Free agency only started on March 9 and the Denver Broncos have already addressed two of their big areas of focus. The trenches.
Immediately they addressed their offensive line with the guard from Dallas in Ronald Leary. He is incredibly talented and will be a loss the Cowboys will feel keenly. Leary brings attitude to an O-line that needs it.
Menelik Watson is another gifted tackle, if he can stay healthy. His attitude, athleticism and power can have him play anywhere on the line.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1762284-film-room-zach-kerr-s-dom... Then, the Broncos shifted focus to the defensive side of the trenches. They wanted to really fix their run defense and the guys they brought in help will do just that. Domata Peko, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals, is well known for his run defense and has been sought after because of it.
Peko is also durable, having started in all 16 games for 10 of his 11 seasons. Welcome news, after injuries decimated Denver's defensive line in 2016.
The team also brought in Zach Kerr from the Indianapolis Colts, who was a role player on their line. Kerr is a really good run defender, who is still growing as a player and a pass rusher. Peko will man the nose, and Kerr can play 5-tech or nose.
The Broncos are not done and could look to add to a few more areas still before the draft.
Tony Romo (Dallas)
Of course, this is at the top of the list. Tony Romo is GM John Elway's guy, despite what he may want you to believe with public statements. The Broncos are sitting and waiting for the Cowboys to release the veteran before making a big push to get him.
Elway knows that, along with the play from those in the trenches, the quarterback play held the team back in 2016 as well. Romo’s health is a concern, which is why the Broncos want him on a deal that protects the team in case of injury.
As things stand now, it seems likely that the Broncos land Romo, and when they do, look for them to move Trevor Siemian via trade almost immediately.
Veteran Running Back
The Broncos could look for a veteran running back that can be a change of pace type. They are missing that with C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker. Both Jamaal Charles and Chris Johnson are deemed as the change of pace type at this point of their career, but neither seem to have interest from Denver at this point.
Williams isn’t a change of pace type, but is a veteran tough guy that can bring an attitude to the running back stable that is seemingly missing. The most likely option here is Branden Oliver, formerly of the Chargers.
Oliver was a restricted free agent, whom the Chargers did not extend a tender on. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is formerly of the Chargers and found Oliver. McCoy likes Oliver and could push to get him, like he did for Danny Woodhead. The concern is Oliver’s health.
Oliver is the most likely choice here and his name has been floated around Dove Valley — per sources. However, the price has to be right and he has to clear medically. The draft is deep for running backs — even those that can be the change of pace type.
The Broncos need someone to help take pressure off of Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, and possibly make the offensive better. In McCoy's system, there is a lot that a third receiver is needed for.
The Broncos were linked to Victor Cruz prior to free agency. As a street free agent, he wouldn’t count in the compensatory pick formula next year.
Steve Johnson was liked a lot by McCoy in San Diego, but health was a huge factor and still remains. Holmes has a connection to QBs Coach Bill Musgrave out of Oakland, and his name has been floated, but his price may be out of Broncos range. Finally there is Cordarrelle Patterson, who can help on offense and would give Denver a returner.
With a deep class filled with excellent No. 3 receiver options and returner options, the Broncos likely won’t look to free agency, unless the price falls perfectly in line with what they are willing.
I haven’t heard any names here, but the Broncos could look to add some competition for Todd Davis, whom they tendered at the second round level. It is a weak draft class, and free agency isn’t much better. Maybe as the days/weeks go by and the market clears up, the Broncos will look into a cheap value signing with potential.
The Broncos have added two offensive linemen, but are still missing a true left tackle. O-line Coach Jeff Davidson has a lot of faith in Donald Stephenson at left tackle, where he performed better in Kansas City.
A power scheme also is a better fit for Stephenson. Finally, the top pass rushers in the AFC West come off the right side and not the left.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1761663-broncos-add-og-but-miss-o... The faith Davidson has led to the restructure of Stephenson’s deal, but it doesn’t guarantee he makes the 53-man roster. Instead of $4 million being guaranteed tomorrow, he has $2 million guarantee with the rest coming through guaranteed if he makes the 53-man roster.
As for the market for left tackles, there is little left and the draft is a weak class. The Broncos could look to add another cheaper signing for more competition.
As it stands now, they won't be forced to reach in the draft, thanks to the Watson signing, who also can play left tackle, and the faith in Stephenson. This is a bad draft class with no day one starters at tackle.
You don’t want to be caught reaching. Both Smith and Vollmer give Denver more options as to how they can assemble their offensive line and would help take away the need there.
The Broncos could look for a receiving tight end, but free agency has depleted the tight end market. The draft is the deepest it has ever been for tight ends, with plenty of options.
Veteran Pass Rusher
However, they still see a need for veteran rusher that can play a role on defense. Elvis Dumervil has a history with Denver, as does DeMarcus Ware, both of whom would fit perfectly for what Denver is looking for.
Jarvis Jones never lived up to his draft selection, but potential still there and he could see some growth. Erik Walden quietly had a great 2016 campaign, picking up 11 sacks. If the price is right, he could be that veteran pass rusher.
Dwight Freeney falls in with Dumervil and Ware. Connor Barwin is a good all-around player, who may view his price tag to be more than what Denver is willing to pay. As for Mario Williams, new Head Coach Vance Joseph knows him. But at this point of Williams' career, he is more of a run defender than pass rusher.
The Broncos shouldn’t consider themselves done on the defensive line. They still could use some help to add to the competition there, even though they signed Domata Peko and Zach Kerr.
The signings of those two likely means no Johnathan Hankins or Bennie Logan, due to their asking price. A player like Jared Odrick, Datone Jones or Vance Walker (provided cleared medically) could be excellent value signings.
Odrick isn’t too far removed from an excellent season. Walker was set to have a breakout year and Jones has been solid, mostly, for Green Bay. Alualu has flown under the radar some, but is a strong run defender who has a some pass rush ability. He is best as part of a rotation.
Defensive line is deep in the draft, but some added veteran help is always good for younger guys. Denver may add here during and after the draft.
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Erick Trickel is the Senior Draft Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ErickTrickel.