Denver Broncos Team Report 3/26/06

With the 2006 NFL Draft fast approaching, Broncos Update takes an inside look at the Denver Broncos and where they may be headed in the upcoming season.

At one point the Denver Broncos were interested in New York Jets defensive end John Abraham. Denver might have ended up getting the best out of a deal that ultimately sent Abraham to Atlanta.

Denver moved up 14 spots in the first round of April's draft, sending their 29th overall pick to Atlanta for the 15th overall pick. Denver also included a third-round pick in this year's draft, the 93rd overall pick, and a fourth-round pick in 2007.

That isn't a very steep price for Denver to move up in the first round. After the season ended, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan sounded pessimistic about moving up in the first round because it might be costly.

"I think we've seen in the draft, someone who moves two picks gives up a No. 2 or a late No. 1 to go up two spots," Shanahan said.

Denver now has two of the top 22 picks in the draft, which gives the Broncos some options. Denver could use both picks to get a top 10 pick if they choose, move back a few spots and pick up mid-round picks or simply draft two of the top 22 prospects available.

"It gives you a little bit of leverage with the pick, with trading, with anything," Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist said.

Sundquist said the team wasn't focusing on any player or position when it moved up to the 15th pick in the draft. If Denver keeps the pick it could select a franchise running back like USC's LenDale White, a top receiver like Ohio State's Santonio Holmes or another position like defensive back or safety.

Sundquist said the team has many options in the draft because it feels comfortable with how it stands a few weeks into free agency. The Broncos haven't made any major additions - the biggest signing was former Browns defensive lineman Kenard Lang - but they retained all of their key free agents after going 13-3 last season.

NOTES, QUOTES
--The Broncos are one of the teams that have talked to the representatives of Buffalo Bills receiver Eric Moulds, who wants to be traded. But Moulds has many teams interested in him and it's unlikely the Broncos will make a push to get him.

--The Broncos took a look at a couple of quarterbacks in free agency. They contacted Gus Frerotte and Mike McMahon, but Frerotte signed with the Rams and McMahon went to the Vikings. Denver still likes the ability and potential of third-year backup Bradlee Van Pelt, who was a seventh-round pick in 2004.

--Denver added two former Cleveland defensive linemen after adding four last off-season. Kenard Lang was signed by the team as a free agent and then the Broncos claimed linemen Amon Gordon off waivers. Gordon didn't play in 2005 because of a knee injury.

The Broncos cut receiver Bill Flowers to make room for Gordon.

--With most of the big names off the free agent market, the Broncos will focus on the draft and waiting for veterans to be released to fill the remaining holes on the roster.

QUOTE TO NOTE:
"From time to time, you have to weigh the cost and resources in regards to cap and cash to the production you feel you're going to get in return."
- Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist on the team releasing end Trevor Pryce, running back Mike Anderson and tight end Jeb Putzier this off-season.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Broncos still might want to add a defensive lineman in the draft or free agency. Denver retained tackle Gerard Warren but released defensive end Trevor Pryce. Kenard Lang was signed, but he will mainly play in pass-rushing situations. Ebenezer Ekuban is still on the roster and would be the starting end opposite Courtney Brown right now.

The Broncos addressed some potential issues by re-signing center Tom Nalen and left tackle Matt Lepsis. With those signings the offensive line that blocked for the No. 2 rushing offense in the NFL will return intact. The Broncos would also like to find another playmaker on offense, whether in free agency or the draft.

TEAM NEEDS
1. Wide receiver/tight end: An upgrade is in order, especially for depth. One in-house possibility is David Terrell, a former first-round pick who was on the roster but only active for one game last season. Denver could use one of its two first-round picks on a receiver. Denver will also look at tight ends after releasing Jeb Putzier.

2. Running back: Mike Shanahan would prefer a back that can carry the ball a majority of the time instead of the committee he used last year, which is one reason 1,000-yard rusher Mike Anderson was released. Tatum Bell could be that back, but the Broncos also want to re-sign potential free agent Ron Dayne and will look for a tailback in the draft.

3. Defensive line: Denver could use an infusion of young talent, but could look for a veteran to replace end Trevor Pryce. The Broncos will look at the draft for some help and will monitor veteran cuts over the next few months.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LB Keith Burns; LB Patrick Chukwurah; DT Monsanto Pope.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): S Chris Young.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: WR Charlie Adams; LB Louis Green; DT Demetrin Veal.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: S Sam Brandon; RB Ron Dayne; DE John Engelberger; LS/TE Mike Leach; OT Matt Lepsis; DT Gerard Warren.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: DE Kenard Lang; LB Nate Webster.
PLAYERS LOST: RB Mike Anderson; DE Marco Coleman; DE Trevor Pryce; TE Jeb Putzier.



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