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Mason's Mailbag:  Gary Zimmerman a true Broncos Hall of Famer

Do you consider Gary Zimmerman to be a Broncos Hall of Famer? Nobody really includes him in the conversation, so if he isn’t, who is the first Broncos O-lineman that makes the HoF?

-- Chris (@badstonevader via Twitter)

Who is this "nobody" to whom you refer? I've never heard of Zimmerman not being considered a Bronco in the Hall of Fame. While he had more seasons in Minnesota (seven) than Denver (five), he was a part of a Super Bowl winner with the Broncos, and the discrepancy between his two NFL stints isn't great enough to cause the scales to be tipped in one direction or the other. Thus, he is a Hall of Famer as both a Bronco and a Viking. Furthermore, the fact that he chose Owner Pat Bowlen to introduce him at the 2008 Hall of Fame ceremony cements the esteem in which Zimmerman held the Broncos and their presence in his career. 

Champ Bailey is probably the best cornerback I have ever seen. His 2006 season is insane and arguably, deserving of the Defensive Player of the Year. That being said, Randy Gradishar or Steve Atwater should have been the first Broncos defender to enter the HoF. Can fans do anything to help them?

-- Jose Borrero

Short of unearthing more data regarding either Gradishar or Atwater, there isn't much that can be done. That said, Atwater made the cut from 15 finalists to 10 last February, and seems to have momentum in his corner. I don't think it's a matter of "if," but "when."

There are 43 players eligible for Pro Football Hall of Fame induction who played at least nine seasons and were selected to the Pro Bowl or AFL All-Star Game in at least 70 percent of their seasons. Atwater is the only one of the 43 who is not in the Hall of Fame. (Three were added in the 2019 class: Champ Bailey, Tony Gonzalez and Ed Reed.) Atwater is also one of just two players from the All-1990s team on offense or defense who is not yet in the Hall. (The other is LeRoy Butler, another safety who deserves enshrinement.)

As for Gradishar, Hall of Fame President David Baker has noted the potential for an additional group of senior Hall of Fame inductees in 2020, the 100th anniversary of the NFL's first season. Gradishar would seem to be a slam-dunk choice, especially given that Hall of Famers Harry Carson (New York Giants) and Robert Brazile (Houston Oilers) played in the same era and have similar resumes.

If the escrow requirement were to be removed for guaranteed money, how much would that help in restructuring contracts to free up cap space and re-sign players? Would we start to see more contracts like other sports, especially with the contact soon to be renegotiated?

-- Stephen Phelps

Not necessarily. If NFL contracts resembled those of other sports -- in which the money is entirely guaranteed (with team, player or mutual options at some point later in the deal), that would likely be an alteration that resulted from a new collective bargaining agreement.

The escrow requirement has value, in that it keeps owners (or ownership groups) from being in too far over their heads. It is a fail-safe that prevents the potential issue of not being able to meet payroll and other financial obligations. This was an issue for some teams through history, although at the highest level of pro sports today, it is generally less of a threat, thanks to the comprehensive vetting of potential owners and abundant revenue streams.

Why haven’t we given a look at Brody Oliver out of Colorado School of Mines? He’s got great size, excellent speed and he pulls down every contested ball. He’s a battler. He is just what Joe Flacco needs as a downfield big body. To top it off he comes cheap. Small school shouldn’t deter looking at real talent. I really like what I see in this guy and I'm not alone.

-- Orion Rogers

The Broncos did take a look at Oliver. He took part in the local Pro Day the team held at the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse on April 10. They didn’t sign him, but they did sign other small-school players from FCS and Division II, such as wide receivers Kelvin McKnight (Samford, FCS) and Trinity Benson (East Central, D-II).

Don't forget that they already have two big-bodied young receivers returning to the roster in Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick. That's not a skill set and body type they lack at this time.

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