Update after Signing of Case Keenum

After the Keenum signing, I thought I’d try to give a quick overview of where I thought we stand. I had a long day at work so this will be shorter than I had hopped, and sorry for any errors or typos.

Cap Space:

After the Case Keenum Signing today, our effective cap space sits at 6.7 million for 2018, and 22 million for 2019.

2018 Cap space

Starting per OTC 29.9 million
Case Keenum (Net) -17.5 million
2018 Draft Class (Net) -5.7 million
Remaining 2018 Cap Space 6.7 million

2019 Cap Space

Starting Cap Space 59 million
Case Keenum -18 million
2018 Draft Class (gross) -14 million
Getting roster to 51 -5 million
Remaining 2019 cap space 22 million

Pending free agents next year are Matt Paradis, Shaq Barrett, Shane Ray, Bradley Roby, Domata Peko, Zach Kerr, Max Garcia, and several more. Possible cap casualties include Sanders: 10.25 million, Wolfe: 8.55 million, Watson: 6.1 million, CJ Anderson: 4.5 million, and a handful of others (I don’t know if DT’s 2019 salary is guaranteed or not, if not, cutting him would save 14 million).

Roster Needs:

Remaining Needs for free agency/draft:

Primary: RT, #3 CB, ILB, Slot WR, 3-4DE, KR/PR

Upgrade: TE, G, RB, QB

Depth/Future: NT, Edge, Outside WR, C

None: S, K, P, LS

Comparisons to past offseasons

I think it goes without saying, not every hole is going to be filled with a high round draft choice or a top tier free agent. With less than 7 million in cap space remaining, we very likely won’t even get a mid-round draft pick or bottom tier free agent at every need.

This is stark contrast to the off seasons following the 2012 season and the 2013 season, where we were coming off very good seasons where we had very few holes, and the ones we did have could be filled by top of the line free agents, both because we had plenty of cap space, and we attracted those free agents.

Here’s what we returned from the 2012 Season before the draft or free agency:

  • QB: Peyton Manning, Brock Osweiler
  • RB: Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman, Willis McGahee
  • WR: DT, Eric Decker, Andre Caldwell
  • TE: Joel Dreessen, Jacob Tamme, Julius Thomas, Virgil Green
  • OT: Ryan Clady, Orlando Franklin, Chris Clark
  • OG/C:Chris Kuper,  Zane Beadles,  Dan Kopen, JD Walton, Manny Ramirez (unknown),
  • DE: Elvis Dumervil, Robert Ayers, Malik Jackson
  • DT: Mitch Unrein, Derek Wolfe, Kevin Vickerson
  • LB: Von MIller, Danny Trevathan, Wesley Woodyard, DJ Williams,
  • DB: Champ Bailey, Chris Harris Jr, Tony Carter, Omar Bolden, David Bruton, Rahim Moore

That was a team that didn’t have many holes. Maybe a perceived deficit at WR3, DT,  ILB, and possibly TE but I’d argue much smaller than many of the holes we currently face.

For that reason, we were able to go out and sign WR Wes Welker, CB Dominique Rodgers Cromartie, OG Louis Vazquez, DT Terrance Knighton, ILB Paris Lenon and Stewart Bradley. Early In the draft we took DT Sly Williams and RB Montee Ball and a few others.

We did ultimately lose Dumervil to the fax fiasco, (who we replaced with Shawn Phillips), and DJ Williams, but we were able to fill all our holes with top tier free agents or early draft picks, and even added players to positions we didn’t have much need at. I could do a similar breakdown of the off-season following the 2013 season.

Even last year, I felt we addressed all the holes we had (OG with Leary, OT with Malik Jackson/Bolles, RB with Henderson and Charles, DL with Peko, DeMarcus Walker and Zach Kerr, WR3 with Carlos Henderson and McKenzie). TE and ILB were the only “holes” I felt we didn’t look to add something, and those holes were relatively small.  Obviously, not all those additions worked out, but an optimistic fan could have believed they would have.

Thoughts for next year:

Unfortunately, as I pointed out above the Broncos are a long way away from that. This year, we’re going to go into the season with question marks. That’s not to say we won’t be good, but we aren’t going to have an off-season that leaves fans with a warm and fuzzy feeling that we plugged every hole and added several nice to haves.

I feel I read comments from fans who seem to have that expectation.

This year, we may have to rely on Jake Butt, Jeff Heuerman, and Austin Traylor for our Tight End needs. Is there a chance that it leads to poor TE play again? Absolutely. But there’s also a chance one of those guys takes advantage and really shines in the role. Same thing with RB or ILB or other position groups. Of course, the Broncos will upgrade some of these positions, but it isn’t reasonable any more to expect upgrades at all of them.

To be competitive, the Broncos will need a lot of things to break their way. We’ll need better coaching, we’ll need better drafting, we’ll need better ST play, we’ll need Keenum to not regress, and we’ll need some young unproven guys to step up and exceed expectations. I don’t see any reason why those things can’t happen, but it’ll be a different road this year than it was in years past. Things can change quickly and it only takes one good draft or a few guys to come out of nowhere to catapult a franchise.

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Lifelong Broncos fan and current Engineer living and working in Denver.