With the NFL free agency opening up tomorrow, the Denver Broncos are expected to make another huge splash in the market. Denver has an estimated $24.9 million in salary cap space to spend on top free agent choices such as Jairus Byrd and Michael Bennett or resign key players from last season’s Super Bowl run like Knowshon Moreno, Eric Decker, Zane Beadles and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
The Denver Broncos have 18 unrestricted free agents from last year’s team. Resigning every player from the Broncos’ Super Bowl team is highly unlikely to happen. The Broncos’ biggest needs are on defense, especially since defensive captains Champ Bailey released and Wesley Woodyard is an unrestricted free agent.
When the free agent market opens up at 4 p.m. EST tomorrow, the Denver Broncos will court some of the NFL’s best available free agents while they hope to not let some of their key players from last year go without a fight. Here is a hypothetical look of the likelihood of the Broncos resigning their top unrestricted free agents:
Eric Decker, wide receiver
Decker is the best available option for all free agent wide receivers this year. Many teams are in need of a wide receiver and Decker is due for a huge payday. He stated last month that his decision won’t be based solely on money and would “welcome a call from the Broncos,” but who knows if the Denver front office will even make that call.
Manning’s other top throwing targets Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas have expiring contracts next season; considerably more important players worth resigning. The Broncos will more than likely let Decker walk, considering they could land Hakeem Nicks or Jeremy Maclin for half the cost.
Knowshon Moreno, running back
Moreno made the most of his contract year by putting up 1,586 all-purpose yards and 13 total touchdowns for the Broncos in the regular season. Like Decker, Knowshon is one of the best available free agents at his position with a giant payday looming. Resigning in Denver looks like a 50/50 possibility, as the Broncos may as well install second-year running back Montee Ball as their featured back. Moreno joins a free agent running back class of Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren McFadden, Darren Sproles and Ben Tate.
Zane Beadles, guard
Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos offense broke all kinds of records last season; the offensive line deserves much of the credit for this. Despite a slew of injuries including Dan Koppen and Ryan Clady, Beadles and the Broncos offensive line allowed a league-low 20 sacks. At only 27-years-old, it wouldn’t make sense for Denver to not resign Beadles. If they could get him to sign a back-loaded deal, the Broncos could save a ton of cap space to offer other top free agent choices. In my humble opinion, Beadles is a must-have if the Broncos want to make another run to the Super Bowl.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, cornerback
With Champ Bailey gone, the Broncos must place their focus on improving the defense, especially their secondary. Rodgers-Cromartie was one of the best defensive backs for the Broncos last season and hopes to remain in Denver despite a tough loss to the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
The free agent options are plentiful for the Broncos to revamp last year’s defense. Rodgers-Cromartie will be 28 at the start of the season. Signing a one-year deal last season, he proved his worth in his first year with the Broncos. SI expects DRC to resign with Denver; the Broncos would find it wise to sign restricted free agent Chris Harris Jr. alongside Rodgers-Cromartie.
Wesley Woodyard, linebacker
If Woodyard walks, there aren’t many options in the free agent market for the Broncos to replace him. Woodyard has garnered interest from the rest of the NFL, most notably the Dallas Cowboys. Denver would find it wise to resign their defensive captain while other areas of the defense require more of an overhaul.
Mike Adams, safety
If the Broncos decide to resign Mike Adams, they can do so for pennies on the dollar. Because the other available safeties in the free agency such as T.J. Ward, Jairus Byrd, Donte Whitner and Antoine Bethea, Adams’ future in Denver is uncertain. The combination of high-profile safeties and Broncos’ cap space indicates Denver will spend big bucks on one or more big name free agents; with an already weak secondary, the Broncos are in need of a new safety.
Trindon Holliday, kick/punt returner
Holliday enters the free agency as an Exclusive Rights Free Agent, meaning the Broncos can make a tender offer before the market officially opens. If Denver wanted him back, they would have made the offer by now. It looks like Holliday is on his way out of the Mile High City.
Dan Koppen, center
Denver’s Pro-Bowl center tore his ACL in training camp, ending his 2013 season before it even started. Manny Ramirez became the starting center for the Broncos, playing exceedingly well for the whole season for the exception of the Super Bowl. Koppen is aging and Ramirez can only improve, the veteran Koppen is most likely out the door.