I know this question is posed to you every offseason, so let me get it out of the way. With changes coming to the Dolphins, Jaguars and Titans uniforms in 2018, do you foresee the Broncos ever changing their jerseys?
-- Bob Jones
"Ever"? That's a broad timeframe, so, sure. I'm certain that at some point in the future there will at least be tweaks. Even enduring uniform designs like those of the Packers and Steelers, for example, have seen changes over the decades. In the 1990s, the Packers removed some sleeve stripes and the Steelers changed their number font. But at this time, no changes to the Broncos' overall uniform scheme are planned.
Mason's top 10 offensive line free agents
Andrew Mason lists his top 10 offensive line free agents for the 2018 offseason.
The Panthers invested heavily in their offensive line last year, signing left tackle Matt Kalil and re-signing guard Trai Turner to a four-year extension. That could leave little room for Norwell, who did not allow a sack in 2017, according to Pro Football Focus. (Ryan Kang/AP Images)
A product of Buena Vista High School in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, Solder could be set for the biggest payday of any offensive lineman on the market, given his experience and his background at a premium position (left tackle). A biceps injury cost him 12 games in 2015, but he has played at least 15 games in every other season of his career, and he played all 16 games in 2014, the year in which he battled testicular cancer. (Winslow Townson/AP Images)
Pugh's 2017 season ended seven games early because of a back problem that forced him to injured reserve, but it did not require surgery. Pugh can play left guard and right tackle, but over his first five seasons, left guard has proven to be his most effective spot. (Aaron M. Sprecher/AP Images)
After moving from guard back to his college position of center in 2015, he began emerging as one of the league's best young centers before being derailed by injuries, including a concussion that forced him to injured reserve last Nov. 4. Richburg's long-term trends still show promise; his penalty rates have steadily dropped over the course of his career, and he is a strong, quick and young center. (G. Newman Lowrance/AP Images)
Whoever signs Mewhort will be taking a roll of the dice on his knee issues. The five-year veteran was placed on injured reserve after five games last season and has missed 17 games in the past two campaigns, sidetracking what had been a promising start to his career. (Peter Read Miller/AP Images)
Berger is still effective, starting all 16 games for the Vikings last year. He turns 37 in May, but the 6-foot-5, 305-pounder could still be an effective one- or two-year option. He also has less wear and tear than most players his age would have, as he was a backup for much of his first decade in the NFL. (Kevin Terrell/AP Images)
New England has other options at right tackle, so the Patriots can afford to let Fleming go. After a solid season last year, he should find a steady starting job elsewhere. (Margaret Bowles/AP Images)
The Titans provided a soft landing spot for Kline after he was released by New England just before the start of the 2016 season, and he started all 32 games (including playoffs) in which he played for Tennessee. How well he fits new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur's scheme could determine whether he stays or moves on in free agency. (Gregg Trott/AP Images)
Slauson heads into the market after his 2017 season ended seven weeks in because of a torn biceps muscle. He had been working at left guard after starting all 16 games at center in 2016. He struggled at times before his injury last season, but he should get a chance to start in what would be his 10th season. (G. Newman Lowrance/AP Images)
Sullivan proved he could make it through a season healthy after battling injuries the previous two seasons, during which he started just one game. The 32-year-old Sullivan also helped provide a steadying influence for Jared Goff and could be a solid option for a team looking to break in a rookie quarterback. (Photo by Peter Read Miller/AP Images)
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Most of what I read about the Broncos' needs on the offensive line focus on guard, but is Connor McGovern not a viable option? He played well at the end of the season and in my opinion the greater need is at right tackle. Your thoughts?**
-- Darren White
McGovern and Max Garcia are both viable options, given their starting experience, and McGovern should be in the mix to back up Matt Paradis at center in 2018 if Paradis, a restricted free agent, returns. With Ron Leary returning to health, it would be no surprise to see McGovern and Garcia competing for a starting spot if the Broncos do not add a veteran in free agency or a guard in the first two rounds of the draft.
The current draft system makes a lot of fans want their team to tank rather than win if the season isn't going well, as was seen with some Broncos fans last year. I think that the draft order for the first 10 picks of every round should be determined by strength of schedule, not overall record. that way, fans will keep cheering for their team all year long, no matter how the season goes. What do you think?
-- Drew Smith
I am generally not in favor of having the draft order determined by random chance or factors that are beyond the control of a team -- one of which would be the strength of schedule. Strength of schedule is good as a tiebreaker, but it should not be the sole determining factor in draft order, at least not if the draft is to continue in its role as a way in which competitive balance is maintained.
Obviously, there are some exceptions, particularly in the continued futility of the Browns and the sustained excellence of the Patriots despite years of low draft position. But in spite of the current flaws, the current method -- or a limited lottery akin to the NBA, in which the draw is weighted toward the worst teams and the team with the worst record can pick no lower than fourth -- is a more practical method.
Mason's top 10 running back free agents
Andrew Mason lists his top 10 running back free agents for the 2018 offseason.
Although using the franchise tag on Bell for a second consecutive year is not the most appetizing option, it could provide a window for the Steelers to work out a long-term deal with Bell. Both sides have expressed openness to reaching a new contract in recent weeks. Bell's production is undeniable as a runner and as a pass-catcher, and if the Steelers do not tag him, he will shoot to the top of this year's free-agent class. (Ric Tapia/AP Images)
The Patriots maximize the effectiveness of their running backs, but what makes Lewis attractive compared to some of their other backs is his all-around ability. He had the broadest range of responsibilities, which allowed him to become the only Patriots running back to accumulate over 1,000 yards from scrimmage last year. Lewis is 27 and has been in the NFL since 2011, but he has just 417 career touches on his ledger and should have plenty left in his tank. (Aaron M. Sprecher/AP Images)
A solid, dependable back on a bad team, Crowell is one of 13 backs to post at least 1,000 yards from scrimmage in each of the last two seasons. He has never posted a 1,000-yard rushing season, but he's also averaged at least 4.0 yards per carry in three of the last four years and can accumulate yardage after contact. Crowell has also never missed a game in his four-season career. (Keith Srakocic/AP Images)
Like Crowell, Hyde has offered steady production for a struggling team, posting back-to-back seasons of over 1,100 yards from scrimmage. But his per-carry average dropped from 4.6 to 3.9 yards last season, and even though he came within 62 yards of his first 1,000-yard rushing season, he didn't break 100 yards in any single game. His first-down percentage of 18.3 percent was also the lowest of his career and could lead the 49ers to move in another direction. (Rick Scuteri/AP Images)
The Pro Football Hall of Fame should call on Gore soon after he becomes eligible, but after leading the Colts with 1,206 yards from scrimmage and coming just 39 yards short of his 10th 1,000-yard season, he should get the opportunity to extend his career at least one more season if he chooses. Although he doesn't have the same explosiveness as he did in the 2000s, the 34-year-old Gore still grinds out consistent 4- and 5-yard gains, and he broke 100 yards twice in the last four games of the regular season, including a 130-yard performance in the snow at Buffalo in Week 14. Amazingly durable, Gore has played in 120 consecutive games (including postseason) dating back to the start of the 2011 season. (AJ Mast/AP Images)
It came as no surprise that the Bucs released Martin on Tuesday after six seasons. Martin was the ultimate boom-or-bust back in recent years. His two best seasons were spectacular; he surpassed 1,400 yards as a rookie in 2012 and again in 2015. (That second 1,400-yard season allowed him to earn a second contract that the Bucs got out of this week.) Not coincidentally, those two 1,400-yard seasons came in the only campaigns that saw him play more than 11 games. He missed a total of 28 games over the course of his other four seasons and failed to break 500 yards in any of those years, averaging fewer than 4.0 yards per attempt each time. If you believe in patterns, then Martin's one-year-up, two-years-down cycle means that he's set for a big year in 2018, but the reality is that injuries have cost him at least five games in four of the last five seasons. (Jason Behnken/AP Images)
The 250-pound Blount remains one of the game's best finishing backs, as he averaged 4.7 yards per carry in the fourth quarter last season, with 34.1 percent of his yards coming in the final 15 minutes as he helped the Eagles put away one foe after another. The only negatives on Blount are advancing age (he turned 31 in December) and the fact that just 17.3 percent of his attempts moved the chains last year, his lowest percentage since 2012. (Chris O'Meara/AP Images)
It took a while for the ex-Georgia Southern quarterback to adjust to playing running back at the next level, but he has gradually emerged as a solid situational back, posting career highs in receptions (51), receiving yards (421), rushing yards (570) and total touchdowns (5) last season. McKinnon's per-carry average was down as the Vikings' offensive line struggled at times last season, but he showed his explosiveness with a career-high 8.3 yards per reception. He is particularly effective on wheel routes and should be a good situational back in the right scheme. (Al Tielemans/AP Images)
Hill battled an ankle injury last year, but even before going on injured reserve, he was being deemphasized in favor of 2017 draft pick Joe Mixon. Hill's per-carry numbers have declined since his explosive rookie season, and while he remains an explosive back capable of taking any carry the distance, the pounding he has taken as a result of the Bengals' declining fortunes along their offensive line has exacted a toll. (Gary Landers/AP Images)
The 5-foot-6, 181-pound back is coming off of a torn ACL that ended his season after just three games. If Sproles was an every-down back, a return to form would be unlikely, but the situational nature of his work over the course of his career makes him a potential buy-low option whose presence can also improve a locker room. He also remains one of the league's best pass-catching backs; the 34-year-old Sproles caught at least 50 passes on six of his previous seven seasons before his ACL tear. (Charlie Riedel/AP Images)
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Been kicking around an idea. What if the Broncos traded a low-round pick for Kirk Cousins, like a seventh-rounder. Then once they got him, they could either do a long term contract or franchise him for a year to see what he’s got almost risk-free. In the meantime they could then use the #5 pick on whoever they wanted -- hopefully offensive-line help. Could be a way to get Cousins, get help and still be a way to stay under the cap until they can see if he is the answer at QB. What do you think?**
-- Steve Gray
I appreciate the thought you put into your idea, but it is unworkable.
Unless Washington places the franchise tag on Cousins, a trade is not a viable option. Further, even if Washington did use the tag, you could not expect to get him for anything less than a third-round pick -- which is what Washington will almost certainly receive from the compensatory pool if Cousins is not tagged and departs in free agency, as expected. Then, beyond that, a franchised Cousins acquired in a trade would have a salary-cap number in the vicinity of $34 million, given that would be the franchise-tag number for him this year.
Mason's top 10 defensive line free agents
Andrew Mason lists his top 10 defensive line free agents for the 2018 offseason.
Richardson showed flashes of brilliance in pass-rush situations after moving from the Jets to the Seahawks last year. He still possesses the rare ability to generate pressure by working through opposing interior offensive linemen and without help from teammates. That skill is why he could get franchised by the Seahawks. (Bill Kostroun/AP Images)
Players of Poe's body type tend to age fast, so as he heads into his seventh season, Poe might be left to seek out another one-year deal similar to the one the Falcons gave him last year -- or, at most, a two-year contract. (Al Tielemans/AP Images)
The Panthers have a similar issue with Lotulelei as they do with guard Andrew Norwell: Do they make another heavy investment in a position group where they already have at least one player on a massive contract? Carolina extended Kawann Short last year and has former first-round pick Vernon Butler working his way up to more playing time, which could leave little room for a big deal for Lotulelei. (Phelan Ebenhack/AP Images)
Even after the reported trade of Alex Smith that is expected to be consummated at the start of the new league year, Kansas City is still in a cap crunch that could prevent them from retaining Logan, whose solid work against the run ensured that the Chiefs did not miss Dontari Poe too much last year. Logan is only a two-down player, but he handles that role well. (Ed Zurga/AP Images)
If Williams were to move on from Buffalo to a 3-4 team, he would likely project as a defensive end. Most of Williams' work is done against the run, although he did notch 49 quarterback hurries -- according to Pro Football Focus -- and eight sacks over the last two seasons. Williams has only played for the Bills during his 12-season career. (Rich Barnes/AP Images)
A solid presence against the run, the 322-pound Jones saw his 2017 season end four games early because of a torn biceps muscle. In addition to his work as a run defender, Jones has contributed five sacks over the last two seasons. (Darron Cummings/AP Images)
Credited by Pro Football Focus with 20 hurries and nine quarterback hits last year, the former NFL Europa, Arena Football League and Canadian Football League defensive lineman played well during his three-year contract with the Vikings after moving over from the Saints. He advanced from a rotational role in his previous years to become a starter last year, starting more games in 2017 (15) than he did in the previous six seasons of his NFL career combined (10). (Peter Read Miller/AP Images)
In the Rams' 4-3 scheme, the former New England first-round pick was a backup to Aaron Donald before tearing his ACL during training camp last year. Knee problems have dogged him throughout his career, but he has enough talent and explosiveness to merit a buy-low contract. (Jae C. Hong/AP Images)
The Eagles' cap crunch makes it likely that they move on from Allen. A stout run defender who has played above his seventh-round pedigree, Allen started eight games over the last three seasons and has missed just one game in his four-season career. Allen has provided depth behind Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan, but he looks worthy of a starting role, something that the Eagles cannot provide. (Nick Wass/AP Images)
At 34 years old and with 13 previous seasons of experience, there are questions as to how much Ngata has left, especially after a torn biceps ended his 2017 season after five games. Ngata is a two-down run defender at this point, and that could limit his value. (Paul Sancya/AP Images)
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If the Broncos sign a quality QB in free agency, what are the chances of them moving up a spot or two and drafting Saquon Barkley? To me, he's the best player in the draft and would improve the offense immediately.**
-- Rob James
There are too many possibilities at this point to start gauging chances beyond making guesses, and the direction in which the Broncos go in the draft could depend on how other needs are filled in free agency, along with how the draft board shapes up. Beyond that, the success of running backs like Kansas City's Kareem Hunt and New Orleans' Alvin Kamara last year shows how the draft can yield outstanding second-day value at the position.
Further, adding a productive running back near the top of the draft is not a predictor of team success. Of the nine running backs taken in the top dozen selections of the last 10 drafts, only Denver's Knowshown Moreno and Jacksonville's Leonard Fournette were part of at least one playoff win with his original drafted team. Moreno is the only one of the nine to play in a Super Bowl for his original team. In the big picture, other positions provide better potential value at No. 5 -- or higher, per your trade-up suggestion -- than running back.
*The analysis, opinion and speculation in this story represents that of the author, gathered through research and reporting, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Denver Broncos organization.
Mason's top 10 edge rusher free agents
Andrew Mason lists his top 10 edge rusher free agents for the 2018 offseason.
Lawrence appears likely to receive the franchise tag after a breakthrough 2017 season that included the first double-digit sack season of his career. The season saw him shake off a frustrating 2016 season in which he missed four games because of a suspension and started just three times, finishing with one sack. Lawrence had more sacks last year (14.5) than in his first three seasons combined (9.0). But the most revealing number on Lawrence is the 52 quarterback hurries he posted last year, playing him sixth in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. (Greg Trott/AP Images)
Ansah came up big in his fifth-year option season, posting his second double-digit sack campaign in the last three years. Inconsistency from season to season remains a concern regarding Ansah, as his seasons of 14.5 sacks (2015) and 12 sacks (2017) sandwiched a 2-sack performance in 2016. That could lead the Lions to allow Ansah to test the market, where he is likely to command an average per-year salary easily reaching eight figures. (Detroit Lions/AP Images)
Murphy's 2017 was a disaster. He had a four-game suspension for a PED violation and then tore his ACL and MCL in the preseason opener, ending his season. The team that signs the Stanford product will get a player who was just beginning to reach his potential in 2016, notching nine sacks and three forced fumbles in a sub-package role. Murphy proved to be a good complement to Ryan Kerrigan and could find similar success as a bookend to an elite pass rusher. At 259 pounds, Murphy can operate in 3-4 and 4-3 schemes and should be a good value signing. (Aaron M. Sprecher/AP Images)
A torn Achilles tendon brought a premature end to a season in which he he was one of the reasons behind the dramatic improvement of New Orleans' defense, posting 4.5 sacks, 21 hurries and four passes defensed. He also improved his work against the run, making himself into a true every-down defender. At 27, Okafor has put four disappointing seasons in Arizona behind him, and he should maintain his production from his season with the Saints if he can recover from the torn Achilles. (Bill Feig/AP Images)
In his NFL youth, Peppers was a freakish athlete the likes of which had not been seen coming off the edge. He has maintained enough of his speed and quickness to go along with his reach and array of moves to become the first 37-year-old to post a double-digit sack season since Bruce Smith in 2000 and the fifth in NFL history. (The other four -- Smith, Reggie White, Kevin Greene and Chris Doleman -- are Hall of Famers.) The presence of one of the league's best linebacking corps and strong interior defensive-line presences allowed him the chance to work one-on-one, and he capitalized. If he leaves for another team, he might not find the going so easy, but all signs point to him playing with Carolina if he wants to return for a 17th season. (Mike McCarn/AP Images)
After missing 28 games to injuries in his first four seasons, Clayborn has played in all but three games over the last three seasons with the Falcons, and he hits the market off of a career-high 9.5 sacks last year in a rotational role. At 280 pounds, Clayborn projects better to a 4-3 alignment than a 3-4 scheme. (Ryan Kang/AP Images)
He's not a true edge rusher -- certainly not as he was projected to be when the Browns used the sixth-overall pick on him in 2013 -- but he has settled in as a solid pass rusher and an above-average linebacker in coverage. He heads into free agency off of the best half-season of his career, and could be a solid buy-low option with some untapped upside. (Nick Wass/AP Images)
At 31, Barwin isn't the pass-rushing threat he was four years ago, posting five sacks in each of the last two seasons -- one each with the Eagles and Rams. Barwin can hold his own in pass coverage when necessary, and he could provide value to a locker room in need of the steady veteran presence that he would provide. (Aaron M. Sprecher/AP Images)
If Super Bowl 50 had turned out another way, Ealy might have a Super Bowl MVP trophy on his mantle. As it turned out, the two-sack game he posted in the Panthers' 24-10 loss to Denver was the apex of his career to date. He posted just one sack last season with the Jets after the Patriots traded for him and subsequently released him. (Aaron M. Sprecher/AP Images)
In Lynch's first two seasons (2014-15), he notched 12.5 sacks and 69 quarterback hurries (per Pro Football Focus) and looked as if he would become one of the league's best young pass rushers. But a four-game suspension in 2016 for a violation of the league's substance-abuse policy derailed him, and the 6-foot-6, 270-pounder has never gotten back on track. A calf injury prevented him from having an opportunity to get on the field for extensive work when injuries struck the 49ers last year. Lynch looks like the textbook example of a player who could benefit from hitting the reset button with a fresh start in a new city. (Terrell Lloyd/AP Images)