Broncos Update Insider - 3/19

If Brady Quinn doesn't work out for the Broncos, it will be a low risk trade for the team. But if Quinn can regain the form that made him a first-round pick, Denver might have cheaply found its quarterback of the future.

The Broncos sent running back Peyton Hillis, a 2010 sixth-round pick and a conditional 2011 pick to Cleveland for Quinn. Hillis was Denver's leading rusher in 2008 but was never in the plans of the current coaching staff. He got only 16 carries last season.

In Quinn, Denver gets a quarterback who might have just needed a fresh start.

"That's all behind me," Quinn said about Cleveland. "It's a great opportunity here in Denver."

The Broncos already have a quarterback, Kyle Orton, but he doesn't fit the classic mold of a franchise quarterback. Still, he should remain the starter despite Quinn being on the roster.

Quinn didn't want to address the chances of him competing with Orton for the starting spot, aside from admitting all quarterbacks want to play.

"The biggest thing is just being grateful for the opportunity and getting to know your teammates and getting down the offense and getting to know people within the organization," Quinn said. "That's my biggest focus right now. All that stuff will take care of itself in the future."

Quinn hasn't done much yet to fulfill the promise he showed at Notre Dame. In four of his last six starts for the Browns, he failed to throw for more than 100 yards. Overall, he has 12 NFL starts, and just 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

The Broncos' system might suit him. There's not a huge emphasis on downfield passing, which has never been Quinn's strong suit. Also, Broncos coach Josh McDaniels takes a hands-on approach with his quarterbacks, stressing fundamental improvement.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The conviction of Willie Clark in the murder of Darrent Williams on March 11 brought some closure to the Broncos organization. Williams was shot and killed on Jan. 1, 2007.

"Nothing can ever bring Darrent Williams back or ease the suffering for (his mother) Rosalind and her grandchildren," Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said in a statement. "But after three long years, it is very gratifying to see closure brought to this case. This process has been extremely difficult for the Williams family, his friends and teammates, this community, and the entire Denver Broncos organization.

--The Broncos released defensive end J'Vonne Parker. Parker had a chance to be a part of the rotation last year but suffered a season-ending knee injury in training camp.

--Last training camp the Broncos traded with New England for defensive end Le Kevin Smith. Smith was slowed a bit by a knee injury in training camp but rebounded to be a part of the defensive line rotation. He wasn't tendered as a restricted free agent, but was re-signed by the team. He will likely provide line depth again.

--Another week passed without another team signing receiver Brandon Marshall to an offer sheet. The only visit he has taken was with Seattle on the second day of free agency. Marshall's situation might not be resolved until the days before the draft.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm going to work as hard as I can to lead guys on this team and be there for them in whatever way I can." - New Broncos quarterback Brady Quinn.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

OFFSEASON UPDATE

One thing coach Josh McDaniels obviously believes in is size along the lines.

Last year, he inherited an offensive line that was undersized because that's what worked best in Mike Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme. The Broncos wanted to move in a different direction. Center Casey Wiegmann was cut. Guard Ben Hamilton is very unlikely to return as a free agent. Offensive line coach Rick Dennison and running backs coach Bobby Turner, who taught the zone scheme for years under Shanahan, both moved on.

The team will try to get bigger on the offensive line as the offseason progresses. The Broncos have already made that change on the defensive line.

Justin Bannan, formerly of the Ravens, was signed on the first day of free agency. Jamal Williams was released by the Chargers and quickly picked up to play nose tackle for the Broncos. The same day Williams was signed, the Broncos added defensive end Jarvis Green of the Patriots. Those moves, along with the signing of cornerback Nathan Jones and a trade for quarterback Brady Quinn, are the major moves the Broncos have made to improve.

McDaniels has preached often that he wants a smart and physical team. With the new additions, the Broncos should be more physical along the lines this season. There could be many more moves to bring in bigger players as the offseason goes on, and in the draft. The other major issue of the offseason is with receiver Brandon Marshall, who is a restricted free agent but hasn't gotten any solid offers. Receiver would become a huge need if he goes to another team.

TEAM NEEDS

1. Receiver: Denver is curious to see how the Brandon Marshall situation is resolved. The Pro Bowl receiver can still be had for a first-round pick as a restricted free agent. That would leave the Broncos without a surefire No. 1 receiver.

2. Center: Casey Wiegmann, released by the Broncos, signed with the Chiefs. Denver is still looking for Wiegmann's replacement, a process that might last until the draft.

3. Guard: The Broncos' need at guard lessens if Russ Hochstein's recovery from a season-ending knee injury goes smoothly. He started at left guard last year and the Broncos could use him as a starter there again, unless he is forced into the role of center.

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--P Mitch Berger was a midseason signee who had an up-and-down year. With the late-season addition of Britton Colquitt, don't expect Berger back.

--S Vernon Fox added some depth on special teams late in the year. He could return for camp. --OT Brandon Gorin gave the Broncos some experience at tackle but was not the primary backup at the position. Denver could look elsewhere.
--LB Nick Greisen missed all of last season with a knee injury, and his health could determine his future.
--G Ben Hamilton was benched last season, and as a better fit in a zone-blocking scheme, is unlikely to return.
--DE Vonnie Holliday was a pleasant surprise as an addition right before the season started and would seem like a good bet to return for another year.
--CB Ty Law played well after being picked up during the season but did deal with some injuries and is near the end of his career. If he is re-signed, it's a sign the Broncos don't have much faith in 2009 second-round pick Alphonso Smith.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (*indicates restricted because of uncapped year)
--*OLB Elvis Dumervil (tendered at $3.168M with first- and third-round picks as compensation) should be a high priority for the Broncos after leading the NFL in sacks.
--*G Chris Kuper (tendered at $2.521M with first-round pick as compensation) is a talented player but was brought in under the old regime. The Broncos will wait and see what kind of attention he gets in free agency.
--*WR Brandon Marshall (tendered at $2.521M with first-round pick as compensation) will probably be shopped in a trade after a tumultuous 2009 season.
--*QB Kyle Orton (tendered at $2.621M with first-round pick as compensation) appears to be penciled in as the Broncos' starting quarterback for another season, but the question is whether the team wants to sign him long term.
--*TE Tony Scheffler (tendered at $1.176M with second-round pick as compensation) appears to be on his way out of Denver after attitude problems led to him being deactivated for the season finale.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED
--S Josh Barrett: ERFA; terms unknown.
--G Russ Hochstein: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Brandon Lloyd: UFA; terms unknown.
--K Matt Prater: ERFA; terms unknown.
--*DE Le Kevin Smith: Not tendered as RFA; terms unknown.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED
--RB J.J. Arrington: FA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DT Justin Bannan: UFA Ravens; $22M/5 yrs, $6.3M SB.
--DE Jarvis Green: UFA Patriots; $20M/4 yrs.
--CB Nate Jones: UFA Dolphins; $4.33M/4 yrs.
--QB Brady Quinn (trade Browns).
--NT Jamal Williams: FA Chargers; $16M/3 yrs, $7M guaranteed.

PLAYERS LOST
--LB Andra Davis (released).
--OG Mitch Erickson (released).
--FB Peyton Hillis (traded Browns).
--RB LaMont Jordan (released).
--DL J'Vonne Parker (released).
--DE Kenny Peterson (released).
--C Casey Wiegmann (released).



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