Offseason Primers: Broncos Priorities And Suggested Salary Limits

Nick has already gone over a couple of times about the Broncos’ offseason needs and I wanted to update where I believe the Broncos’ priorities need to be when it comes to free agency, given that’s the first stop on the offseason path.

My purpose is to give people a general idea about who is available at what position and how much the Broncos should expect to commit to each position. People do need to bear in mind that certain positions will take a higher priority than others and that cap dollars need to be committed to those positions first, before you explore positions that are a lower priority.

I’ll start with where the Broncos are going to be with their cap space, assuming certain moves are made, though in one case, I will account for an alternative scenario. From there, we’ll talk about each position, in order of priority (again, with one exception based on a key decision the Broncos must make).
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BREAKING: Vance Joseph Named New Broncos Head Coach

UPDATE: 12:50 P.M. MST: John Elway makes it official.

And Mike Klis has more details.

Vance Joseph served as the defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins this past season. Previously, he was the defensive backs coach for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2014 and 2015. He had interviewed for the HC position in 2014 when Elway opted to hire Gary Kubiak. After the Broncos requested an interview with Joseph to be the defensive coordinator, the Bengals denied permission for an interview.

Joseph will be the Broncos’ first black head coach holding the position on a full-time basis. Eric Studesville was an interim head coach for four games in 2010.

Joseph played for the University of Colorado as a quarterback and running back, finishing his career with 454 yards passing and four touchdowns and rushing for 237 yards. He signed with the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent in 1995 and switched to defensive back, playing two seasons for the Jets and Indianapolis Colts.

His first coaching job was as the secondary coach for the University of Wyoming in 2002. He also coached the secondary at the University of Colorado and Bowling Green University. He joined the San Francisco 49ers as a secondary assistant in 2005, then was promoted to defensive backs coach, a position he shared with Johnnie Lynn until 2010. He then joined the Houston Texans as defensive backs coach from 2011 to 2013.

Andrew Mason shared this statement from Miami Dolphins head coach, and former Broncos offensive coordinator, Adam Gase about Joseph.

UPDATE: 12:57 P.M. MST: Joseph has two candidates in mind for offensive coordinator.

And it sounds like Broncos defensive backs coach Joe Woods will move up to defensive coordinator.

Midweek Musings: Life After Gary Kubiak

Hello, Bronco fans! We have an eventful week with Gary Kubiak retiring and the Broncos searching for a new coach, so there’s a lot of talk about who will take over and what the Broncos need the most. So let’s get to some of the things we should consider regarding the coaching and how it might affect the roster.

In the words of Ted Bartlett: “Ready… begin!”
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Which Teams Might Have Regime Changes?

While we know that the Denver Broncos will need to make some changes to get back to the playoffs next season, the one thing we can take comfort in is that we have a management structure that wants to do better each year, yet is able to get its work done without too much interference from ownership and doesn’t fall into the trap of believing that the glory days will return if they just keep doing what worked before.

That is not the case with many of the teams who have missed the playoffs this season for one reason or another. I wanted to examine some of those teams who are already in the process of making regime changes or who might be mentioned as one that is due for a change. My purpose is here to remind everyone about the roads you don’t want the Broncos to go down and that, while every team needs to evaluate where it’s at regardless of the season outcome, the last things you want to do is go to the far ends of the spectrum, one being “hit the panic button” and the other being “we’ve always done it this way.”
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Midweek Musings: More Thoughts Regarding Broncos Offseason

Obviously, we Bronco fans are disappointed that our favorite team will not go to the playoffs this year. Nick and I have each gone over some of the reasons why things didn’t go the Broncos’ way this season (see here and here) and what should be the focus this offseason (see here and here).

I wanted to go into more detail about the areas the Broncos should address this offseason and address a few points for everyone to remember as we work to address those needs.
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Analyzing The Broncos Roster And Offseason Priorities

While there are still two weeks left in the regular season, it doesn’t hurt to get an idea about where things stand with the current roster and a rough idea about what the Broncos need to do this offseason.

I will go over each position, including any practice squad players and those on injured reserve, and go over relevant status as warranted. I will include my own thoughts on what might be the best approach for the Broncos to make this offseason at each position.

Basic info: The Broncos have an estimated $30.7M in available cap space, but that number is based on an estimated cap of $166M. The cap may go higher than that, so the Broncos may have a little more room to work with. They have 37 players who are under contract for next season, nine players on the practice squad who will likely get futures contracts, nine players who will be exclusive rights free agents (ERFAs), three who will be restricted free agents (RFAs) and 11 players who will be unrestricted free agents (UFAs).
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Why You Can’t Always Count On Trades

I’m planning to get something up later in the week about where things stand with the current Broncos roster and what to consider about an offseason plan, but I wanted to get another topic out of the way first.

That deals with one of the means of acquiring players: Trades.

When one puts together an offseason game plan, you first need to ask yourself which pending unrestricted free agents of your own should be re-signed, which restricted free agents should be tendered and at what level (regarding exclusive rights FAs, they are almost always tendered because there’s no risk to do so) and which players must be cut for performance reasons, cap reasons or both. Once you have those in mind, you consider how to fill holes through, in order, the draft, free agency and trades.
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Midweek Musings: Broncos Philosophy Isn’t The Problem

In recent days, there’s been plenty of discussion about what the Broncos need to do down the stretch and whether or not Gary Kubiak isn’t being flexible enough with his offensive schemes.

Some of this seems to go back to the thought process surrounding coaches who strongly believe in their schemes but didn’t have success in recent years and that this must mean that a “scheme trumps talent” mindset doesn’t work. Then we hear about coaches who “adjust their schemes to fit talent” and see them win and we think that’s the answer to the Broncos’ problems.

I know somebody brought up a couple of weeks ago an article that our good friend Ted Bartlett wrote about differences between coaching philosophies, with those who believe “talent trumps scheme” and those who believe “scheme trumps talent.” I know Bartlett used the former to describe John Fox and the latter to describe Mike Shanahan and Josh McDaniels. It’s easy to say that because the latter two did not succeed in their most recent years as head coaches that “talent trumps scheme” doesn’t work, but I don’t believe that was Bartlett’s point. If it was, the likes of Bill Belichick and Andy Reid wouldn’t be having success.

Now, I know what some will say about Belichick and Reid, but the truth is they do subscribe to the “scheme trumps talent” philosophy. They are willing to adapt, but not in the ways you think they do. In order to understand the two philosophies, you need to take a deeper look at what they are really about and what they really require.
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Midweek Musings: A Weak Year For NFL MVP Candidates

I follow Scott Kacsmar on Twitter, who has debated with many people about who should or shouldn’t be the NFL’s Most Valuable Player this year. One observation he has made is that there aren’t any strong candidates for MVP.

Much of his debate surrounds those who argue that Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is an MVP candidate, which Kacsmar strongly disagrees with. One example:

Regardless of what you think about Carr’s MVP merits or Kacsmar’s thoughts, I concluded that Kacsmar has a valid point about this being a weak MVP race, something that isn’t the case with awards other than MVP. First, let’s review major awards other than MVP:
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We Know About The Broncos, But What About Their Opponents?

Everyone should be aware of that the Broncos need to win out to ensure themselves a spot in the playoffs. Everyone is aware by now of the weaknesses the Broncos have (mostly on offense). And everyone is aware that the Broncos are not likely to secure the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, even if it’s mathematically possible.

But while all is not perfect for the Broncos, nor is it perfect for the remaining four opponents on their schedule. Each of those opponents will pose a problem for the Broncos to some degree, but those opponents have problems that will affect them, too.

Let’s get the Broncos’ issues out of the way first: They still have issues at right tackle, their running back corps has thinned thanks to injuries, the starting QB has battled injuries, the backup QB still needs development before he becomes the starter, and the defense, while still one of the best units in the NFL, is no longer capable of making up for the offense’s inability to move the chains or of constantly holding off opponents who get good field position.

But we’ve discussed these issues many times over. Instead, let’s turn our attention to the opponents the Broncos will face in the coming weeks and examine what each of them has done well and the areas in which they have struggled – and, in particular, anything noteworthy as it pertains to their specific matchup against the Broncos.

We’ll go over them in order of when the Broncos play them.
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