Add one more name to the list of players General Manager John Elway drafted, only to see them sign their second contract with another team—safety Rahim Moore. Following a visit, Moore has signed a three-year, $12M deal with the Houston Texans, according to several NFL sources.
Moore was part of Elway’s maiden draft class of 2011. His pick was introduced by Denver Broncos Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe. In four years, Moore intercepted just 8 passes, although his career high came last season, when he picked off 4 balls.
Moore’s defection marks the third Elway draft pick to sign elsewhere, following their rookie contract. Nate Irving is also an unrestricted free agent and if he can find a landing place that promises him a starting job, he’s as good as gone, too.
So far, the only Elway draft pick to be re-signed by the Broncos is tight end Virgil Green. The Broncos cap situation, going into the new league year, wasn’t ideal, but it was far from terrible. The team entered free agency with around $19M in salary cap space, and other than re-signing linebacker Steven Johnson and long-snapper Aaron Brewer and tendering restricted free agent cornerback Tony Carter, Elway has been quiet in the market thus far.
Tight end Owen Daniels is a solid addition to the team but with glaring holes on the offense line, at safety and on the defensive line, fans are left wondering what’s holding Elway back from pulling the trigger and getting creative in the market.
Some have speculated that although the Broncos have some salary cap space, beyond what they must budget for their upcoming draft class, the team is lacking cash to pay out on up-front signing bonuses. Whether there’s truth to that notion, I can’t say for sure. But Elway spent a lot of money this time last year and it stands to reason that the team could be tapped in the cash department.
Fans want to understand why Elway doesn't seem to value the very players he plucked out of the collegiate talent pool. It's a question that if I'm honest, I don't readily know the answer to, I can only speculate. One factor could simply be that the Broncos remarkable success over the last four years and their elevated profile within the media and NFL circles, has created an inflated value on Elway's former draft picks.
Elway likely knows their value and doesn't deem what the market will pay for their services to be reasonable. Perhaps he is the savvy one and knows something the rest of the league does not. After all, he ponied up for Green, even going so far as to battle competing teams in the market. And let's remember, Elway extended Chris Harris, Jr. last fall. Although he wasn't drafted, Elway signed him as a college free agent in 2011. The team cultivated Harris' talents over four years and his production ultimately justified his cost in Elway's eyes.
Despite the questions at the Broncos positions of need, fans should understand that in no way is the Broncos cupboard bare. They sent ten players to the Pro Bowl last season and only one of them (Julius Thomas) won’t be on the roster in 2015.
One way or another, financial ramifications are likely the reason for Elway’s inactivity in the market. However, he’s set his sights on second and third-tier free agents, like Vance Walker (whom the Broncos signed today), Darian Stewart and Shelley Smith, who all would solidify depth at the team’s positions of need.
Remember, the Broncos could have as many as ten draft selections in the upcoming draft, when compensatory picks are factored in. John Fox might have been reticent to lean on rookie contributors, but Gary Kubiak might not have a choice.
Remember this, Broncos Country?
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