According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, the new coaching administration of the Denver Broncos want tight end Virgil Green back with the team in 2015 and beyond. Green, a seventh round pick out of Nevada in John Elway’s maiden 2011 draft class, is set to become an unrestricted free agent.
Although Green only has 23 receptions in his four-year career, he is arguably more valuable to the Broncos and their destiny as a team, than Julius Thomas – a player with back-to-back 12 touchdown seasons (’13 and ’14). Both players are set to hit the free agent market, but Green presents more value to the team because of his prowess as a blocker.
In 2014, when Green was on the field, the Broncos ran the ball with authority. He’s a tenacious blocker with a high motor and mean streak. But if anything, the team has under-utilized him in the passing game. He has rare athleticism and made a lot of plays in college.
But with Thomas setting records catching passes from Peyton Manning, it relegated Green to the 12-personnel and jumbo teams. However, he’s capable of much more. Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison apparently recognize that. Green can set the edge and get to the second level blocking in the run game, and could be a threat down-field in the passing game, with his under-appreciated athleticism and hands.
Thomas, on the other hand, is a one-trick pony who can’t block to save his life. Some call him soft, but in my opinion, if you have the stones to suit up and play football at the NFL level, you’re anything but soft. He lacks effort – true. His technique is terrible. But soft? No.
It’s also worth noting that Thomas has an extensive injury jacket. He missed the first two seasons of his career with the Broncos and hasn’t played a full 16 games ever. Green is much more durable. Thomas is valuable. He can make plays in the passing game that Green cannot, but as a complete package, especially in Kubiak’s offense, Green emerges as the more valuable player.
Thomas is looking for top dollar on the market. Green can be retained for a small raise and a show of confidence. Don’t be surprised to see Thomas playing in another uniform in 2015, especially with Demaryius Thomas’ new contract likely to consume $12-14M of the Broncos projected $37M in available salary cap space.
Klis also mentions that Will Montgomery factors into the Broncos free agent plans. He performed well, taking over for Manuel Ramirez at center mid-season. And he has experience playing in the zone blocking scheme.
Jeff Legwold of ESPN Denver recently reported that the Broncos are looking for three new starters on the offensive line, and that could still be true, but it sounds like they like Montgomery, at the very least, as a depth option.
More likely is that Montgomery will end up returning as Peyton Manning’s center. Provided Manning does return, he craves continuity and with the amount of upheaval that has taken place in Denver since their bitter loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, giving their signal caller his trusty center back is the least they could do.