Broncos Update Insider - 4/3

The Broncos didn't go crazy in the first few weeks of free agency, but they did make a few significant additions. In an unusual offseason, that's notable.

The uncapped year has not led to a spending frenzy, as many good players are still unsigned. The Broncos' restricted free agent crop is proof. Quarterback Kyle Orton, receiver Brandon Marshall and linebacker Elvis Dumervil have gotten little interest. Guard Chris Kuper has already signed his restricted free agent tender.

Defensive end Jarvis Green is happy he's not among the players looking for a job. He signed with the Broncos a little more than a week into free agency.

"Free agency is a little different this year with the uncapped year," Green said. "There's still a lot of good players on the market. The process was a lot slower than past years."

Green's past experience with Broncos coach Josh McDaniels in New England, and his knowledge of the Broncos' defensive scheme, certainly helped him get a job. In the long term, the overall lack of free-agent movement isn't a good sign.

"It's tough, because we're all in the same union," Green said. "We're all friends and we all have families at home. That's part of the business, and that's something that's going to happen, and everybody knew that."

Linebacker Mario Haggan is optimistic there won't be a work stoppage in 2011. He felt that eventually, the sides would come to an agreement.

"The players, I feel like we do want to play next year, I feel the owners (want to play) as well," Haggan said. "Everybody loses out when you don't play the season next year. Everybody has to take a stand early on to make it seem like, 'We're going to win this.' I think at the 12th hour something will happen and we'll be playing in '11."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Jason Elam, who kicked for the Broncos for 15 seasons before spending his final two seasons with Atlanta, signed a one-day contract so he could retire with Denver.

Elam is the franchise's all-time leader in games played and points scored.

"This is kind of a dream come true to be able to go out like this," Elam said.

--Linebacker Mario Haggan is an obvious candidate to move inside to replace Andra Davis. Haggan started all last season at outside linebacker, but has played inside linebacker most of his career and has the size for it. Haggan said he hasn't been told he will play inside linebacker this season.

"Do I think I can play it? Yes," Haggan said about inside linebacker. "Do I think I can play outside? Yes. Coaches know I can do both things, and maybe it's something they look at, but right now I'm preparing to be the outside linebacker."

--The Broncos are increasing the size in their front seven, which is one reason moving Mario Haggan from outside linebacker to the inside would make sense. Denver needs to shore up its run defense, and Haggan is one of its biggest linebackers.

"In the 3-4 defense the inside linebacker takes on the guards a lot, so you need a guy that can take the pounding for 16 weeks," Haggan said. "I have the body size and the range to be inside."

--The Broncos' preseason schedule will begin with a road game at Cincinnati between Aug. 12-16, home games against Detroit on Aug. 21 and Pittsburgh on Aug. 29, and they will finish the preseason at Minnesota on Sept. 2.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "When I think of all the games we won -- and Jason was a part of those wins -- it touches my heart, to tell you the truth. He's everything you want in a player." -- Broncos owner Pat Bowlen on retiring kicker Jason Elam.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Broncos haven't made a move in free agency in a few weeks, which is not unusual around the league. Denver could end up signing another player or two after it sees what the draft brings.

The Broncos still have needs to fill in the draft, and will have six selections. Their first pick is 11th overall. Denver could move down to add more picks and fill depth on the roster.

OFFSEASON STRATEGY

The Broncos' biggest needs might be center or receiver, but no player might be worth the 11th overall pick in those spots, especially if Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant is either gone or has slipped down their draft board because of character concerns.

Denver coach Josh McDaniels has said that he doesn't like drafting for need, so the Broncos could be quite unpredictable in the draft. They were last year when they selected running back Knowshon Moreno 12th overall.

TEAM NEEDS

1. Center: The Broncos don't have a great option to start at center right now. And the 11th pick seems high to select a center, so the Broncos might have to get creative.

2. Receiver: As long as Brandon Marshall is not with another team, the Broncos receiving corps won't be decimated. If he leaves, this position will be very thin.

3. Inside linebacker: The Broncos haven't added an inside linebacker despite cutting Andra Davis. This could be a big priority in the draft.

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.
--*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.
--*G Chris Kuper: RFA; (tendered at $2.521M with first-round pick as compensation); $2.521M/1 yr.
--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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