Although the league new year has just begun, free agency is already off to a roaring start. Many of the top available players have already chosen new homes, and the Broncos are among the teams to reportedly make a splash. Just three days into the official start of free agency, the Broncos have executed three trades and reportedly signed three free agents. That reported class of A.J. Bouye, Jurrell Casey, Melvin Gordon, Graham Glasgow and Jeff Driskel — plus a handful of extended tenders and reported re-signings — has reshaped the outlook of the Broncos' roster. Needs from just a few days ago are no longer needs, and the Broncos can begin to look elsewhere.
As the second wave of free agency begins, Lead Writer Aric DiLalla takes a look at where the Broncos' roster currently stands … and what could come next.
Drew Lock remains the solidified starter at the quarterback position, and the Broncos reportedly agreed to terms with Jeff Driskel on Tuesday. Driskel has started eight career games and could serve as a veteran backup to Lock. Second-year player Brett Rypien remains under contract after he spent two games on the active roster in 2019. The Broncos informed Joe Flacco he would be released with a failed physical designation, the team announced Thursday.
The Broncos made a splash Friday as they reportedly agreed to terms on a two-year deal with former Chargers running back Melvin Gordon III. The two-time Pro Bowler should form a one-two punch with Phillip Lindsay at running back, and Royce Freeman also remains a quality option. Denver could also add a draft pick to the group, as Devontae Booker officially became an unrestricted free agent this week. The Broncos also made a move at fullback, as they traded Andy Janovich to the Browns in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick.
Courtland Sutton remains the team's top weapon, and the Broncos tendered exclusive rights free agents Tim Patrick and Diontae Spencer earlier this week. Former fourth-round draft pick DaeSean Hamilton also remains under contract. Wide receiver still appears to be an area of need, and the Broncos could look for a player with elite speed to complement Sutton's game. Robby Anderson and Breshad Perriman remained on the open market Friday afternoon as the top receiver options. The Broncos could also use an early draft pick on a receiver. This year's class is considered to be one of the best ever for the position. Reserve players Trinity Benson, Fred Brown, Kelvin McKnight and Juwann Winfree are also on the team's roster.
Noah Fant led all rookie tight ends in nearly every statistical category in 2019, and he also set a handful of Broncos rookie records. He's expected to lead the way again in 2020, and the Broncos have plenty of options to assist him. Jeff Heuerman, Jake Butt, Troy Fumagalli, Austin Fort and Bug Howard all remain on the roster. Of the bunch, Heuerman is the most experienced. The 2015 draft pick has 63 career receptions. It's possible the Broncos add to this group, as most of the players in the room have dealt with serious injuries in the past.
UPDATE [Saturday, 2 p.m.]: According to media reports, the Broncos added Nick Vannett on a two-year deal. Vannett, known for his blocking skills, should be a valuable addition.
The Broncos appeared to be set at both tackle positions and left guard heading into free agency. Garett Bolles and Ja'Wuan James appear poised to man the left and right tackle spots, respectively. Dalton Risner, meanwhile, will enter his second season as the team's left guard. The Broncos reportedly agreed to terms with Detroit's Graham Glasgow, and he could slot in at either center or right guard for Denver. Connor McGovern, who started last year for the Broncos at center, reportedly agreed to terms with the Jets this week. Where Glasgow plays could depend on if they sign another lineman in free agency or if they address the position in the draft. The Broncos extended a second-round tender to Elijah Wilkinson, who has played both right guard and right tackle during his career in Denver. The Broncos also tendered tackle Jake Rodgers, who was an exclusive rights free agent. Patrick Morris and Austin Schlottmann also saw playing time last year and remain on the roster.
The Broncos made perhaps their biggest splash of the free-agency period when they traded for Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey. The five-time Pro Bowler should immediately help fortify a defensive line that is expected to look much different in 2020. Starters Derek Wolfe and Shelby Harris both became unrestricted free agents this week, and former second-round pick Adam Gotsis also hit the open market. John Elway did not rule out re-signing Wolfe or Harris when asked at the 2020 NFL Combine. As of 5 p.m. Friday, neither player had agreed to terms with another team. The Broncos extended a second-round tender to DL Mike Purcell on Wednesday, so he appears to be a known entity. The Broncos also return DeMarcus Walker and Dre'Mont Jones to the unit. Denver could continue to look for help during free agency or attack the position in the draft.
Perhaps the most settled of any position outside of quarterback and safety, the Broncos have their starting tandem in Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. The team picked up Miller's contract option last week, and Chubb is expected to make a full recovery from a torn ACL he suffered in 2019. The Broncos' options behind Miller and Chubb are a bit more interesting. Malik Reed, who appeared in 15 games and started eight, recorded two sacks and is under contract for next season. Jeremiah Attaochu, who made a surprising impact in 2019 with 3.5 sacks, is an unrestricted free agent.
The Broncos were linked to several inside linebackers in the lead-up to free agency, but they haven't yet made any splash moves. As it stands now, the Broncos are expected to start Alexander Johnson and Todd Davis on the inside of their 3-4 defense. Johnson, who appeared in his first defensive snaps in 2019, started 12 games and made an impact with an interception, two forced fumbles, 1.5 sacks and 93 tackles. Al Wilson, the former Broncos great, said he expects Johnson to end up as a Pro Bowler or All-Pro. Davis, meanwhile, again led the team in tackles as he tallied 134 takedowns in 14 games. If the Broncos do look to improve at inside linebacker, they could look for a player who excels in pass coverage. Josey Jewell and Josh Watson also remain on the Broncos' roster, and Joe Jones reportedly is in talks to return to the team.
For the first time in nine years, Chris Harris Jr. won't jog out at cornerback for the Broncos. The longtime Bronco reportedly agreed to terms with the Chargers this week, which means Denver will have a new No. 1 cornerback in 2020. Bryce Callahan, whom the Broncos signed in 2019, is working toward a full recovery after not playing last season due to a foot injury. Denver also made a splash by trading a fourth-round pick to Jacksonville in exchange for Pro Bowler A.J. Bouye. The eighth-year player has a knack for forcing turnovers. Denver also signed cornerback De'Vante Bausby to a one-year deal, and the team also tendered exclusive rights free agent Shakial Taylor. Duke Dawson Jr., whom the Broncos traded for just ahead of the 2019 season, also remains under contract. Denver may still be looking for a No. 3 cornerback — and the team could find that piece in either the next wave of free agency or in the draft. Depending on who that third cornerback ends up being, the Broncos could potentially look to play Callahan in the slot, where he worked in Chicago. Bouye is strictly an outside player.
The Broncos' starters remain set. Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons are expected to continue to man the defensive backfield after the Broncos applied the franchise tag to Simmons on Friday. The Broncos have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal with Simmons. Behind those two players, the team could feature some new faces. Trey Marshall was tendered this week, but Will Parks is now an unrestricted free agent.
Brandon McManus is the only kicker on the Broncos' roster after the team picked up his contract option on Friday. He is entering his seventh season in Denver.
Wes Farnsworth and Jacob Bobenmoyer are currently on the team's roster. Casey Kreiter, who has snapped for the Broncos since 2016, is an unrestricted free agent.
Colby Wadman has handled punting responsibilities for much of the last two seasons, but the Broncos signed Trevor Daniel to a futures contract earlier this offseason. The two are currently the only ones competing for the job.
KICK RETURNER/PUNT RETURNER:
Diontae Spencer will seemingly retain these roles after the Broncos tendered him this week. Spencer was named a Pro Bowl alternate for his work during the 2019 season.