Broncos Update Insider - Monday, Mar. 21

The Broncos made a choice before free agency started that cornerback Lenny Walls would get a first-round tender and cornerback Kelly Herndon wouldn't. Neither player was drafted so there would be no draft pick compensation with the low tender if either one was signed away.

Herndon started last season when Walls was hurt, but Herndon said he had no ill feelings towards Denver because they didn't give him a high tender.

"It's nothing to be disappointed about, especially with how the situation was," Herndon said. "We knew they wouldn't give two first-round tenders out. They really like Lenny and he's going to be a great player."

That decision could be costly for the Broncos. Because Herndon doesn't cost a team a draft pick, he's a no-risk signing in a market that is thin on cornerbacks.

Herndon has been solid for the Broncos the past two years and they still have the right of first refusal if anyone signs him to an offer sheet. Denver has said they don't want to lose him, and could match an offer if it's not too large.

However, there's certainly no guarantee Herndon will be back with the Broncos.

"It's still up in the air," Herndon said. "I don't know exactly what the Broncos are going to do, as far as matching another offer."

One of Denver's weaknesses in the playoffs the past two years has been depth at cornerback. Losing Herndon, who would be an excellent nickel back alongside starters Walls and Champ Bailey, would not help that situation.

The Broncos could draft another cornerback to be their nickel back if Herndon leaves, or they could turn to Willie Middlebrooks, Jeremy LeSueur, Roc Alexander or Jeff Shoate to perform that role.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Safety Nick Ferguson will have a bigger role this season. The Broncos lost safety Kenoy Kennedy to Detroit in free agency, but one of the reasons they didn't give Kennedy a huge contract is because they like Ferguson.

Ferguson can play either safety position and is the type of physical player the Broncos like. He was a starter in 2003 and was slated to be a starter last year until Denver signed John Lynch.

--For the second straight year, the Broncos have missed out on landing a solid backup quarterback in free agency.

Denver courted free agent Jeff Garcia, but Garcia decided to sign with Detroit. The Broncos also couldn't land Gus Frerotte, who went to Miami. The Broncos could pursue another free agent, or they could have Danny Kanell and Matt Mauck battle for the No. 2 spot in training camp.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "If we were to consider that situation (using a 3-4 defense), we're fairly well stocked." -- Broncos defensive coordinator Larry Coyer.

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. Herndon received an offer from the Seahawks, and the Broncos now have until March 24 to match.

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