Broncos positioned for free agency

Last season, the Denver Broncos had many of their own free agents to re-sign, and that was the dominant priority of their off-season. This season, they should be able to chase a few unrestricted free agents to fill some of the holes on the roster.

TEAM NEEDS/OFF-SEASON STRATEGY

Last season, the Broncos had many of their own free agents to re-sign, and that was the dominant priority of their off-season. Center Tom Nalen, left tackle Matt Lepsis and defensive tackle Gerard Warren were among the free agents who were locked up to contracts. This season is much different because the team doesn't have any free agents who can't be replaced.

Defensive tackle Michael Myers and offensive guard Cooper Carlisle are the only starters who are unrestricted free agents. The Broncos would like both back, but indicated they will let them test the market and won't overspend for either.

The Broncos should be able to chase a few unrestricted free agents to fill some of the holes on the roster.

1. Defensive line: The Broncos need fast ends that can line up wide and get after the quarterback in Jim Bates' system. The Broncos won't be the only team in search of some pass-rushing defensive linemen, and the market could be steep for them this off-season, as usual.

2. Running back: The Broncos need to figure out who will be their top back in 2007. Tatum Bell had 1,000 yards but the team could shop him in a trade. The Broncos planned on drafting Laurence Maroney before moving up to pick quarterback Jay Cutler, so they're willing to invest in a top tailback.

3. Cornerback: Tragically, this position became one of need after Darrent Williams' death on Jan. 1. Domonique Foxworth should capably fill Williams' starting position, but there isn't a lot of experienced depth.

MEDICAL WATCH: OT Matt Lepsis should be fully recovered from a torn ACL and be 100 percent for the 2007 season. He is a key part of Denver's offense.

--S Sam Brandon suffered a torn ACL in November. The Broncos will probably be cautious with him but think he'll be able to participate in the off-season minciamps.

--FB Cecil Sapp's season ended because of a broken leg. He should be ready to participate in the beginning of the team's off-season workouts.

--S Nick Ferguson had surgery on his knee late in the season, but it was minor. His timetable for recovery was late January, so he will be ready.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--LB Keith Burns will probably be back. He is a good leader and a special-teams fixture.

--OG Cooper Carlisle will likely test the open market. The Broncos want the versatile Carlisle back, but they have solid depth if he leaves.

--DE Patrick Chukwurah could get some attention because of his speed as a pass rusher. The Broncos won't overpay to bring him back.

--WR Quincy Morgan impressed at the end of the season on kickoff returns. The Broncos will try to keep him.

--DT Michael Myers is a solid, steady performer in the middle. Quality defensive linemen usually get attention in free agency, so the Broncos will wait to see if it is prudent to re-sign him.

--DT Kenny Peterson was inactive most weeks for the Broncos. He might come back to compete for a job in training camp.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--LB Louis Green is a solid special teams player and he could return.

--FB Kyle Johnson has been a starter. With Cecil Sapp coming off a broken leg, Johnson will probably be back.

--FB Cecil Sapp is a talented player who fills many roles. Even though he's coming off an injury, he should be back.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: Not available.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: None.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED: None.

PLAYERS LOST: None.



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