Broncos Update Insider - Saturday, May 28

Jerry Rice wasn't guaranteed playing time or even a roster spot with the Denver Broncos. However, the future hall of famer wanted another chance to play and he signed a one-year contract with the Broncos.

"There will not be a red carpet or anything like that," said Rice, who has played 20 NFL seasons. "I'm basically going to come in and earn my job."

Rice said he wants to come in, blend in with his teammates and have fun. The Broncos didn't bring him in out of charity -- he will probably find a role with the Broncos.

The most important role Rice immediately has is giving Denver some depth if there are injuries. Fortunately for the Broncos last season, Rod Smith, Ashley Lelie and Darius Watts were healthy the entire year because there was no proven depth behind them. And before signing Rice, the Broncos hadn't added one receiver of note in the offseason.

Rice could also cut into Watts' playing time at the No. 3 receiver spot. The Broncos are still high on Watts, a second-round pick last season who opened eyes with an impressive training camp and preseason. But as the season wore on Watts faded and dropped plenty of key passes.

If Watts falters, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan knows what Rice can bring to the offense. Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers from 1992-94 when Rice was there, and Shanahan watched film of Rice's play last season before signing him and thought Rice had something left.

"He was still very productive," Shanahan said.

Rice could also help Denver in the red zone, an area that the Broncos struggled in last season. Rice has 197 career receiving touchdowns, the most in NFL history.

Rice said that 2005 will "probably" be his last season. However, he said he doesn't want to be a distraction to the Broncos in any way. "It's not going to be hard for me to walk away from this game, but I want to get everything I can out of this game," Rice said.

NOTES

-- On the heels of Cleveland tight end Kellen Winslow injuring himself while riding a motorcycle, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan warned his team about dangerous off-the-field activities. A few days later, guard P.J. Alexander tore the ACL in his left knee while riding an off-road four-wheel vehicle.

"I (warned the team about dangerous activities) three days before (Alexander's injury), to give you an idea how strong my speech was," Shanahan said.

Alexander was supposed to compete for the starting right guard spot with Cooper Carlisle but he will miss the entire season with the injury.

"I don't know if he was going to tip over or something, but he put his foot down and tore his ACL," Shanahan said. "It had nothing to do with football."

-- Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he was confident that running back Quentin Griffin (knee), defensive end Courtney Brown (foot), defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban (shoulder, knee) and cornerback Jeff Shoate (knee) will be able to participate in the team's camp the first two weeks of June.

Those four players were limited participants the team's quarterback camp the final two weeks in May.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None. UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--RB Garrison Hearst didn't play poorly when he was called upon last year, but the Broncos don't have much use for him with their crowded backfield.
--DT Ellis Johnson is a productive pass-rushing interior lineman and the Broncos would love to get him back for another season.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED
--S Sam Brandon: RFA; $656,000/1 yr.
--T/G Cooper Carlisle: UFA; $2M/2 yrs, $500,000 SB.v --DE Marco Coleman: UFA; terms unknown.
--DT Dorsett Davis: RFA; $656,000/1 yr.
--DT Luther Elliss: UFA; terms unknown.
--OG Ben Hamilton: UFA; $16.25M/5 yrs, $5.5M guaranteed.
--TE Patrick Hape: UFA; terms unknown.
--TE/LS Mike Leach: UFA; terms unknown.
--DE Anton Palepoi: RFA; $656,000/1 yr.
--DT Monsanto Pope: RFA; $656,000/1 yr.
--TE Jeb Putzier: RFA/matched Jets offer; $12.5M/5 yrs, $2.5M SB.
--CB Lenny Walls: RFA; $1.43M/1 yr.
--S Chris Young: ERFA; $380,000/1 yr.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED
--TE Stephen Alexander: UFA Lions; $4.2M/3 yrs, $1M bonuses.
--DE Courtney Brown: FA Browns; terms unknown.
--LB Keith Burns: UFA Buccaneers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--OT Anthony Clement: FA Cardinals; terms unknown.
--RB Ron Dayne: UFA Giants; terms unknown.
--DE Ebenezer Ekuban (trade Browns).
--LB Ian Gold: FA Buccaneers; $25M/6 yrs, $5.75M SB/$2.5M RB '06.
--DT Michael Myers (trade Browns).
--WR Jerry Rice: FA Seahawks; $765,000/1 yr, $25,000 SB.
--P Todd Sauerbrun (trade Panthers).
--OG Cameron Spikes: UFA Cardinals; terms unknown.
--DT Gerard Warren (trade Browns).
PLAYERS LOST
--P Jason Baker (trade Panthers).
--RB Reuben Droughns (traded Browns).
--DE Reggie Hayward: UFA Jaguars; $25M/5 yrs, SB unknown.
--CB Kelly Herndon: RFA Seahawks; $15M/5 yrs, $3.6M SB.
--S Kenoy Kennedy: UFA Lions; $14M/5 yrs, $4M SB.
--OG Dan Neil (released).
--LB Donnie Spragan: UFA Dolphins; $1.9M/2 yrs, $500,000 SB.

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