The Denver Broncos addressed their offensive line woes in the first two days of free agency, signing guard Ronald Leary and tackle Menelik Watson. But the team has not made any moves yet to bolster the defensive trenches.
Sylvester Williams tested the market and found a three-year deal in Tennessee worth more than what Denver was willing to pay. After finishing 28th against the run in 2016, the biggest reason for Denver missing the playoffs — I submit — were their deficiencies in the front seven — specifically the defensive line.
GM John Elway and the Broncos need to get busy and there are several value players available on the market. Let's touch on the top options.
The Broncos have spoken with the Jets about Sheldon Richardson, who would be an answer opposite of Derek Wolfe. That trade is still a possibility and could be why the Broncos have seemingly dragged their feet in free agency.
As good as Richardson is, he would come with a sizable cap hit of $8.069 million for 2017, and there are some off-the-field concerns. This is a deal that could be contingent on the Tony Romo situation.
Johnathan Hankins, DT, FA
Denver has shown an interest in the 6-foot-2, 320-pound Johnathan Hankins. Not exactly a pass-rushing artist, Hankins can stuff the run with the best of them.
And that's exactly what Denver needs. Hankins is an option, and could immediately upgrade Denver's rushing defense.
Dontari Poe, DT, FA
The Broncos have also kicked the tires on Dontari Poe. Poe hit unrestricted free agency expecting there to be a bigger market for his services.
But after a down year, Poe has been unable to find a team willing to pay him the $6 million per year he was looking for. This guy could solve many problems for the Broncos. Don't be surprised if Elway shaves a couple million off that figure and brings Poe to Denver.
Jared Odrick, DE, FA
Hankins and Poe would represent nose tackle options, but the Broncos need defensive end help too. Jared Odrick is still on the market.
Odrick likely hoped he'd find another team willing to over-pay him like Jacksonville did. Broncos D-line coach Bill Kollar likes Odrick, but it would depend on how much money Odrick's looking for.
Kendall Reyes, DE, FA
Kendell Reyes, former Chargers second round pick who also spent some time with Kansas City last year, could be a good option. Reyes can play defensive end and has familiarity in the division.
I was hopeful Denver could get Reyes last year, when he was available on the waiver wire. Unfortunately, Kansas City scooped him up.
Bennie Logan, DT, FA
And there's Bennie Logan, who was Philadelphia's third round pick in 2013, but he's scheduled to visit Washington on Saturday, which would keep him in the NFC East. Logan is a guy I've like dating back before free agency opened.
Logan projects more as a nose tackle, but he has the skill-set to play the 5-tech as well. I have a hard time seeing Washington letting him leave without a contract, alas.
Vance Walker, DE, FA
Let's not forget about Vance Walker, whom Elway signed to a two-year deal in 2015. Walker is coming off an ACL tear, so the Broncos will have to make sure he's recovered.
But Walker knows the system and can play nose or end. If he's healthy, I would expect the Broncos to bring him back.
The Draft is replete with options this year, but if Elway is looking for "value", the free agent market still offers some upgrades. Elway said it himself back in Indianapolis that the Broncos want to fill roster holes via free agency, to mitigate the urge to reach on Draft Day.
UPDATE: The Broncos signed two guys — Domata Peko and Zach Kerr — neither of whom were on our list. But they do fit the "value" approach that John Elway favors in free agency. These two guys might not be the sexiest of signings but they will stuff the run.
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Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.