Offseason needs and strategy

One thing the Broncos won't have to worry much about is their own crop of free agents.

Aside from kicker Jason Elam, who wants to stay and probably will, there are no key members of the team's nucleus up for free agency. Defensive end John Engelberger and safety Nick Ferguson are probably the top two after Elam.

What the Broncos will have to decide is what to do with a couple of their key offensive players who are due large bonuses this offseason.

Running back Travis Henry could come back with a restructured contract.

Receiver Javon Walker is less likely to be back with the team.

1. Defensive line: The Broncos made some strides last year, finding young linemen that can hopefully help them for years to come. But for a team that struggled to stop the run most of the season, more linemen are needed to help that turnaround.

2. Linebacker: D.J. Williams had a solid year in the middle, but might have been miscast. If the Broncos can find a good option at middle linebacker, Williams might move back outside. Depth at outside linebacker might also help.

3. Wide receiver: Unless Javon Walker comes back, which seems unlikely given some inflammatory comments after the season and large roster bonuses due this offseason, the Broncos need someone to go with Brandon Marshall. Brandon Stokley is a good third receiver, but the Broncos don't want him to be a full-time starter.

MEDICAL WATCH

--C Tom Nalen is recovering fine from a torn biceps muscle and the team expects him back at 100 percent in 2008.

--G Ben Hamilton, despite missing all of 2007 with post-concussion symptoms, should return to the team this year but his history means he will be closely monitored.

--DE Ebenezer Ekuban tore his Achilles' tendon in preseason, he should be able to participate in offseason workouts.

--TE Nate Jackson suffered a torn groin muscle that ended his season, but should be a full participant this offseason.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--TE Stephen Alexander is very unlikely to be back, he will probably retire.
--DE Ebenezer Ekuban missed all of last season with an Achilles' tendon injury, but could be back with a short deal.
--DE John Engelberger is a hard worker and solid against the run, and will probably be back.
--K Jason Elam will probably be back; both sides are interested in having him return.
--S Nick Ferguson was benched last year and finished his second straight season on injured reserve. He will look at his options in free agency.
--TE Nate Jackson is coming off a season-ending groin injury, but the Broncos have always liked the converted receiver.
--FB Cecil Sapp should return, he's a versatile performer who fits the Broncos offense well.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--S Hamza Abdullah is a potential starter at safety for the Broncos after being in that role the last half of 2007.
--CB Domonique Foxworth plays cornerback and safety and has been a solid performer for the Broncos.
--C Chris Myers filled in well for Tom Nalen last year, and his versatility will be an asset even if Nalen returns at 100 percent this season.
--CB Karl Paymah took steps in his third season and should continue to be part of the nickel and dime packages.

PLAYERS LOST --LB Warrick Holdman (released).
--OT Matt Lepsis (retired).



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