Denver Broncos--Monitoring Team Needs--Free Agency to the 2009 Draft

 Keeping track of a team's dynamic roster gain/loss throughout the offseason is one of the keys to understanding their draft day moves and choices.  Enter Monitoring Team Needs, an at-a-glance way of checking up on your team's latest roster flux, as we count down through Free Agency, and into the days before the 2009 Draft.

Below is a table that breaks down this roster flux, showing who has come and gone, as well as updating the neediest areas of the team and some of the top names that have a good chance of being available when they pick in the Draft.  Draft prospects are linked to their Mocking the Draft Profiles and any names or positions highlighted in bold should be considered either to be positions of particular need and emphasis, or players of particular relevance and interest to the team's situation.  Below the chart we will discuss some of the names and situations described, and as always, you can join in on the discussion in the comments.

See you below the fold!

DENVER BRONCOS

2008 Record and Rank:  8-8

2nd place

Team Needs Likely Draft Targets (rd)
NT, 3-4 DE, FS, ILB, RB, OLB, C/G

 ILB, Rey Maualuga, USC(1st)

3-4 DE, Evander Hood, Missouri (2nd-3rd)

Free Agents Acquired Current Free Agents Free Agents Lost/PlayersLost

WR, Jayson Foster (res/fut)

WR Matt Willis(res/fut)

OL Mitch Erickson(res/fut)

OT Clint Oldenburg (res/fut)

DL Matthias Askew(res/fut)

DL Ryan McBean(res/fut)

CB Rashod Moulton (res/fut)

TE Adam Bergen (res/fut)

G Matt McChesney (undisclosed)

 

QB, Patrick Ramsey UFA

RB Andre Hall ERFA

RB Michael Pittman UFA

WR Darrell Jackson UFA

DL Kenny Peterson UFA

LB Nate Webster UFA

WR Edell Shepherd UFA

RB Tatum Bell UFA

OL Erik Pears RFA

DL Ebeneezer Ekuban UFA

CB Karl Paymah UFA

FS Marlon McCree UFA

RB Anthony Alridge (cut)

RB PJ Pope (cut)

RB Alex Haynes (cut)

TE Chad Mustard (cut)

TE Nate Jackson (cut)

C Tom Nalen (retired)

DL John Engleberger (cut)

DT Dewayne Robertson (cut)

DT Josh Shaw (cut)

LB Niko Koutivides (cut)

WR Cliff Russell (cut)

LB Jamie Winborn (cut)

CB Dre Bly (cut)

SS Marquand Manuel (cut)

 

 

  • Of particular interest for the Broncos is the 'purge' of defensive players across the board.  Starters and backups alike have been let go, including last year's draft day trade, DT Dewayne Robertson, and CB Dre Bly.  All told, the moves are expected to net the team an additional $20-30 Million in cap space.
  • Like many teams throughout the league, Denver signed a number of unheralded players to Reserve/Future contracts, which basically means that the player is signed to be in training camp.  Typically these contracts are one year deals, and are often used to sign practice squad players.  Denver in particular targeted WR, defensive line, and offensive line depth, all positions that are expected to take hits in free agency and retirements this year, with all of Denver's WR depth being UFAs.
  • Reports indicate that outside of DT Kenny Peterson, none of the currently scheduled UFAs for Denver are going to be resigned, resulting in up to 11 more players, mostly on defense following the earlier 11 player purge.  A sure sign that Denver is rebuilding, since over half of those 22 players were starters in 2008.  Peterson, who has worked with new head coach Josh Mcdaniels before, has been approached about a new contract, with nothing currently projected.  Many of the rest were given permission already to look for new contracts elsewhere, and all have been notified that they will not be resigned before the start of Free Agency.
  • The money saved by the earlier cuts should push the Denver salary cap space into the $50million range, putting them in positon to do as they please in free agency this year.  However, word is that they will be signing up to 8 new players, mostly on defense, and that should take a serious bite out of that space.  With that in mind, the expectation is that they won't be pursuing any of the 'hot' commodities.  The names surfacing right now are  CB Ron Bartell, perhaps the most consistent defender on the Rams, and CB Bryant McFadden, form the Steelers.  Bartell will seem like the safer bet of the two, and early rumblings say that McFadden is looking for a big payday, almost guaranteeing that he won't be resigned by Pittsburgh, who sees hima sa replacable commodity.
  • Defensive Line Needs:  At the Combine McDaniels gave a firm indication that Denver would be running a 3-4 base defense, which immediately catapulted NT and 3-4 DE to the top of Denver's need list.  Dallas' Chris Canty, and NE's Mike Wright could be good additions at DE, where Denver currently has Marcus Thomas and Tim Crowder, but they would be only the beginning.  The draft looks weak for mid round and later DEs, but there are some halfway suitable projects towards the end of the draft.  One name to watch will be Mitch King, Iowa.  6'2 282, and he has the ability to sit down and anchor, has the team mentality needed at the position and the football intelligence prized by McDaniels' former regime in NE.  At DT Denver would love for BJ Raji to slip to them, but a more logical scenario would be for a guy like Ron Brace, Boston College, int he 2nd or 3rd, or a project like Terrance Taylor, Michigan, in the 5th or later.
  • Defensive Player first:  Every indication is that Denver will be looking defense with the first pick, and standout ILB Rey Maualuga should be in their sights at #12.  It is a high enough position of need right now not to be a luxury, and he is a great player with rare explosiveness.  
  • C/G need is being reduced quickly for Denver, with the signing of OG Matt McChesney(Dolphins), and with talk of reworking Pro Bowl C Casey Wiegmann's contract to ensure he stays at least two more years.  However, with impending retirements looming within the next two to three years for Wiegmann and G Ben Hamilton, it remains a concern to get additional starting quality depth lined up behind them.
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