The shooting of cornerback Darrent Williams on Jan. 1 was a shock to the organization and the NFL. Nobody was prepared for a second death. Running back Damien Nash collapsed and died shortly after participating in a charity basketball game on Feb. 24.
The pain the Broncos have endured in a short time will not be easy to forget about as they go forward.
"It has not been a good two months," said assistant defensive backs coach Ronnie Bradford. "You can't say what it's like, first losing a member of your family, and then losing a second member. It makes you numb, like, is this for real?"
Nash was well liked, a practice-squad signee who got into the tailback rotation late in the season after being signed from the active roster.
Many Broncos players and coaches have attended two funerals for 24-year-old players who inexplicably passed away since the season ended.
"The Denver Broncos organization is once again struck with profound sadness over the tragic loss of one of our players," Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said in a statement.
During the 2007 season, the Broncos will surely have tributes to Williams and Nash, and try to carry on with the business of playing football.
"It's tough, that's all I can tell you," running backs coach Bobby Turner said. "You're existing and you still have to go on."
--The Broncos re-signed receiver Quincy Morgan. Morgan was a priority because of how well he returned kickoffs late in the season. He got a chance late in the year after rookie Brian Clark struggled, and had a 64-yard return against Arizona.
With a full off-season to learn the offense, Morgan could also be a factor on offense.
--Receiver Rod Smith's hip surgery could affect the Broncos' draft plans. Smith might not be ready for the start of training camp, and he will be 37 years old this off-season. The Broncos like second-year player Brandon Marshall, but depth is a bit of a concern.
--The Broncos introduced tight end Daniel Graham and running back Travis Henry, their biggest additions in free agency, at a press conference. Denver has been lacking playmakers on offense for a couple of seasons, and Graham and Henry both fit the offense very well.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm ready to move on with my life and try some other challenges." -- Former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
MEDICAL WATCH: WR Rod Smith had hip surgery in late February to clean out some tissue. The timetable for his recovery is four months, but there is a chance he won't be ready for the start of training camp in late July.
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.
--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.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--FB Cecil Sapp (tendered at $1.3M with 2nd-round pick as compensation) 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.
--LB Louis Green: Potential RFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Quincy Morgan: UFA; terms unknown.
--DT Kenny Peterson: UFA; terms unknown.
--CB Dre' Bly (trade Lions).
--TE Daniel Graham: UFA Patriots; $30M/5 yrs, $15M guaranteed.
--RB Travis Henry: FA Titans; 5 yrs, $12M guaranteed; other terms unknown.
--OG Montrae Holland: UFA Saints; $1M/1 yr, SB unknown.
--QB Patrick Ramsey: FA Jets; $4.5M/2 yrs, SB unknown.
--FB Paul Smith: UFA Rams; $2.55M/3 yrs, $300,000 SB.
--DT Dan Wilkinson (trade Dolphins).
--RB Tatum Bell (traded Lions).
--DE Patrick Chukwurah: UFA Buccaneers; $5.5M/5 yrs, SB unknown.
--OT George Foster (traded Lions).
--RB Damien Nash (deceased).
--QB Jake Plummer (traded Buccaneers).
--CB Darrent Williams (deceased).
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