despite Beadles’ possible departure ahead of him on the depth chart, is another screaming for a pay cut if not a release. Logging just 108 snaps in 2013 — and just 410 in a 2012 that ended with him being taken to task in the divisional playoff loss to Baltimore — he represents a savings of over $4M.
Opportunities from the Roster
Rookie corner Kayvon Webster held his own for a stretch in the middle of the season before falling off late. On a roster staring at the potential of going off a cliff at the position, he could turn out to be important young help. Malik Jackson was mentioned above, but him coming into his own as a pass rusher would help the front office breathe a lot easier – cheap pressure is the best kind. Could Chris Clark take on an inside spot? Playing in place of Ryan Clady at left tackle for most of the season, Clark put up a +16.8 overall grade in the first extended playing time of his six-year career; ranking him among the top half of the league’s left tackles for the year. We’ve seen some entrenched tackles slide inside when needed, perhaps there’s a left guard solution in-house.
Projected lineups by team:
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