Broncos Update Inside Slant - Monday, March 29

The Broncos certainly shouldn't be lacking locker room leaders. Garrison Hearst was one in San Francisco. And there's no question safety John Lynch also brings those qualities to the Broncos. Read all the latest notes, quotes, annecdotes and personnel updates about the Broncos in today's edition of the Broncos Update Inside Slant.

The Broncos certainly shouldn't be lacking locker room leaders. Garrison Hearst was one in San Francisco. And there's no question safety John Lynch brings those qualities to the Broncos after signing a three-year, $9.26 million deal.

"You can talk about all the talent in the world, but it comes down to the little things and effort really. That's what I hope to communicate to these guys," Lynch said.

Lynch is the latest addition to the Broncos' revamped defense, joining Pro Bowl corner Champ Bailey, and defensive ends Raylee Johnson and Luther Elliss.

The Broncos boasted one of the youngest secondaries in the NFL last year - starting the season with Kenoy Kennedy, Sam Brandon, Deltha O'Neal and Lenny Walls. Now it has two players with Pro Bowl resumes.

Expect Lynch to challenge Kennedy and Nick Ferguson for playing time. Kennedy is one of the game's biggest hitters, but he has been inconsistent at times. Ferguson, a former street free agent, played well before being injured.

Lynch brings solid run support, and knowledge, which should be a big boost for a defense that suffered a playoff meltdown against Indianapolis last season. He believes his best days are still ahead of him now that he's been given a clean bill of health after offseason neck surgery.

NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES

--Owner Pat Bowlen joked about being as much emcee as owner recently, having introduced players like Champ Bailey, Al Wilson and John Lynch following their decisions to sign - or re-sign - with Denver.

"It reminds me of the mid-90s with Neil Smith, Mark Schlereth, Alfred Williams and Gary Zimmerman," Bowlen said. "I daydream about that, but here we are again."

Bowlen can only hope these offseason moves pay off like those 8-10 years ago when key free agents fueled Denver's Super Bowl runs.

--Free-agent LB Ian Gold visited Detroit, and very well may sign with the Lions rather than return to Denver.

QUOTE TO NOTE "Ultimately I felt this was the best place." -- S John Lynch of signing with Denver, and having to turn down best friend Herman Edwards and the New York Jets.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Broncos continued their trend of adding veteran players regarded as solid character guys. John Lynch and Garrison Hearst are the latest, though both come with health issues. But with less than $2 million in cap room, their free-agent binge appears to be about over, with the focus shifted to the upcoming draft.

NEEDS/DRAFT PRIORITIES: RB - Garrison Hearst is in the fold, but the Broncos know they can never have enough running backs; DT - The Broncos likely will part ways with Daryl Gardener after a March arbitration hearing, and they're still looking for that impact player in the middle; WR - Rod Smith is still one of the best in the game but he's getting up in the years and Denver needs to start grooming someone to take his place especially now that Ed McCaffrey has retired. It would help if this pick is a big-time return guy as well.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (6): OT Blake Brockermeyer; WR Chris Cole; LB Ian Gold TE Patrick Hape; S Ryan McNeil; LB Johnny Rutledge.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (3): OG Ben Hamilton; DE Reggie Hayward; LB Donnie Spragan.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS (2): CB Kelly Herndon; S Chris Young.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: Spencer; CB Scott Turner; LB Al Wilson.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED: CB Champ Bailey; DE Marco Coleman; DT Luther Elliss; OT Cornell Green; RB Garrison Hearst; WR Willie Jackson; DE Raylee Johnson; S John Lynch; QB Mike Quinn; CB Reggie Stephens; TE Jed Weaver.

PLAYERS LOST: DE Bert Berry; LB Keith Burns; OG Steve Herndon; RB Clinton Portis; OT Ephraim Salaam.

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