2016 Broncos Season — The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of the Off Season So Far
When you're the defending Super Bowl champion, no one really wants to hear you whine about off-season woes. But, still, we're fans. And you're only as good as your next game. So, with a couple weeks of Free Agency in the books, here's a look at the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Broncos' off-season.
* Offensive Line Make Over — The Broncos may have won the Super Bowl, but they had some weaknesses. One of the major ones was the offensive line. It looks like in September only one starter from the Super Bowl — center Matt Paradis — will be on the line for the Broncos. But that might be a good thing. Signing Russell Okung away from the Seahawks was a great move, even better it appears to be a very cap friendly deal. Donald Stephenson is supposedly a good fit for the system, Max Garcia is developing and so, too, is Ty Sambraillo. Michael Schofield, who often looked out matched as a starter last season, can go back to being a swing tackle/guard and back up. And John Elway, as always, will continue to build in the draft.
* CJ Anderson was retained — There has been some debate about this because of what it cost Denver. But, really, the deal is front-loaded and cap friendly after year one, something the Broncos have done in previous contracts. In fact, after two years, CJ could be released with no dead money. But I like the signing because I believe in CJ Anderson. Last year the Broncos' line scuffled, and it often hurt the run game. CJ was injured going into the season, but after week six of the regular season he averaged 5.9 yards per carry. And that was while often not getting a starter's load of carries. By the time we hit the playoffs, it was clear Anderson was the best back. In the Super Bowl he went for 90 yards rushing and a TD and was just about the only thing working for the Broncos' offense. I believe in CJ and I believe he can be a big back for Denver going forward.
* Letting Brock Osweiler Walk — This might seem like a strange one since it left the Broncos without a quarterback after Peyton Manning retired. But hear me out. I watched Brock for four years, and I'm not convinced he will be a quality or even decent starter. He was up-and-down in his limited work last season, just as he's been whenever he played over the past four years. Brock is great when his primary read is open. But he struggles to come off the primary read, to read defenses, and lacks pocket presence. That's why he took so many sacks, and why he often looked bad in the second half. In fact, had Demaryius Thomas and other receivers not turned several dump off passes into big plays, Brock's stats would have looked even worse. That being said, i would have been happy for Denver to bring him back and see if he could develop — at the right price. That's the catch, the price. I wouldn't have gone over $10 million a year. When Sam Bradford signed a deal at $18 million per year, it became clear that the market had been set higher. I don't value Osweiler at $18 million a year, and wisely John Elway didn't either.
* Plenty of Draft Stock — With three compensatory picks, the Broncos now have 10 picks heading into the draft in April. That's great for Elway, who like the best team architects has been very successful building in the draft.
* A Lot of Experience is Gone —The salary cap era means teams can't stock pile players and build dynasties. The Broncos, like so many contenders, have seen pieces leave for more lucrative deals elsewhere the past few seasons. Losing Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan, key defensive starters, and David Bruton, Jr., the Broncos' special teams captain, hurts. It's disappointing to see these players leave, and they will be missed. The Broncos are blessed with depth, but the defense will take some time to get new faces on track. More faces will surely follow as the Broncos have a lot of free agents and only so much money available.
* Trading For Mark Sanchez — There's no other way to put it, Denver's trade for Mark Sanchez was ugly when it happened, and it's still a little ugly, if we've being honest. Beginning a title defense with a player most famous for the Butt Fumble isn't ideal. But Sanchez is in the final year of a cap-friendly deal, so he'll either be a place holder or a veteran back up for insurance. And it's not as bleak as one my think. Most remember Sanchez' disastrous final act with the New York Jets. But in his first season with the Eagles, in nine games played under the tutelage for Chip Kelley, Sanchez completed 64 percent of his passes for more than 2,400 yards and 14 TDs. In 10 games for the Broncos last season, Peyton Manning completed just under 60 percent of his passes for 2,249 yards, nine touchdowns and 17 INTs. So, what I'm saying is, it could be worse. I'm still not thrilled, but Sanchez could have decent numbers under strong offensive tutelage.