Broncos Update Insider - Monday, March 7

The Broncos hope that defensive tackle Gerard Warren reacts well to a change of scenery. <p> Denver gave up a fourth-round pick to acquire Warren, the third overall pick of the 2001 draft. Warren has never lived up to that draft billing with the Browns and was cleaned out by a new regime in Cleveland.

For the Broncos, it is a low risk gamble. They were unlikely to get a interior lineman who could come in and contribute right away like Warren can in the fourth round of the draft, and they are in dire need of line help.

Warren will be reunited with Andre Patterson, who was Warren's defensive line coach in Cleveland and was hired in Denver this offseason to assist in coaching the defensive front.

Patterson knows Warren well, and he was excited about the prospects of coaching him again.

"He was the third overall pick in the (2001) draft and he's got that kind of talent," Patterson said. "He had some immaturity issues when he first came into the league, but I think he's starting to get over that."

Patterson said he thinks Warren could play nose tackle or end in a 3-4 defense, which Denver is planning to run on occasion this season. Warren should also be helped by the relationship he has with Patterson as he makes the adjustment to coming to the Broncos. v "Me and him have a tremendous relationship," Patterson said.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Broncos signed free-agent outside linebacker Ian Gold, who comes back to the Broncos after a year in Tampa Bay. The Broncos will now be able to line up Gold and D.J. Williams as their outside linebackers when they use a 3-4 defense, which will give the Broncos a lot of speed on the outside.

Gold almost re-signed with the Broncos last year before leaving. He was negotiating with Broncos coach Mike Shanahan on the first day of the draft, but when an agreement couldn't be reached the Broncos went ahead and drafted Williams with their first pick.

"As we looked at the situation, it was almost like he never left," Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist said. "We knew everything about him."

--Offensive left tackle Matt Lepsis restructured his contract to help the Broncos gain an additional $800,000 in salary-cap space. He had $1 million of his base salary turned into a bonus.

The contract can be voided after the 2005 season and Lepsis can become a free agent. Lepsis made the transition from right tackle to left tackle last year and had a very good season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We thought the risk vs. the reward is heavily in our favor." -- Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist on the team sending a fourth-round pick to Cleveland for tackle Gerard Warren.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

NEEDS/DRAFT PRIORITIES:
1. Defensive line. Even before the team decided to trade Trevor Pryce, defensive line was a priority. They need players who can beat offensive linemen in a one-on-one situation and get to the quarterback.
2. Offensive line: The tackle spots are set with Matt Lepsis on the left side and George Foster on the right side, and free agent guard Ben Hamilton re-signed with the team. But the team needs to find a couple of guards. The starting right guard spot is open for competition and Hamilton will eventually move over to center when Tom Nalen retires.
3. Defensive back. The Broncos could lose either Kelly Herndon or Lenny Walls, both restricted free agents, which would leave their cornerback depth thin. That has been a problem in playoff losses each of the past two years at Indianapolis.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: P Jason Baker; OG Cooper Carlisle; DE Marco Coleman; DT Luther Elliss; TE Patrick Hape; RB Garrison Hearst; DT Ellis Johnson; S Kenoy Kennedy; TE Mike Leach; LB Donnie Spragan.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: S Sam Brandon; DT Dorsett Davis; CB Kelly Herndon; DE Anton Palepoi; DT Monsanto Pope; TE Jeb Putzier (presented offer sheet to Jets); CB Lenny Walls.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: OG Ben Hamilton.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: LB Ian Gold; DT Gerard Warren.
PLAYERS LOST: DE Reggie Hayward.

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