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'We've gotten better as a football team': John Elway weighs in on first wave of free agency, looks ahead to NFL Draft

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With the first wave of free agency complete, President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway said he's excited about how the team has improved in recent days.

"We're excited about [how it] unfolded," Elway said in his first comments since free agency began March 18. "You never know. We still have to go win football games. But it was a good start for us this offseason with A.J. Bouye, trading for him at the corner position and then Jurrell Casey, trading for him at the defensive tackle position that we needed and steal a very, very good football player, a five-time Pro Bowler. For us to be able to trade a seventh-round pick for him, we felt very fortunate. We got Graham Glasgow inside, the guard/center from Detroit that has had a tremendous career so far. We look forward to him continuing that here. It's been a real good start for us. We're excited about where we are. Obviously, we've got a long way to go and we still have to win some football games, but we feel like we've gotten better as a football team."

Bouye and Casey joined the Broncos via a pair of trades for a fourth- and seventh-round pick, respectively. Glasgow, meanwhile, was the Broncos' first free-agent signing of 2020. The Broncos also reportedly agreed to terms with Melvin Gordon.

"Obviously we had two good backs in Royce Freeman and [Phillip] Lindsay," Elway said. "We know that [Lindsay] is a guy that's had a great year for us. I know there's people going, 'Why do you need another horse?' Well, when you have an opportunity for Melvin Gordon to come in here, we felt like it was an addition to the team. He's a guy that obviously has had a lot of success in this league. He's scored a lot of touchdowns and has caught the football a ton. So we feel like with him — with Melvin, as well as Phillip — that we've got a great one-two punch, and we'll only get better in the backfield.

"Ultimately, we have to score more points this year. We've struggled on the offensive side the last two, three years, and so we've got to get better on that side. I think Melvin will be one of those key pieces to help us get better."

Elway and the Broncos have assembled the first stages of their 2020 free-agent class with a limited staff, as NFL organizations allowed only essential personnel to be at team facilities in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

"Our scouts haven't been here and they've been off the road, so there's a lot of information on the college side that we have not been getting," Elway said. "For the most part, the staff on the pro side has been in the office and so we're able to start this free-agent period, and we're excited about where we sit right now having it started a couple weeks ago and to be where we are right now, we're excited about it. Obviously it's a little bit different with a limited crew and a limited staff, but we've got a great staff and I'm really proud of everybody on my staff that we've been able to get to where we are right now."

The Broncos will now turn their attention to the 2020 NFL Draft, which is scheduled to begin on April 23.

"I think we feel like we can go into the draft and draft the best player possible that's going to be able to help our football team," Elway said. "So, I felt like we closed our glaring holes and therefore can go into the draft and try to pick the football players for the Broncos that are going to have a chance to have good, long careers."

In light of the NFL's announcement this week that all team facilities must close (with very limited exceptions) through at least April 8, Elway said it would be easier for the draft to be pushed back.

"Really, we feel pretty good about where we are," Elway said. "We'd rather have it backed up so we can get all our scouts and everybody in, but if it's limited and we can stay there and they're not going to move the draft, we're in good shape. I think that one of the reasons why, with I think the coaches not going to the Combine and them spending the whole week here just on the college side, it's put us way ahead there because we've got the coaches' rankings already. The scouts are already working on next year a little bit to the 2021 summer manual, so we feel like we're in pretty good shape. If it moves back, great, we're ready for that. If it doesn't move, then we'll be ready for that too."

Elway, who has a son-in-law in the medical field, also took time during the interview to thank those who are ensuring the public's safety during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"All those hospital workers and the doctors and the nurses and everybody that's going through this, that's really the front line of this battle — and really, war. … So I'd just like to thank them for all that they're doing," Elway said. "My son-in-law is one of those. He's a doctor in Sacramento. He's one of those that's on the front line. They truly are the warriors. Just [want to] say thank you and [share our] continued support and we really appreciate it. And the great thing is, America is a great, great country. We will get through this. Obviously it's a scary time right now, but we're going to come out the other end a much better country than we are right now."

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