Just a couple of weeks removed from taking the top-two offensive guards in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Chargers made a bold move. On Monday, the Chargers released veteran guard Orlando Franklin.
Franklin was part of John Elway's maiden Draft class in 2011 — a second round pick — although it bears mentioning that Brian Xanders served as the Denver Broncos General Manager that year. Xanders helped ease Elway's transition to the front office, showing him the ropes of the scouting and personnel game.
Franklin played out his entire rookie contract in Denver, mostly at right tackle. However, after Franklin, and the entire Broncos offensive line, were decimated by the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, the team moved Franklin inside to left guard.
Following the 2014 season, Franklin signed a five-year, $36.5 million deal with the Chargers. The Broncos showed little interest in bringing Franklin back, despite the fact that he was one of their best O-linemen.
Franklin was scheduled to make $6 million in 2017 and after the Chargers took Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney in the Draft, the veteran became expendable. Something tells me, however, Los Angeles will live to rue this decision. Franklin started all 16 games for the Chargers in 2016.
With his history in the Mile High City and connection to Mike McCoy — Denver's new offensive coordinator and former Chargers head coach — Franklin would make a lot of sense for the Broncos. Denver is moving to the power scheme, which Franklin embodies with authority.
He might not be the most athletic player, but Franklin fits the 'bully' mentality the Broncos are cultivating in the trenches this year. It's unfortunate that the Chargers waited this long to release Franklin, but at 29 years old, he will garner interest around the league.
The Broncos signed guard Ronald Leary and tackle Menelik Watson in free agency and drafted tackle Garett Bolles in the first round. Franklin, were he to return to Denver, would immediately upgrade over Max Garcia at right guard.
Can you imagine Denver's rushing attack with Bolles, Leary, Matt Paradis, Franklin and Watson as the starting five? Before you get too caught up in that fantasy, keep in mind that Elway has shown no propensity for bringing back former Broncos he's let depart via free agency.
Elway could have gone after Ryan Clady, Elvis Dumervil and even Louis Vasquez, especially considering some of Denver's roster needs, but he chose to stand pat. The Broncos have the cap space to sign Franklin, but with an already crowded depth chart and the team's recent investments in the Draft, I would say the odds of Franklin returning to Denver are slim.
We can't discount the possibility absolutely, though. A return to Denver would make a lot of sense for a multitude of reasons. But don't set your heart on it.
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.