Elam Gone - Broncos Update Insider 3/21

Jason Elam is leaving the Denver Broncos after 15 seasons. Read the latest on Elam and all the rest of the Broncos in today's edition of Broncos Update Insider.

The Denver Broncos didn't have a starting spot for offensive lineman Chris Myers, and couldn't pay him starting money as he waited for one to open up.

Myers was traded to Houston for a sixth-round pick, the same compensation the Broncos would have received for letting the restricted free agent go. Myers was given the low tender and Denver would have gotten a sixth-round pick if it didn't match Houston's offer sheet.

The Texans gave Myers a four-year, $11 million deal with a $3 million signing bonus, and a starting spot at center.

"It's a bittersweet type thing," Myers said on Monday. "I never wanted to leave Denver but I wanted to look out for my own career and I wanted to be a starting center."

Myers was a starter all last season for Denver. He started at left guard when Ben Hamilton was out for the season with concussion symptoms, then went to center when Tom Nalen injured his biceps and was done for the year.

Although the Broncos liked Myers, Nalen and Hamilton are coming back this season. Denver also has Chris Kuper and Montrae Holland at guard. Although the Broncos had invested three years into Myers, they didn't want to match Houston's offer.

"They weren't going to put in those dollars to a backup," Myers said. "I respect that."

Myers should fit in right away with Houston. The Texans are coached by former Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, who runs the same zone-blocking scheme Denver uses.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Broncos have lost kicker Jason Elam in free agency. The Atlanta Falcons and Elam have agreed to a four-year, $9 million contract that includes $3.3 million in guaranteed money. Elam leaves Denver after 15 seasons with the Broncos. Elam played high school football in suburban Atlanta. Matt Prater, who hit one of his four field-goal attempts for Atlanta last year in his only NFL experience, is the only other kicker on the roster.

--Although Keary Colbert hasn't gone over 400 yards in a season since his rookie year in 2004, the Broncos signed the former Panther shortly after free agency began.

Colbert effectively replaces Javon Walker in the lineup. He could have a resurgence considering Brandon Marshall is coming off a 100-catch season. Colbert will be the favorite to start because the Broncos want to use Brandon Stokley as a slot receiver.

--Champ and Boss Bailey are in line to become the third set of brothers to be Broncos teammates. Eldon and William Danenhauer were members of the 1960 Broncos. Doug and Dave Widell were Broncos from 1990-92. Boss Bailey joined older brother Champ on the Broncos when he signed with Denver as a free agent.

--Through free agency the Broncos have improved at linebacker and safety, and might have put into focus what their draft strategy will be. With the 12th overall pick Denver could fill one of its holes on offense, at receiver or offensive tackle. Defensive line still remains a strong possibility as well.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've got a philosophy on defense that I'd like to get back to a little bit. Bob knows that philosophy." -- Broncos coach Mike Shanahan on defensive coordinator Bob Slowik.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

TEAM NEEDS/OFFSEASON STRATEGY

1. Defensive tackle: Without much left in free agency, the Broncos could use the draft to add some depth on the interior line. The legal situation involving Marcus Thomas also could be a major problem at defensive tackle, which is already a position of need. Veteran Alvin McKinley should return as one starter, and Thomas will probably start if he's still with the team.

2. Safety: John Lynch is back for another season, but probably only one more. The team likes Hamza Abdullah at the other safety, but he's still inexperienced and will have to make strides this season. A veteran signee could fill the gap between the present and the future.

3. Linebacker: Once the Broncos add to their linebacking corps, they'll have a better idea if they can move D.J. Williams back to his natural outside linebacker position. Niko Koutouvides could be a replacement in the middle, and it's hoped Boss Bailey will win the other outside spot. Denver released Ian Gold, who was coming off a poor season, but that does make the Broncos a bit thinner at linebacker.

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--TE Stephen Alexander is very unl
ikely to be back, he will probably retire.
--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.
--FB Cecil Sapp should return, he's a versatile performer who fits the Broncos offense well.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED
--LB Boss Bailey: UFA Lions; $17.5M/5 yrs, $4.35M SB.
--WR Keary Colbert: UFA Panthers: $7.3M/3 yrs, SB unknown.
--LB Niko Koutouvides: UFA Seahawks; $7.5M/3 yrs, SB unknown.
--S Marquand Manuel: UFA Panthers; $4.5M/3 yrs, $500,000 guaranteed.
--S Marlon McCree: FA Chargers; terms unknown.
--C Casey Wiegmann: UFA Chiefs; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED
--S Hamza Abdullah: Potential RFA; $972,000/1 yr.
--DE Ebenezer Ekuban: UFA; 1 YR, terms unknown.
--DE John Engelberger: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--CB Domonique Foxworth: Potential RFA; $972,000/1 yr.
--TE Nate Jackson: UFA; $2M/2 yrs, SB unknown. --CB Karl Paymah: Potential RFA; $972,000/1 yr.
--OT Erik Pears: Potential ERFA; terms unknown.
--FB Cecil Sapp: UFA; $645,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB; 2008 cap: $485,000.

PLAYERS LOST
--Jason Elam: UFA; signed with Falcons.
--LB Ian Gold (released).
--LB Warrick Holdman (released).
--OT Matt Lepsis (retired).
--C Chris Myers: RFA; traded Texans.
--WR Javon Walker (released).



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