The Broncos went from perhaps the worst safety situation in the NFL last season to a seven-time Pro Bowler who became a legend in Philadelphia for his inspired play. No move will be a bigger boost for the Broncos' defense this offseason.
"Brian Dawkins is a special, special person, and he is an even better player," Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said.
Dawkins should add some toughness to a defense that has struggled mightily to stop the run the past two seasons. His playmaking ability also will help the Broncos be more versatile show some different looks on defense.
Having Renaldo Hill to play the other safety position will also ease some pressure off Dawkins. Last season Denver couldn't find any reliable starters at either safety position, rotating many through the lineup with little success.
The Broncos' entire secondary, aside from cornerback Champ Bailey, has been turned over since the end of last season. Cornerback Dre Bly was released and Andre Goodman was signed to replace him. The veteran additions on the back end should help bring an instant improvement on defense.
Defensive problems are what kept the Broncos from the playoffs last season. If the offense can play like it did last year and players like Dawkins can upgrade the defense a bit, Denver could be a contender for a playoff berth this season.
"I know what they have on the offensive side of the ball, and I wanted to help bring something to the defensive side of the ball," Dawkins said.
--Denver decided to go with Chris Simms as its backup quarterback, signing the former Buccaneer and Titan to a two-year contract. Simms has some experience, and the backup quarterback spot might be more important than usual for the Broncos, considering the simmering problems between starter Jay Cutler and new coach Josh McDaniels.
--Now that J.J. Arrington is a Bronco - a contract snag delayed his signing early in free agency - his role seems rather clear. He started to excel as a third-down back with the Cardinals last year after flaming out as an every-down option.
Kevin Faulk was one of the best pass-catching backs in football for the Patriots under then-offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, now Denver's coach. Arrington will probably have a similar role for the Broncos.
--Defensive lineman Kenny Peterson might be the lone free agent retained by the Broncos. He re-signed with the team and could fit in the new 3-4 defense. Both Peterson and Broncos coach Josh McDaniels played for McKinley High School in Canton, Ohio.
--Defensive tackle J'Vonne Parker has bounced around the NFL, spending time with Carolina, Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas and Cleveland. He was signed to fit in with Denver's 3-4 defense. Parker has played 11 games in his career.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "As many as He (God) blesses me to play at a high level." -- Broncos safety Brian Dawkins on how many more years he can play at a high level.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
While the Broncos have spent money in the secondary, at running back and even some at linebacker to sign Andra Davis, most of the defensive line signings have been modest. The team recently re-signed Kenny Peterson and signed free agent J'Vonne Parker on the line.
Denver is apparently going to avoid spending a lot of money on free-agent defensive linemen and perhaps build up that position in the draft. The line is still the Broncos' biggest need.
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