There is no question when watching the 2016 Denver Broncos that their offensive line was a big issue. They struggled to create running lanes for the ball-carriers and had their issues in the protecting in the passing game. This has been a concern of the Broncos front office for a while, and they have been talking internally about how to fix that.
With quickness and confidence, fixing the offensive line through the upcoming Draft was shot down. This is an extremely weak class for offensive linemen, with many of them being projects.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1759036-report-vance-joseph-wants... A Ryan Ramczyk or Forrest Lamp would be a nice addition, and sit as the top-two O-line prospects for many scouts in and around the NFL. Then you have guys like Cam Robinson, Garett Bolles, Dan Feeney, Dorian Johnson, Antonio Garcia, Dion Dawkins and a few others who vary on boards, depending on who you ask.
All sources that I have talked to, not just with the Broncos, make it sound like the O-line group detailed above are lower on boards than some public drafniks make them out to be.
So, fixing the O-line through the Draft was shot down internally at Dove Valley. They will look to add an offensive lineman, or two, in the draft, but for depth — not as a starter. That leaves one way to fix the offensive line. Free agency.
For some time, we at Mile High Huddle have talked about the Broncos plans in free agency. Not too long ago, it was reported that Denver is looking to add three immediate starters on the offensive line in free agency. We had some ideas on who, but now a source close to the situation has named their three top priority offensive linemen the Broncos will target.
Formerly of the Green Bay Packers, Lang is at the top of their list. They hope to draw the veteran guard out of the north and up to a Mile High. Lang would be plugged in at right guard, and immediately improve the spot and run game.
One source in the NFL stated that the Broncos are the early favorites for his services. Early today, Cecil Lammey of 104.3 the fan tweeted out the following.
This helps corroborate what we at MHH have been told about the Broncos pursuit of Lang, though Lammey doesn’t say that the Broncos seem to be the favorites.
Formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals, Whitworth has been linked to Denver by MHH and many others. A source confirmed earlier that the Broncos will try and draw him away to play for a contender.
Whitworth is highly regarded by the Broncos because he is willing to help younger players grow and develop and often passes down words of advice, even though they may eventually take his drop. This is well-known by the Broncos, and it bolstered their interest in Whitworth.
Cincinnati is reportedly working to re-sign Whitworth, but if he's allowed to hit the market, Denver will pursue him aggressively. And early.
Sign him and potentially draft his replacement. And then Whitworth mentors him? That is very likely part of their ideal plan.
Formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, Wagner is the third offensive linemen that our source mentioned today. Wagner has a lot of interest around the NFL, which likely raises his price.
However, the Broncos have a hair under $43.4 million in cap space, and are experts at managing the cap. They have come out to play when it comes to fixing their offensive line. Still, they won’t overpay. Of course, they have a plan up their sleeve to try and help mitigate the cost of free agent additions.
After the blowout defeat in Super Bowl XLVIII to the Seattle Seahawks, the Broncos set about to fix their defense. This is a pretty similar situation, though with the offensive line and sans a blowout Super Bowl loss.
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When the Broncos went about bolstering the defense, they ended up getting T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib and DeMarcus Ware. Talib and Ware flew to Denver on the same flight. This made both players realize that they are serious about contending.
Once again, Denver's plan is to sell how serious they are about contending. Though they may not get all three of their free agent O-line targets on the same flight, it is their plan to try and get all three at Dove Valley at the same time, per our source close to the situation.
Nothing says we want to win more than putting three fierce competitors in the same room, and their hope is they will see what the goal is, just like Talib and Ware saw just a few years ago.
Of course, when free agency starts all sorts of things can happen. Right now, their plan is those three guys. Whatever happens, they will be putting work into their offensive line to protect Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, or very likely Tony Romo.
John Elway has money, and cap space. Free agency is going to be fun this year, so stay tuned.
Erick Trickel is the Senior Draft Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ErickTrickel.