Despite Their Free Agent Losses, The Denver Broncos Are Still The Team To Beat

Even without a proven QB, the Broncos are still the team to beat in the AFC West.

One month ago, nobody would have guessed that the Denver Broncos would open up the new league year without either of their top two quarterbacks from their Super Bowl Championship season.

Peyton Manning hung up his cleats, and rode off into the sunset. Brock Osweiler, still smarting over being benched for Manning in Week 17, chose to put Denver in his rearview and signed with the Houston Texans for seven million more guaranteed dollars. 

John Elway, ever the shrewd front office capitalist, wasn't going to give up the farm for a quarterback who has only started seven games in his four-year career. Even the $30 million guaranteed he offered Osweiler might have been pushing it.

“We’ve stayed true to our philosophy of building a team with players who want to be Denver Broncos and want to be here. That’s been a successful approach for us," Elway said.

"While we did offer a very competitive and fair long-term contract to Brock, we ultimately had to remain disciplined while continuing to assemble a roster that can compete for championships.

“We’ve now turned our attention to other options at quarterback and are confident that we’ll find the right player and person for our team. Our organization thanks Brock for his contributions and wishes him all the best.”

Even going beyond the quarterback situation, the Broncos lost DE Malik Jackson and ILB Danny Trevathan — two key cogs from their championship defense. The Broncos also released three veterans — RG Louis Vasquez, TE Owen Daniels and LS Aaron Brewer.

There's even a chance they could lose RB C.J. Anderson, if a competing team makes him an offer the Broncos aren't willing to match. It feels like a fire sale in Denver. 

But, don't worry about it. 

Even if the Broncos go into 2016 with Trevor Siemian and a rookie at quarterback, they'll still be the team to beat in the AFC West. Why? Because of that defense. 

Wade Phillips isn't going anywhere, neither are Von MillerDeMarcus Ware, or Derek Wolfe. Denver is working on restructuring with Ware and both parties want to get something done.

The Broncos will still field a top-5 defense, which will keep them in each and every game in 2016. 

It's all about the pass rush. The Broncos have it. And if your secondary is as stacked and talented as the Broncos' "No Fly Zone" are, it only bolsters what the front seven are able to do. 

John Elway will find a quarterback. If it happens to be Siemian, there are worse things. The former Northwestern product showed great promise during last year's preseason action. 

After all, the Broncos won the Super Bowl with a QB duo with a combined regular season rating of 77.1. Combine Peyton and Brock's QBR and that's what you get — good enough for 56th-best in the NFL. 

As long as Siemian, or Colin Kaepernick, or Robert Griffin III, or whomever the Broncos have at QB can do better than that, they might even be a better team in 2016. 

Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.

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