"I feel more comfortable if we can take care of some needs in free agency," Elway said from the NFL Combine. "We’re always looking for value in free agency, which is sometimes hard to do. But I think we can supplement some needs that we have through free agency because i don’t like going into the draft with big needs. If we go into the draft [with needs], you have a tendency to reach and we try to stay out of that situation."
On the first two days of free agency, Elway plugged some holes on the offensive line, signing tier-one guard Ronald Leary and tackle Menelik Watson. On Saturday, day three of free agency, the Broncos bolstered the defensive line, signing Domata Peko and Zach Kerr.
Through three days, Elway's Broncos have not only been able to fill some needs, but also — with the exception of Leary — find great value on the free agent market. That's not to say Leary isn't worth the four-year, $35 million contract he signed. But rather, that he was a top free agent and the Broncos got what they paid for.
Domata Peko is heading into his 12th year in the league. A fourth round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals back in 2006, Peko has built a respectable career in the NFL.
Next to Geno Atkins, Peko became one of the top run-stuffing defensive tackles in the NFL. Peko can play the 0-technique, or the 3-technique. In Denver, they'll likely play him at nose tackle and defensive end, due to his size and versatility.
Peko checks in at 6-foot-3, 325 pounds. He started 16 games for the Bengals in 2016 and brings more than a decade of experience to Denver. At 32 years old, he's a little long in the tooth.
But Denver signed him to a two-year, $7.5 million deal with $3.8 million guaranteed, according to the Denver Post's Nicky Jhabvala. If Peko can stay healthy, the Broncos got great value.
He's started a lot of games in this league. I'm not worried about Peko's durability.
Zach Kerr went undrafted out of Delaware in 2014, but was signed as a college free agent by the Indianapolis Colts. Kerr battled as a rookie, and managed to make the final roster and debut in his first regular season game vs. the Broncos in Week 1.
Since then, Kerr has gone on to appear in 36 games for the Colts. He started four games in 2016, tallying 19 total tackles and 2.5 sacks.
At 6-foot-2, 334 pounds, Kerr can step in at 5-tech defensive end for the Broncos — the position he's played in the Colts 3-4 system for the last three years. He can stuff the run, and is looking for a chance to start.
Kerr is only 26 years old. The Broncos got him also on a two-year deal. At this time, it's unknown what the value of the contract he signed in Denver is. But you can bet it didn't break the bank.
We had heard that the Broncos were working on a couple of D-line contracts today. We'd been told that one of them was Johnathan Hankins but Elway pulled an end-around and signed two under-the-radar guys who upgrade Denver's D-line and provide solid depth.
The Broncos are much better positioned to stop the run in 2017. And they have no glaring needs in the trenches — with the exception of left tackle — which should mitigate Elway's urge to reach on Draft Day.
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Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.