Snaps Lost: Denver Broncos
The “Snaps Lost” series is a detailed look at the playing time void created by players that have left each team this offseason, whether they were traded, cut, left in free agency, or retired.
Because each unit plays a different number of snaps over the course of the year, we have created the “Full Time Equivalent” metric. FTE is the total number of missing snaps divided by the number of plays the team ran on that side of the ball. This is an equivalent measure of how many full time players (100% snap count) the team would need to add on to make up for their offseason losses, even though very few players actually play a full snap count.
For example, if a team had 1,100 snaps on offense and then lost seven players who combined to play 2,200 snaps, their FTE would be 2.0 (2,200/1,100). This ensures that a team who lost a high volume of players only has a high FTE if those players racked up some significant playing time. FTE can only fall between zero (no players left the team) and 11 (fire everyone!) for each side of the ball.
Each team will have a ranking following their FTE, with the first-ranked team in each category (offense, defense, and total) representing the team with the smallest portion of their playing time in need of replacement.
A few caveats before getting into the good stuff:
-Suspensions and injuries that may limit 2015 snap counts are not considered.
-Biggest Losses are purely in terms of snap count, not necessarily in terms of impact.
-All snap counts are Regular Season only.
Overall FTE Lost: 6.56, 25th
FTE Lost: 4.26, 30th
Biggest Losses: Manuel Ramirez (1,156), Orlando Franklin (1,123), Wes Welker (760), Julius Thomas (715), Will Montgomery (593)
Summary – The offensive exodus hits particularly hard on the line, where Franklin took a nice paycheck to play in San Diego while Ramirez was part of a draft day trade to the Lions. Montgomery came on strong when he became a starter in Week 10 and took a one-year deal to start in Chicago. Welker’s production took a precipitous drop after leaving New England so losing him won’t mean the end of the world. Thomas’ raw stats have never aligned with our grading and his injury history was concerning, so the Broncos elected to let him walk. While not part of our FTE calculation, the loss of Ryan Clady to a torn ACL vacates another 1,084 snaps and leaves Denver with over 6,000 offensive snaps to replace in 2015, by far the highest in the league.
Replacement Plan – Four spots are in need of replacement along the offensive line, so it’s all hands on deck. At present, Chris Clark will slot back in at right tackle after seeing respectable time there last year. Clady’s replacement on the other side will be either Ryan Harris, signed from Kansas City, or second-round pick Ty Sambrailo. On the interior, Gino Gradkowski is set to start at center with former Ram and Dolphin Shelley Smith to his left. At the skill positions, Virgil Green should see his snap count rise and Owen Daniels, a longtime favorite of new coach Gary Kubiak, should figure prominently in the offense. Either of them could eat into Welker’s snaps as well if the team favors more run-heavy packages this year. If not, it’s up to either Andre Caldwell or second-year man Cody Latimer to increase their 2014 snap count, as they combined for 222 snaps a year ago.
FTE Lost: 2.30, 11th
Biggest Losses: Rahim Moore (1,074), Terrance Knighton (528), Nate Irving (353)
Summary – Things are quite a bit better on the defensive side of the ball. Moore is the only full time starter to leave, joining the Texans on a three-year deal. Knighton and his run-stuffing ability joined the Redskins on a one-year prove-it deal, leaving a quite massive hole in the interior of the line. Irving wasn’t the most integral part of the Denver defense, playing 60% of the team’s snaps prior to tearing his ACL in Week 9, but they will have to have someone to fill in at linebacker next to Brandon Marshall.
Replacement Plan – Free agent safety Darian Stewart should lock up the starting spot opposite T.J. Ward and while he might be a slight downgrade from Moore, the rest of the secondary is good enough that it shouldn’t affect the defense much. Knighton’s loss should mean more time for 2013 first-round pick Sylvester Williams and a few others as the team added Vance Walker and Antonio Smith this offseason. Irving’s loss can be negated if Danny Trevathan recovers from his knee injury and will likely be a nonfactor.