2017 Free Agency Preview: Denver Broncos

Top free agent targets for the Denver Broncos, players that must be re-signed, team cap space, and more to get you ready for 2017 free agency.

| 3 months ago
(Rob Leiter/Getty Images)

(Rob Leiter/Getty Images)

2017 Free Agency Preview: Denver Broncos

[Editor’s note: This preview was originally published on Feb. 28, 2017, and updated on March 6 to reflect changes in the market do to franchise tags, re-signings, cuts, etc.]

What you need to know

The Broncos have more than enough cap room to make a “splash” signing, but the question on everyone’s mind is whether that comes at the quarterback position. It’s going to be difficult to get back to the playoffs if that position doesn’t improve from its 2016 form.

Salary cap room

$42,105,799 (10th in NFL; as of 3/6/2017)

Biggest needs

  • Right tackle
  • Defensive tackle
  • Tight end
  • Quarterback

Notable free agents

  • DeMarcus Ware, Edge, 77.4 overall grade in 2016
  • Todd Davis, LB, 76.0
  • Sylvester Williams, DI, 43.5

Must re-sign

Todd Davis, LB, 76.0 overall grade in 2016

Losing Davis would turn the second linebacker position into a revolving door for the Broncos after losing Danny Trevathan a season ago. It’s not a premium position, but they won’t have to pay a premium price to get Davis back.

Dream splash

Ricky Wagner, T, Baltimore Ravens, 84.5

The right tackle was a complete nightmare in 2016 after the Broncos tried to get a bargain signing Chiefs right tackle Donald Stephenson. It backfired, as Stephenson would finish as the lowest-graded tackle in the NFL. Wagner has multiple seasons of top-level play and would easily shore up the position in Denver.

Top 2017 free agency prospects

Marshall Newhouse, T, New York Giants, 69.4

The free agency market for tackles in incredibly thin. After Ricky Wagner and Andrew Whitworth, there may not be a capable starter in the bunch. Even someone like Newhouse who’s been a career backup-level player could be an upgrade though from the worst right tackle in the league.

Brandon Williams, DI, Baltimore Ravens, 75.9

The biggest difference between the 2015 and 2016 Broncos defenses was the interior of their defensive line. Stopping the run was an afterthought for Denver on their Super Bowl run, but last year teams routinely moved the ball with ease on the ground. Williams has been one of the top nose tackles in the league for the past three seasons.

Matt Barkley, QB, Chicago Bears, 73.8

Barkley is an interesting name to watch this offseason. Once heralded as a possible No. 1 overall pick, a shoulder injury dropped him significantly in the minds of many. That zip seemed to be back last season in Chicago though as he had a handful of impressive performances down the stretch.

Mike Glennon, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 69.0 on 15 snaps

The Broncos simply need to throw some more darts at the quarterback position and see what sticks. Glennon was once a somewhat promising rookie who got tossed aside with the allure of Jameis Winston as the No. 1 overall pick. He could easily be an improvement from Trevor Siemian.

2017 Free Agency Rankings
Top 50 free agents
Every 2017 free agent ranked by 2016 overall grade
10 free agents who can make an immediate impact
10 veteran free agents worth a one-year contract
10 sleeper free agents who could bring surprise upside
10 splash free-agent signings we’d like to see
Quarterback rankings
Running back rankings
Wide receiver rankings
Tight end rankings
Offensive linemen rankings
Edge defender rankings
Interior defender rankings
Cornerback rankings
Safety rankings
Linebacker rankings

2017 NFL Team Free Agency Previews

NFC EastDallas Cowboys
NFC EastNew York Giants
NFC EastPhiladelphia Eagles
NFC EastWashington Redskins
AFC EastBuffalo Bills
AFC EastMiami Dolphins
AFC EastNew England Patriots
AFC EastNew York Jets
NFC WestArizona Cardinals
NFC WestLos Angeles Rams
NFC WestSan Francisco 49ers
NFC WestSeattle Seahawks
AFC WestDenver Broncos
AFC WestKansas City Chiefs
AFC WestLos Angeles Chargers
AFC WestOakland Raiders
NFC NorthChicago Bears
NFC NorthDetroit Lions
NFC NorthGreen Bay Packers
NFC NorthMinnesota Vikings
AFC NorthBaltimore Ravens
AFC NorthCincinnati Bengals
AFC NorthCleveland Browns
AFC NorthPittsburgh Steelers
NFC SouthAtlanta Falcons
NFC SouthCarolina Panthers
NFC SouthNew Orleans Saints
NFC SouthTampa Bay Buccaneers
AFC SouthHouston Texans
AFC SouthIndianapolis Colts
AFC SouthJacksonville Jaguars
AFC SouthTennessee Titans

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • aaronbeach

    Biggest need QB? Compare your own ratings on the Denver QBs in 2015 to 2016 – was that really what changed?

    The OL fell apart and the DL required more blitz to achieve the same level of pressure exposing themselves to the run game.

    Fixing the OL and getting an interior pass rusher (Calais Campbell) are the top needs. QB is probably 4th or 5th on the list (and remember they did spend a first round pick on QB last year).

    • crosseyedlemon

      Pretty much agree. If the Broncos were truly desperate at QB they would have Romo and Cutler on the speed dial.

    • anon76returns

      Campbell would be a dream (and a Colorado product to boot), but doubt AZ let’s him go, and doubt it would be a wise move for the Broncos to spend market rate on him. Better to get value signings- guys that have been cut or had down years which will suppress their market rate, but who could still be potentially solid players. I think Wagner from Baltimore and Vollmer from NE (once he’s cut) will be the ones to watch at OT, and Williams from Baltimore and maybe Poe from KC will be ones to watch for the DI spots. I would also see what craziness happens with Sheldon Richardson in NY- if they’re silly enough to cut him, that would be a good signing for the Broncos, better than Campbell given the age.

      • aaronbeach

        poe/williams would fill our NT. I love williams but don’t think we need to spend money at NT. Richardson is a bit of a gamble – not to overvalue locker-room presence but Campbell obviously has the edge there.

  • anon76returns

    Missing a couple of things here, PFF. First off, Todd Davis is not a UFA, he’s an RFA, so not really likely to hit the open market (I imagine a 2nd round tender of ~$2.5M would be sufficient). 2nd of all, as others mentioned, QB is not really a priority no matter how much you hate Trevore Siemian. I still don’t get how you guys are so down on him after his (essentially) rookie year. You gave him a better grade after his first season as a starter than you gave Derek Carr- should the Raiders also have QB as a need?
    Finally, at least equally significant to having Sylvester Williams as a free agent, the Broncos also have Vance Walker as a FA- re-signing him could partially fill the hole they have at DI at a very cheap salary and without offsetting any potential compensatory picks they might get for Okung/Williams/Webster.

    • AJ

      2nd round for Davis? You may be right, but that seems a bit high.

      I think part of the reason for their take on Siemian goes a bit deeper than the grade. He’s struggled with deep accuracy and has clear limitations with arm strength, both of which Carr showed flashes of doing well (Carr’s mistakes from rookie year were seen as things that are correctable with experience, which turned out to be right given how Carr has turned out). Siemian’s ceiling is a bit clearer than Carr’s after one season. A QB of Romo’s caliber instantly makes this roster a Super Bowl contender again, though Romo’s best years have come when he’s had complementary pieces on offense better than what Denver has. They need to fix the o-line and run game.

      I think, worst-case scenario, Siemian has a career ahead of him as a good backup, low-end starter, which can lead to a very nice and long career.

      Fully agree on Vance Walker. If he played this season instead of Jared Crick, the run defense would not have been nearly as bad. He could be signed (either by Denver or anybody else) for pretty cheap to shore up a run defense.

      • anon76returns

        Hmm. Maybe. I didn’t see much of a lack of accuracy in his deep game, though- neither last season nor in the ~8 college games of his that I watched. The only team that I remember that dared Siemian to throw deep last year was the Bengals, and they certainly paid a price for it.