The plan hasn't been full of excitement. The Broncos wanted to retain as much of their team as possible, and they've done so.
Potential free agents such as offensive linemen Tom Nalen and Matt Lepsis, defensive tackle Gerard Warren and running back Ron Dayne were re-signed. The Broncos didn't lose any of the key free agents they wanted to re-sign, and after last season's 13-3 record the players are pleased with that.
"When you go 14-4 (including the playoffs), you don't necessarily have to make as many changes as a team that went 2-14," Broncos fullback Kyle Johnson said.
The biggest news in the off-season was that the team released defensive end Trevor Pryce, running back Mike Anderson and tight end Jeb Putzier right before free agency was supposed to begin, and before a new collective bargaining agreement was signed.
Pryce and Anderson signed with Baltimore and Putzier went to Houston.
"It was a little surprising, I'm not going to lie to you," Johnson said of the three cuts. "But this is how I look at it. They worked out, they're healthy and on other teams and doing fine, Denver is healthy, strong and doing fine, and they reached a collective-bargaining agreement. That was a win-win-win. That's why I'm like, 'We're all right.'"
The Broncos signed defensive end Kenard Lang from Cleveland to help replace Pryce. Denver will very likely draft a running back this month and probably will also add a tight end for depth.
Denver also is being patient to see what opportunities may come along before the season starts, such as a veteran getting released or traded.
"The off-season is constituted, in my opinion, over a long period of time," Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist said. "That first swell of free agency has kind of subsided and people think that's the end of it, but really, it's not."
--The Broncos re-signed linebacker Patrick Chukwurah, another free agent Denver didn't want to let get away. Chukwurah is a good athlete, can back up at many positions and can rush the quarterback from the defensive end position in the Broncos' nickel defense.
Chukwurah is also a key special teams player for the Broncos.
--Denver will play four times in prime time this season. The Broncos have three prime-time games in a row, playing at New England on a Sunday night in Week 3, followed by a Monday night game against Baltimore after their bye week and a home Sunday night game against the Raiders.
Denver will be welcoming former Broncos Mike Anderson and Trevor Pryce for the Monday night game against Baltimore. Denver released Anderson and Pryce this off-season, and both signed with the Ravens.
--The Broncos need to use their two first-round picks -- the 15th and 22nd overall -- to get some players that can contribute in some role right away. Perhaps that means trading the picks to move up and draft one immediate impact player, but the Broncos could fill some holes in the draft after being quiet in free agency.
The Broncos are a veteran team and it's not a guarantee that even a top pick would enter the starting lineup right away.
"It depends on the position we pick," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said of the possibility of a rookie starting this season.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
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 was 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: Coach 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: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): S Chris Young.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: WR Charlie Adams; LB Louis Green.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: S Sam Brandon; LB Keith Burns; LB Patrick Chukwurah; RB Ron Dayne; DE John Engelberger; LS/TE Mike Leach; OT Matt Lepsis; DT Demetrin Veal; DT Gerard Warren.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: DE Kenard Lang; LB Nate Webster.
PLAYERS LOST: RB Mike Anderson; DE Marco Coleman; DT Monsanto Pope; DE Trevor Pryce; TE Jeb Putzier.
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