There is some depth, however. In the wake of Marshall holding out of a mandatory minicamp, the team signed veteran Brandon Lloyd.
Without Marshall, the apparent top receiver would be Eddie Royal. A second-round pick last year, Royal quickly moved into the starting lineup and had a very good rookie season. He had 91 catches, 980 yards and five touchdowns, all records for a Broncos rookie receiver. He doesn't have prototypical size for a No. 1 outside receiver, but he can make plays.
Denver also has holdover veterans like Brandon Stokley, a reliable slot receiver, and Chad Jackson, who has a lot of physical ability. Kenny McKinley, a rookie fifth-round pick, would also have the chance to quickly work into the rotation.
McDaniels has also shown a fondness for tight end Tony Scheffler. The Patriots didn't use their tight ends much with McDaniels calling plays, but Scheffler has lined up in many different spots and seems poised to be a big part of the passing game.
Denver also could use a run-heavy attack. The Broncos have three tailbacks -- LaMont Jordan, Correll Buckhalter and Knowshon Moreno -- all capable of being effective. Denver also has a stellar offensive line returning intact from last year.
The Broncos are still likely to spread the field with receivers, because that's what McDaniels did often in New England. Kyle Orton will be the quarterback throwing the ball to those receivers, whether the group includes Marshall or not. Orton was named the Broncos' starting quarterback.
After a few quiet weeks -- a rarity since Josh McDaniels took over as head coach -- the Denver Broncos found themselves in another full-fledged personnel controversy.
Receiver Brandon Marshall wants out.
Earlier this offseason, quarterback Jay Cutler forced his way out of Denver by demanding a trade. He was dealt to Chicago.
The Broncos' situation with Marshall is different, but a major problem nonetheless. Marshall stayed away from the team's mandatory minicamp, upset with his own contract and a hip injury that wasn't diagnosed properly last season. He had surgery this offseason and is still recovering while mostly rehabbing at his Orlando, Fla., home.
A meeting with team officials, including owner Pat Bowlen, led to the trade request. Marshall posted on his blog that he was ready to move on.
"It's hard leaving an organization ran by one of the best owners in all of sports, and someone who's been there for me through my ups and downs," Marshall's blog said.
The Broncos have a decision to make. Marshall has one year left on his contract, with a base salary of about $2.2 million. Marshall would be a restricted free agent after this season. He would be fined every day he holds out of training camp, if he chooses to do so.
McDaniels has preached team over individuals, especially in the wake of the Cutler trade. Also trading Marshall when he asks out could be bad precedent for the new regime. The team also needs playmakers, and Marshall had more than 100 catches each of the last two seasons.
Giving Marshall a new contract might also not send the right message, or be in the best interest of the team. Marshall has dealt with some off-field incidents, which led to a one-game suspension by the NFL last season. The Broncos did send a message by extending center Casey Wiegmann's contract. Wiegmann was unhappy with his contract but showed up to all offseason training activities.
Because Marshall doesn't have much leverage, the Broncos don't have to trade him if they don't get the right offer. The Broncos moved quickly to trade Cutler a couple of months ago after Cutler refused to return messages. The team doesn't seem to have the same kind of urgency to move Marshall.
--The Broncos didn't wait until training camp to name a starting quarterback, pegging Kyle Orton before the team's mandatory minicamp was over. The move was no surprise, considering Orton has a longer history of NFL success than Chris Simms, and he was a key to the trade that sent Jay Cutler to Chicago.
Orton has 5,319 yards in his 33 career starts, all with Chicago. He has a 21-12 record as a starter.
--Linebacker Boss Bailey, who had microfracture surgery last year, was released by the team. Bailey would have fit in the mix with the Broncos' outside linebackers in their new 3-4 scheme, but the team will move on without him. Darrell Reid, Robert Ayers, Elvis Dumervil and Tim Crowder were the top outside linebackers at the team's most recent minicamp.
--Center Casey Wiegmann was given a raise and a contract extension. The 2008 Pro Bowler wasn't happy with his contract, which had only one year remaining on it. His deal was extended through 2010. Wiegmann had expressed recently that it would have been difficult for him to show up to training camp without a new extension.
--Broncos center Blake Schlueter signed a contract, the first of Denver's draft picks to sign a deal. Schlueter was a seventh-round pick. The Broncos drafted 10 players in April.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The hardest thing was hearing Mr. B (Broncos owner Pat Bowlen) wish me luck in the future, but we both came to the conclusion that this is probably the best thing for me to grow on and off the field." -- Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall, from his blog, concerning his trade request.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered)
--RB Tatum Bell (not tendered as UFA June 1).
--DE Ebenezer Ekuban (not tendered as UFA June 1).
--RB Andre Hall (not tendered as ERFA).
--WR Darrell Jackson (not tendered as UFA June 1).
--C Tom Nalen (not tendered as UFA June 1).
--RB Michael Pittman (not tendered as UFA June 1).
--WR Edell Shepherd (not tendered as UFA June 1).
--LB Nate Webster (not tendered as UFA June 1).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED
--C Blake Schlueter (7/225): Terms unknown. PLAYERS RE-SIGNED
--DL Kenny Peterson: UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--TE Jeb Putzier: UFA; 1 yr, terms 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.
--OT Brandon Gorin: UFA Rams; terms unknown.
--LB Nick Greisen: FA Ravens; terms unknown.
--S Renaldo Hill: UFA Dolphins; $10M/4 yrs, $3M guaranteed.
--P Dirk Johnson: FA Redskins; terms unknown.
--RB LaMont Jordan: UFA Patriots; $2.5M/2 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--WR Brandon Lloyd: Not tendered as UFA by Bears; terms unknown.
--OG Matt McChesney: FA Dolphins; terms unknown.
--QB Kyle Orton (trade Bears).
--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.
--RB Darius Walker: FA; terms unknown.
--OG Scott Young: UFA Browns; terms unknown (subsequently retired).
--RB Anthony Alridge (released).
--LB Boss Bailey (released/failed physical).
--TE Adam Bergen (released).
--CB Dre' Bly (released).
--QB Jay Cutler (traded Bears).
--DE John Engelberger (released).
--LB Louis Green (released).
--QB Darrell Hackney (released).
--RB Alex Haynes (released).
--TE Nate Jackson (released).
--S Herana-Daze Jones (released).
--LB Niko Koutouvides (released).
--LS Mike Leach (released).
--S Marquand Manuel (released).
--S Marlon McCree: Not tendered as UFA/Jaguars; terms unknown.
--TE Chad Mustard (released).
--CB Karl Paymah: UFA Vikings; $1.55M/1 yr.
--OT Erik Pears: Not tendered as RFA/Raiders; terms unknown.
--FB Andrew Pinnock (released).
--RB P.J. Pope (released).
--QB Patrick Ramsey: UFA Titans; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DT Dewayne Robertson (released).
--WR Cliff Russell (released/failed physical).
--DT Josh Shaw (released).
--LB Jamie Winborn (released).
--RB Selvin Young (released/failed physical).
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