Broncos Update Insider

If Todd Sauerbrun can stay out of trouble, the Denver Broncos landed an excellent punter.

Sauerbrun signed a one-year, incentive-laden deal with the Broncos. The same issue the Broncos had with him a year ago, when they released him, still remains, and that's a looming one-year suspension if he again violates the NFL's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances.

Sauerbrun was released last year when he was coming off a four-game suspension for a positive test. This time around, Sauerbrun wants to make good with the Broncos.

"Just immature, stupid," Sauerbrun said about his past mistakes. "What else can I say? It was just dumb. You learn. Either you learn, or you're done. It's pretty simple."

Sauerbrun was available as a free agent because he won an arbitration hearing against the New England Patriots. The Patriots had a right of first refusal put in his contract last year, and when the Broncos signed Sauerbrun to an offer sheet this off-season, the Patriots matched the offer and kept Sauerbrun.

However, the right of first refusal wasn't done properly. It had to be on a separate form attached to the contract, but the Patriots didn't do that. A special master ruled the right of first refusal clause was invalid and Sauerbrun was a free agent.

Sauerbrun wanted to go back to Denver, and couldn't believe he got his wish.

"The guy couldn't be happier with the way the team stepped up and with the support he got from the players' association," said Sauerbrun's agent, David Canter. "He's overwhelmed. He's excited about going back to Denver."

Paul Ernster is affected most by Sauerbrun's signing. Ernster won the full-time job when Sauerbrun was released last year, but he finished 28th in the NFL in gross punting average. Mike Shanahan usually doesn't like to keep a kickoff specialist on the roster, so Ernster's future with Denver is in doubt.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Punter Todd Sauerbrun thinks he can have a fantastic season with Broncos special teams coach Scott O'Brien coaching him again. O'Brien coached Sauerbrun for four seasons in Carolina, and Sauerbrun had some of his best seasons with him.

"I expect, big, big things this year," Sauerbrun said.

--Even though the Broncos brought in Travis Henry to start at tailback, Mike Bell doesn't want to concede the job without a fight. Bell said he's just going to do what he can to make a positive impression on the coaches.

"I'm going in and working like I'm the No. 1 every day," Bell said. "That's how I prepared last year and it helped me a lot."

--Broncos safety Nick Ferguson, who had a torn meniscus in his left knee and had season-ending surgery last year, said he wants to participate in the Broncos' post-draft minicamps.

"If they choose to hold me back because they want to wait, that will be up to them," Ferguson said. "But I want to participate in them."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I want to make amends." -- Punter Todd Sauerbrun on his return to Denver.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: Not available.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

--LB Louis Green: Potential RFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--FB Kyle Johnson: RFA; terms unknown.
--WR Quincy Morgan: UFA; terms unknown.
--DT Kenny Peterson: UFA; terms unknown.
--FB Cecil Sapp: RFA; $1.3M/1 yr.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

--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.
--DT Alvin McKinley: UFA Browns; $8M/4 yrs, SB unknown.
--QB Patrick Ramsey: FA Jets; $4.5M/2 yrs, SB unknown.
--P Todd Sauerbrun: UFA Patriots; $820,000/1 yr.
--FB Paul Smith: UFA Rams; $2.55M/3 yrs, $300,000 SB.
--WR Brandon Stokley: FA Colts; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR David Terrell: FA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

PLAYERS LOST

--RB Tatum Bell (traded Lions).
--DE Courtney Brown (released).
--LB Keith Burns: UFA; retired.
--OG Cooper Carlisle: UFA Raiders; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--DE Patrick Chukwurah: UFA Buccaneers; $5.5M/5 yrs, SB unknown.
--OT George Foster (traded Lions).
--DT Michael Myers: UFA Bengals; $1.65M/2 yrs, $100,000 SB.
--RB Damien Nash (deceased).
--QB Jake Plummer (traded Buccaneers).
--CB Darrent Williams (deceased).
--LB Al Wilson (released).



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