When the Bears decided to release two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Kyle Fuller, the Broncos moved to bring him into the fold.
Entering free agency, no position was in need of an influx of talent more than cornerback.
In the months prior, Denver had parted ways with A.J. Bouye, whose sole season with the Broncos had been derailed by injuries and a suspension. Rookies Michael Ojemudia and Essang Bassey had been promising, but Ojeumudia's season was up-and-down (as is to be expected from most rookies) and Bassey's was cut short by an ACL injury.
In short, a bit of stability was welcome. They got that with the signing of former Washington cornerback Ronald Darby; they got that and more by adding Fuller, who was a first-team All-Pro player in 2018.
The move was an instant boost for the Broncos' fortunes, several writers said.
"Denver's weekend addition of Kyle Fuller, who will start opposite Darby fresh off an abrupt release from the Bears, should be commended," Cody Benjamin wrote for CBS Sports in picking Fangio and the Broncos as one of several free-agency winners. "… If the Broncos are bent on getting to the playoffs because of their 'D,' Fuller should help."
One reason for that is Fuller's familiarity with Fangio's defense. As Nick Kosmider wrote for The Athletic, it should be a natural transition back into the defense with which he was most successful.
"The 5-foot-11, 194-pound defensive back was an All-Pro under Fangio in 2018, when he led the league in interceptions (seven) and passes defensed (21)," Kosmider wrote. "His strength, nose for the ball and comfort in the scheme played a major role in the Bears leading the NFL with 36 takeaways that season."
On the whole, the upshot is that with the returns of Von Miller and Shelby Harris, Denver's defense should once again be among the league's best.
"Is Fangio primed to have his best defense since becoming Denver's head coach in 2019?" Kosmider wrote. "It certainly looks like the pieces are in place."
Below the Fold
Let's check out some free-agency grades from around the sports media landscape. CBS Sports gave the Broncos a B grade overall, not finding fault in the players added but solely noting some of the financial cost.
Looking particularly at the deal for Justin Simmons, ESPN gave the move a B, but noted "Simmons is young enough (27) to continue building a defense around. He has started every game for the past three seasons, is a strong leader and most importantly is finally getting some recognition for his broad-based skill set."
Pro Football Focus was similarly approving of the move to sign Simmons to a long-term contract. "Simmons has been one of the best safeties in the NFL over the past two seasons, leading the position in cumulative PFF grade (90.5) and ranking third among all defensive players in PFF WAR generated," they wrote.