Broncos Update Insider - 3/27

The Broncos' running back situation didn't get much clearer through the first weeks of free agency. If anything, the situation is more muddled than before.

Denver came into the offseason looking for new blood at tailback after most of last year's tailbacks ended up on injured reserve. Correll Buckhalter, J.J. Arrington and LaMont Jordan were signed in free agency.

The signings indicated that no one tailback would be counted on heavily in 2009. Buckhalter has never rushed for more than 600 yards in a season, Arrington has never rushed for more than 400 yards and Jordan's lone season over 600 yards was when he rushed for 1,025 in 2005.

All three could see time, similar to New England's tailback rotation when new Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels was the Patriots' offensive coordinator.

Over the last two seasons, New England had only two backs break 700 yards in a season - Laurence Maroney had 835 yards in 2007 and Sammy Morris had 727 yards last year.

The three signees could all fit a role in the offense. Buckhalter and Jordan are bigger backs that can run between the tackles. Jordan has an advantage of being in McDaniels' system last year with New England. Buckhalter has averaged 4.5 yards per carry in his injury-plagued career, and is also a capable receiver out of the backfield.

Arrington's role could be similar to Kevin Faulk's in New England. He never established himself as an every-down back with the Cardinals despite being drafted in the second round. However, last season he played better in a third-down role. He averaged six yards on 31 carries and caught 29 passes.

The Broncos will also have some holdovers at tailback that could factor into the running game, including Ryan Torain, Selvin Young and Peyton Hillis. All three of them ended last season on injured reserve.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Broncos were picked to host one of the three annual NFL Thanksgiving games. Denver will play the New York Giants at Invesco Field at 6:20 p.m. Mountain time on Nov. 26.

The Broncos played back-to-back Thanksgiving games earlier this decade, both on the road. They played at Dallas and at Kansas City in consecutive years, going 1-1.

--The last time Denver hosted a Thanksgiving game was 1963. That was two stadiums ago - the Broncos played in Bears Stadium then, the precursor to Mile High Stadium and Invesco Field - and lost to Oakland.

The Broncos have been trying to host the Thanksgiving game since the third game was introduced in 2006. The Broncos played at Kansas City in that first Thanksgiving game on NFL Network.

--The Broncos were among the most active teams in free agency over the first couple weeks, but got all their shopping done early. Since March 13 the team has made only one free agent move, and that was re-signing tight end Jeb Putzier.

--There have been conflicting reports on whether quarterback Jay Cutler will be at the first organized team activity when the Broncos hold a minicamp April 17-19. Cutler has not been attending offseason workouts. The quarterback and coaching staff have been at odds most of the offseason.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's our quarterback. Period." -- Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, talking about Jay Cutler to the NFL Network.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Broncos have obviously turned their attention towards the draft. They haven't signed a free agent from another team in a couple of weeks after being very active right after free agency started.

The Broncos still have some holes to fill, especially on defense, and will have to find a couple of immediate contributors in the draft.

TEAM NEEDS/OFFSEASON STRATEGY

The most important issue for the team right now is making sure quarterback Jay Cutler can co-exist with coach Josh McDaniels. If the Broncos think the situation can't be fixed, their entire plan going into the draft will presumably change.

If they pick up a high draft pick for Cutler, they'll need to switch gears in their draft preparations. How they use that pick would also depend on whether a veteran replacement is acquired in any trade. None of those issues are of an immediate concern - the Broncos have said they want Cutler as their quarterback and aren't entertaining trade offers.

TEAM NEEDS
1. Defensive line: The Broncos won't find any long-term solutions for their line among the remaining free agents. They need tackles and ends and will likely draft some of each.

2. Linebacker: The team's situation at linebacker is still in flux. Who the Broncos land in the draft will probably clear up who will be playing where once the season starts.

3. Cornerback: Unless the Broncos believe in youngsters Jack Williams or Josh Bell as future starters at the position, a draft pick could be used to build immediate depth for nickel and dime packages and to groom a long-term answer at either starting cornerback spot.

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--RB Tatum Bell finished the season with a good game against San Diego, but with a lot of tailbacks on the roster he is no sure bet to return.
--DE Ebenezer Ekuban played well in 2008 but it remains to be seen how he fits into the new staff's plans.
--WR Darrell Jackson didn't contribute much in 2008 and appears unlikely to return.
--S Marlon McCree didn't play in the final eight games of the season, remaining inactive even after recovering from a high ankle sprain. He doesn't appear to be in Denver's plans.
--C Tom Nalen is likely on his way to retirement after sitting out 2008 with a knee injury.
--RB Michael Pittman played pretty well before a neck injury sidelined him, but he said he feels good and wants to play in Denver again. The new coaching staff will make a decision whether to bring him back.
--QB Patrick Ramsey is a solid backup for Jay Cutler and despite finishing on injured reserve with an arm injury last year, could be re-signed.
--WR Edell Shepherd was out all last year with a knee injury.
--LB Nate Webster started last year and played well at times. The new staff will have to decide how he fits in their defense.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered)
--RB Andre Hall (not tendered as ERFA) has played well at times and should get a shot to make the team in training camp.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED
--DL Kenny Peterson: UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--TE Jeb Putzier: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED
--RB J.J. Arrington: UFA Cardinals; $10M/4 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--RB Correll Buckhalter: UFA Eagles; 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB Andra Davis: UFA Browns; $5M/2 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--S Brian Dawkins: UFA Eagles; $17M/5 yrs, $7.5M guaranteed; can void to $9.5M/2 yrs.
--DT Ronald Fields: UFA 49ers; $5M/2 yrs, SB unknown.
--WR Jabar Gaffney: UFA Patriots; $10M/4 yrs, $3M guaranteed.
--CB Andre' Goodman: UFA Dolphins; $25M/5 yrs, $10M guaranteed.
--S Renaldo Hill: UFA Dolphins; $10M/4 yrs, $3M guaranteed.
--RB LaMont Jordan: UFA Patriots; $2.5M/2 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--OG Matt McChesney: FA Dolphins; terms unknown.
--DT J'Vonne Parker: Not tendered as ERFA by Panthers; terms unknown.
--LS Lonie Paxton: UFA Patriots; $5.38M/5 yrs, $1M SB.
--DT Darrell Reid: UFA Colts; $6.8M/3 yrs, SB unknown.
--QB Chris Simms: UFA Titans; $6M/2 yrs, $1.5M SB; 2009 cap: $2.71M.
--OG Scott Young: UFA Browns; terms unknown.

PLAYERS LOST
--RB Anthony Alridge (released).
--CB Dre' Bly (released).
--DE John Engelberger (released).
--RB Alex Haynes (released).
--TE Nate Jackson (released).
--LB Niko Koutouvides (released).
--LS Mike Leach (released).
--S Marquand Manuel (released).
--TE Chad Mustard (released).
--CB Karl Paymah: UFA Vikings; $1.55M/1 yr.
--OT Erik Pears: Not tendered as RFA/Raiders; terms unknown.
--RB P.J. Pope (released).
--DT Dewayne Robertson (released).
--WR Cliff Russell (released/failed physical).
--DT Josh Shaw (released).
--LB Jamie Winborn (released).



Got something to say - Voice your opinion on any one of our
Broncos Update Community Forums










Mile High Huddle Top Stories