The Broncos journal returns for a special, offseason rendition after an active first week of free agency for general manager George Paton and head coach Sean Payton.
1. Denver’s 10-player haul – eight newcomers plus returning linebacker Alex Singleton and safety P.J. Locke – totals right about $235 million in maximum contract value. NFL contracts, of course, aren’t fully guaranteed, but that’s the biggest total value number in the league so far. They’ve given out more than $137 million in total guarantees as well.
2. So what comes next? Well, the Broncos are still looking for depth on the offensive line and could add in the secondary, too. Mostly, any further additions in free agency are going to be about roster depth rather than big splashes. After all, Denver started with around $33 million in salary cap space a week ago and now is likely down closer to the $5 million-$7 million range.
3. One bigger addition that would make sense for several reasons is Philadelphia safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson. Not to say the Broncos can or will make it happen, but they have a free agent departure of their own – Kareem Jackson – and Gardner-Johnson blossomed early in his career in New Orleans under Payton.
4. Related: Caden Sterns will be one of the more interesting young players on Denver’s roster this spring and summer, particularly if the Broncos don’t add an experienced player like Gardner-Johnson. Sterns turned heads during Justin Simmons’ early season injured reserve stint with a quad injury, but then promptly went on injured reserve with a season-ending hip injury himself as soon as Simmons returned. Are Simmons, Sterns, P.J. Locke and Delarrin Turner-Yell essentially enough for the Broncos in the back end?
5. Since the NFL Combine, the possibility of Denver trading a receiver has received increasing attention. What’s clear: The Broncos’ front office is receiving calls about the group. What’s less sure: Whether Denver trades any of them.
6. Denver certainly doesn’t have to deal a receiver. Jerry Jeudy would bring the biggest return but could be on the verge of really taking off. Tim Patrick and KJ Hamler are both coming off seasons mostly (entirely in Patrick’s case) lost to injury. Sutton might be the most logical trade candidate, but he wouldn’t command a big return. The Broncos are in the market for draft picks considering they only have five for the 2023 draft.
7. One thing working in Denver’s favor: The thin nature of the receiver group hitting free agency. Jacobi Meyers (Las Vegas), JuJu Smith-Schuster (New England) and Allen Lazard (New York Jets) have earned the biggest deals so far at $11 million per year. Teams looking for wideouts are at least wondering if perhaps a draft pick for one of the Broncos’ guys is a better bet.
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8. If the Broncos get an offer for a receiver that, like the Bradley Chubb deal, is “too good to pass up” in Paton and Payton’s estimation, they probably won’t.
9. Perhaps you’ve heard that quarterback Aaron Rodgers is going to, in all likelihood, eventually, play for the New York Jets in 2023. Green Bay and the Jets have yet to work out the trade details, but Rodgers will likely reunite with former Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett – now the Jets’ offensive coordinator – in the coming days or weeks.
10. That duo in a different universe perhaps could have ended up as the top pair in Denver last year. Instead, they’ll visit Empower Field this fall as part of a Jets/Broncos matchup that has early season primetime billing written all over it.
11. Here’s the list of quarterbacks set to visit Denver this fall: Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City), Justin Herbert (Chargers), Jimmy Garoppolo (Las Vegas), Jordan Love (Green Bay), Kirk Cousins (Minnesota), Deshaun Watson (Cleveland), Mac Jones (New England) and, well, whoever wins Washington’s job between Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett. Is it September yet?
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