Brock Osweiler among Denver’s biggest free agent decisions

Sam Monson previews the free agency period for the Broncos, including the impending decision about QB Brock Osweiler.

| 1 year ago
(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

Brock Osweiler among Denver’s biggest free agent decisions

The Denver Broncos roll into the NFL offseason with the Lombardi Trophy in hand, and while that signals a job well done for one year, it means little going forward. They now have a roster to re-assemble, and it begins with free agency—retaining their players, allowing free agents to walk, and maybe setting their sights on some new blood to join the team.

With that in mind, let’s preview the approaching free agency period through the lens of the Denver Broncos’ front office.


OLB Von Miller

Denver’s biggest issue is where to spend the money. They have multiple impending free agents in key positions, the most important of which is edge rusher Von Miller. Miller is the one player the Broncos must lock down to a new deal, and they may have to use the franchise tag in order to buy time to do it. Miller ended the season on an absolute tear, averaging 7.5 total pressures over his final four games, including the Super Bowl, where he was the game’s MVP. He will be looking for a contract that makes him the league’s highest-earning defensive player, and that puts the team immediately in a cap squeeze.

QB Brock Osweiler

If Miller was their only free agent, Denver would be fine, but they have several other key players hitting the market, and there simply isn’t enough money to go around given the contracts some of them will be chasing, even with the potential to open up significant cap space with a Peyton Manning retirement and another move or two. If Manning does walk off into the sunset, then retaining Brock Osweiler becomes crucial, even if his upside is still to be determined.

DE Malik Jackson

That leaves Denver with limited funds to make a run at retaining Malik Jackson, who will be looking for big-money after multiple fine seasons inside. Jackson is the priority here, but if the team can’t lock him down, then plan B might be to try and keep Danny Trevathan instead at LB.

Let walk

DE Antonio Smith

Antonio Smith was brought in as a career specialist in inside pass-rush. He has never played the run well, but always generated consistent pressure. This was the first season since 2008 that he did not have a PFF cumulative pass-rushing grade in double-digit positives, and just 34 total pressures over his snaps this season were less than the team likely expected. Given the cost to retain him and the depth of the Broncos’ defensive roster, he is an obvious casualty.

TE Vernon Davis

The other player to jettison is TE Vernon Davis. Davis came to Denver in a mid-season trade with the 49ers, but did little to suggest he would be worth bringing back after the Super Bowl. He caught 20-of-27 passes thrown his way as a Bronco, but had the fewest average yards-per-catch of the three Broncos’ TEs and dropped two of the incompletions.


DE Jason Jones

Denver’s issue is too many players and not enough money, so they are likely to be a net loser in free agency. If they can’t retain some of their own players because of financial restrictions, they are likely shopping at the bargain bin if they bring in anybody. A player like Jason Jones could fill the specialist pass-rusher role that Antonio Smith had, and be a productive part of the rotation. Mis-cast as an end for much of his career, he enjoyed his best season as a pro inside as a 4-3 DT, notching 40 total pressures and three batted passes that season in just 678 snaps.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN and NBCSports.

  • dlund6cutler

    What about Danny Trevathan?

    • Merlin Veltman

      “plan B might be to try and keep Danny Trevathan instead”

      • dlund6cutler

        My Bad guess I didn’t read it that well.

  • Adrian Brody’s O face

    I’m 99% certain Jackson is suiting up for another team next season. The Broncos tried to negotiate an extension with him before the end of the season and he turned their offer down. They have tried negotiating since the conclusion of the superbowl but reports put the two camps far apart on a number. Someone is going to meet Jackson’s contract demands, and it will not be Denver.

    • RandomGuy


  • Vitor

    My predictions

    Out: Jackson, Trevathan, Manning (retire), V.Davis, Caldwell, R.Harris, McCray, Polumbus, Smith, Hillman and Colquitt (cut).

    Re-sign: Mathis (last year) , Miller (FT), Marshall, Norwood, Fowler, Anderson, Paradis, McManus, T.Davis, Bruton, Bolden and Osweiler.

    Pay cut: Clady and Ware.

    • Thomas Bell

      I agree with your outs. But a bit optimistic on the re-signs. Last season it seemed reasonable to keep guys like Irving and Tamme around and they weren’t even given a small offer. For the same reason — young, cheap bodies — Mathis, Bolden, Norwood and T. Davis are likely gone. We’ve never seen Elway retain so many of his own veterans. Who go resigned last season other than DT and V Green? (Bruton is this season’s VG)

    • Lane Trujillo

      I agree with most of that. I think if Jackson gets away which I’m actually okay with at anything more than $10m a season then we will keep Travathon and Bruton maybe even Bolden.

    • Lane Trujillo

      And as I type that last comment news drops that the Broncos will let Travathan test the free agency waters.