OK, so one more dose of Musings so I can get some additional thoughts about free agent frenzy and how it will impact the Broncos.
1. I’ve already said my piece about Brock Osweiler, but at the price he came at, that’s just too much money. One thing we have to remember is that the Broncos didn’t want to get into a situation like the Ravens got into with Joe Flacco – and in his case, he had multiple seasons with multiple starts and multiple playoff trips. Even if Osweiler hadn’t been replaced with Peyton Manning at the end of the season, you just can’t give $18M average per year to a quarterback who would have had, at most, 10 starts, even if it led to a Super Bowl win.
We shall see what John Elway and company do for Plan B, but keep this in mind: Now that the Texans have signed Osweiler, they are out of play for drafting a quarterback. If the 49ers have no intention of keeping Kaepernick and will keep Blaine Gabbert, too, it makes no sense to use a first-round pick on a QB when you have other needs to address. So that’s two fewer teams who need to draft a QB early.
Furthermore, there’s no telling what might happen with Ryan Fitzpatrick or even Nick Foles, so the Broncos might find a passer who falls to them late in the first round who is worth consideration. I’d even be fine with Mark Sanchez (who the Eagles will most certainly cut after giving Chase Daniel a whopping $21M over three years). All is not lost at QB, because the Broncos have the core of their defense still in place and have done very well in drafting defensive players under Elway.
2. Remember as well that the Broncos now have cap space available to address other needs, such as extending other players or finding help elsewhere in free agency. As things currently stand, the Broncos will have around $12M in space after signing Donald Stephenson and extending any exclusive rights free agents (which I imagine is a formality, even if it hasn’t been announced yet). The Broncos should gain additional cap space once they get cap numbers for Ryan Clady and DeMarcus Ware reduced (and they’ll be released if they don’t agree to that).
Possibilities include extending C.J. Anderson and Brandon Marshall, which makes sense even after they got the RFA tenders. It sounds like the Broncos really want to keep Anderson and you would figure they’d see Marshall as a priority to keep, too.
And then there’s Von Miller. The Broncos now have more space this year and in the future to get him extended, and that’s not something Elway isn’t going to shrug his shoulders at. He knows exactly what he has in Miller and will pay him handsomely. I’ll get more to Miller in a minute and why he’s certain to get paid well.
3. Bear in mind that best free agency moves usually happen several days after the initial frenzy. The Broncos didn’t get notice from Peyton Manning until later in the period when he came to Denver in 2012, for example, but they found other players once things settled down. Emmanuel Sanders is a good example of being patient, too.
So don’t be surprised if the Broncos land a couple of players who take value deals because they couldn’t find offers that they expected or because they simply weren’t in demand. We’ve seen this play out before and I’m betting it happens again.
4. I was shocked to see the numbers for Olivier Vernon, who became the second-highest paid defensive player in the NFL. You thought Malik Jackson’s numbers were incredible, but Vernon got even more, and got it from a team that usually hasn’t been desperate in free agency. Sounds like Jerry Reese may have been given an ultimatum from the Giants.
The Texans spent big, too, and that’s something that’s generally uncharacteristic for them. It sounds like Rick Smith is betting the Texans just need the final pieces in place to make a deep playoff run. But only time will tell if that’s the case. We may not think much about Ryan Grigson, but Andrew Luck’s return alone will help the Colts, and don’t look now but the Jaguars should be much improved.
And that brings me back to Miller: After what Vernon got, it’s going to be hard for the Broncos to say that Miller shouldn’t be paid close to what Ndamukong Suh got. But I’m betting they’ll do it because they know exactly what they have in Miller and his sample size is overwhelming.
5. People may not always think this way, but I’ll repeat four words that I still believe: In Elway We Trust.
That’s all I have. I’ll leave it to Nick and anyone else to update everyone on whatever moves the Broncos make in the next couple of days. Should be interesting to see what develops.