The Denver Broncos rolled the dice, letting last year's starting left tackle, Russell Okung, walk via free agency. It was a calculated risk and it remains to be seen whether it will pay off for John Elway.
The Broncos signed tackle Menelik Watson in the early stages of free agency. Since entering the league as an Oakland second round pick back in 2013, Watson has primarily been a right tackle. So losing Okung and gaining Watson is not an apples-to-apples transaction.
Could Watson work out at left tackle? It's possible. But Denver likes him on the right side, where he's accustomed.
So, what are Denver's plans on the left side? A couple weeks ago, Elway said that the team is going to "take a peek" at Donald Stephenson at left tackle, which caused Broncos Country to collectively blow a gasket.
Speaking from the NFL Owners' Meetings this week, Elway cautioned patience, elaborating a little more on what Denver's intentions are at one of the key positions on the grid-iron.
“We’ll have a solution," Elway said. "It’s not fixed yet but it doesn’t have to be fixed yet. We’ll continue to work on it. We’re aware of that problem. We’ll do the best thing big-picture-wise for the Broncos.”
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What would be the best thing for the Broncos in the big picture? They drafted Ty Sambrailo in the second round two years ago. Honestly, the best Sambrailo has ever looked as a pro was in his first three career starts as a rookie in 2015, protecting Peyton Manning's blind side.
It would be great for the Broncos if their 2015 second round pick could step up and hold down the left tackle spot. That might be what's best for the team, but they can't count on that happening. Sambrailo still has a ways to go in his development.
Perhaps the Draft offers the best long-term options, but even then, it might not offer immediate solutions. If the Broncos want to take an impact tackle in the upcoming Draft, it'll have to be early.
“There are always options" Elway said. "I think some are better than others, obviously. It’s kind of funny how as soon as one option becomes available that’s the fix. We still have many months in front of us to do the best we can to fill that and that’s what we’ll do.”
Elway doesn't sound too worried about it, despite the issue being arguably the one creating the most anxiety in the fanbase. The Broncos have two options on the roster. Neither of them are known commodities.
If Denver is looking for an immediate solution, the trade market might be the best solution, even if that means giving up a draft pick or two. As a former quarterback, nobody is better qualified to recognize the value of a quality left tackle than Elway.
As I wrote about before the Combine, the Broncos need a big win at left tackle. Something tells me the trade market, as we get closer to the Draft, will offer Elway the best solution.
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Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.