Your new RB1 | Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images
Did Elway do enough to close the gap with Kansas City?
The Broncos earned rave reviews for their trade for Jurrell Casey last week. The recent trade for A.J. Bouye and his $13.5 million salary looks far better when you consider what players like Trae Waynes and James Bradberry just made on the open market. Even Jeff Driskel makes some sense for the price Elway paid him.
What remains an open question is if the Broncos did enough to contend in the AFC West. All four teams were active, and if you weren’t paying attention it may have been hard to keep up. Let’s take a look at each.
+ RT Bryan Bulaga
+ DL Linval Joseph
+ CB Chris Harris Jr.
+G Trai Turner (Trade)
Finishing in the cellar of the West last year helped bring the Philip Rivers era to a unceremonious close, but Anthony Lynn and Tom Telesco came into last season with Super Bowl aspirations and so this year was more of a reboot than a complete overhaul. They traded Russell Okung for Trai Turner in one of the more lopsided deals of the offseason. All three of the major free agents signed are on the wrong side of 30, but all three are big time players if they can fight off Father time.
The moves did not come without a cost though. On top of Rivers running to Indianapolis, the Chargers lost Adrian Phillips, Thomas Davis, and Derek Watt. At the time I write this they also have let 17 players walk into unrestricted free agency, including Melvin Gordon.
With the 6th overall pick in the NFL Draft, the Chargers could go a number of directions. While the plan sounds like Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, someone like Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, or Jordan Love may be too enticing to pass up. If Lynn isn’t sold on 2019 third rounder Trey Pipkins at left tackle, a player like Mekhi Becton or Tristan Wirfs could make sense. Lastly, Jeffrey Okudah, Isaiah Simmons, Javon Kinlaw, or Derrick Brown could be added to what’s shaping up to be a nasty defense.
Whether they roll with Tyrod, Draft a QB in the 2nd, or sign a Cam Newton, I now want nothing more this offseason than for the Chargers to draft Jeffrey Okudah at #6 and play Dime D all season long.
Good God that could be awesome. pic.twitter.com/RfQfz4wuQP
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) March 20, 2020
+ LB Cory Littleton
+ ED Carl Nassib
+ LB Nick Kwiatkoski
+ SS Jeff Heath
+ TE Jason Witten
+ CB Eli Apple
+ DL Maliek Collins
+ QB Marcus Mariota
I hate how much I like what Mayock did in free agency. Before things even began they extended Richie Incognito, who quietly had one of the best seasons of any interior offensive lineman last year. Then they went out and signed Kwiatkoski to one of the best deals in all of free agency. While Littleton is expensive, he’s also a very good coverage player and does make sense for Paul Guenther’s defense. Same for Apple and Collins. Marcus Mariota improves their backup spot, and while Gruden’s a bit of a running joke, he’s also one of the better offensive minds in the league.
The addition of Witten was a bit of a head scratcher considering the TE depth on the Raiders, and Nassib may have been a bit of an overpay. Neither is egregiously bad though considering Gruden’s affinity for three tight end sets in 2019 and the importance of edge rushing in the modern NFL. Most of the Raiders free agent losses were depth pieces and could be upgraded upon.
Free agency has freed Mayock up to chase after the best available player in the upcoming draft, and with word coming down that they’ll bypass Robby Anderson one of their two first rounders will almost surely be a receiver.
As far as Robby Anderson, the #Raiders liked him but decided to focus on defense in FA. As Mayock said, there are 25 or so WRs in the draft with a top-3 round grade.
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) March 19, 2020
+ iOL Graham Glasgow
+ RB Melvin Gordon
+ QB Jeff Driskell
+ DL Jurrell Casey (Trade)
+ CB A.J. Bouye (Trade)
As tends to be the case following John Elway, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster. The opening day was celebrated when the Duke brought in Glasgow to help solidify the offensive line. Day two of free agency saw little movement outside of an underwhelming QB2 to hopefully improve under Pat Shurmur. There were complaints in Broncos’ Country about how quiet free agency was going on Day three until the Titans traded their 5-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle for a 7th round pick. To top it off, Denver used most of the money Joe Flacco’s release provided to sign a division rival’s starting running back.
Add on top of these moves the 4th round pick for A.J. Bouye, retaining Justin Simmons, Mike Purcell, Elijah Wilkinson, and De’Vante Bausby, and it’s been an eventful spring. As I write this almost 20 players are unrestricted free agents, including Will Parks, Shelby Harris, and Derek Wolfe.
With most of the Broncos cap tied up now their attention will all but certainly move to the draft. Elway’s infatuation with Henry Ruggs is one of the worst kept secrets in draft circles, so don’t be surprised if Denver does not finish with all of their 10 selections.
— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) March 20, 2020
+ QB Chad Henne
You’d be forgiven if you fell asleep watching the Chiefs navigate through free agency. Since applying the franchise tag to Chris Jones, Andy Reid has mostly watched other teams sign players in an attempt to best his roster. So far KC has lost Kendall Fuller to Washington, Stefen Wisniewski to Pittsburgh, and Emmanuel Ogbah to Miami. Due to their tight cap situation, it looks unlikely they’ll resign many (or perhaps any) of their unrestricted free agents.
We have signed QB Chad Henne. pic.twitter.com/OLWzryPbot
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) March 19, 2020