The Denver Broncos finished a Super Bowl run with the greatest offense in NFL history. Still, that wasn't enough to defeat, or even compete with, the top defense in the league, as the Seattle Seahawks easily won Super Bowl XLVIII, 43-8.
After a disappointing end to their season, the Broncos now face the task of adding enough pieces to the team to stay at the top of the AFC in 2014. Unsurprisingly, Mike Klis of the Denver Post has the defense penciled in as the area that the Broncos will need to upgrade in the offseason. Particularly, Klis believes the team should add defensive backs and inside linebackers.
The player that will draw the most attention as free agency approaches, though, will be running back Knowshon Moreno.
A first-round selection in the 2009 NFL Draft, Moreno had a solid rookie campaign, but followed it with three years that were plagued by injuries and poor production. Those struggles were halted in 2014 when Moreno broke out for his first 1,000-yard season and 10 rushing touchdowns to match.
On a team that has been historically known for its ability to find production out of running backs that struggle elsewhere, that type of production coupled with Moreno's injury history might scare the team away from a long-term deal for the player that was considered a bust by many just a year prior.
With Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman also on the roster, the Broncos have youth at the position in the event that they move on from Moreno. In a free agency class that will likely also feature players such as Maurice Jones-Drew, Chris Johnson and Darren McFadden, the Broncos could certainly find another veteran running back to add to the mix.
Where they lack in the category of young talent is on defense; they finished with the 22nd best scoring defense. The passing defense of the Broncos finished with the sixth-most passing yardage allowed and suffered some significant injuries during the year.
Starter Rahim Moore missed six regular season games and the entire postseason, while Chris Harris suffered an ACL tear in the playoffs and missed the Super Bowl. Future Champ Bailey was forced into the lineup, but with his 36th birthday coming in June, he's not the player he once was.
The best player in the Denver secondary was Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who has an expiring contract with the team after signing a one-year deal worth $5 million. While he has expressed interest in signing a long-term deal with the Broncos, there are no guarantees that a deal could get done.
With several young cornerbacks, including Alterraun Verner, Captain Munnerlyn and Vontae Davis, set to reach free agency, the Broncos may have to dip into the free agency pool again to help their secondary.
Free agency is scheduled to begin on March 11 when the contracts of eligible free agents are set to expire. The Broncos are estimated to have over $12 million in cap space to work with, according to Over The Cap.