Nov 27, 2011; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Shaun Phillips (95) in overtime against the Denver Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Well, now that the Denver Broncos picked up the third Ex-Charger this offseason, Quentin Jammer, I thought it may be interesting to take look at how the Bolts´ rival from Denver is set up right now. This means, with this piece I want to figure out, if they were able to make their team even better than they were in 2012.
Let´s jump right into this.
One of the first moves the Broncos´ executive vice president John Elway made in free agency, was to snag former Chargers guard Louis Vasquez off the market. He signed a 4-year, $23.5 million deal with the team. Louis Vasquez was the only reliable lineman besides center Nick Hardwick last year in San Diego. His departure was painful, but when looking at those contract numbers above, then Tom Telesco obviously did the right thing (he would have been too expensive).
Besides picking up the the second best guard in this year´s free agency, the Broncos put the franchise tag on one of the best left tackles in the league, Ryan Clady. So, I guess it´s save to say they were able to upgrade their offensive line.
Another big move in free agency was the signing of the slot receiver threat Wes Welker. The former New England Patriot may be a little bit overrated in the NFL – he dropped quite a lot of passes in his career (I´m not only talking about championship games here) – but nonetheless, he was a huge part of the Patriots´ success in the last decade. So, with Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker (Peyton Manning get´s the best out of this guy) and now Wes Welker, their receiving corps looks pretty dangerous.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie lines up as the next big free agent pick-up. Rodgers-Cromartie has been wildly inconsistent in his two seasons in Philadelphia, but he has the skill set to be one of the top corners in the league. The Broncos gave him a one-year deal worth $5 million. For the comparison: The Chargers signed (the pretty injury-prone) Derek Cox to a four-year contract worth $20 million, with $10.25 million guaranteed. Considering DRC´s upside, it´s just fair to say, our division rival did a solid job on working out that deal.
Let´s take a quick look at what they were able to do in this year´s NFL draft.
With their first round pick, defensive tackle Sylvester Williams, the Broncos addressed a big need, the defensive line. They didn´t have an interior pass rush, so Williams surely is an upgrade over the last year´s starters.
In the second round they selected Montee Ball, running back out of Wisconsin. This pick was a bit of a head scratcher for most of the fans, as Alabama´s Eddie Lacy still would have been available. John Elway said the decision was based on “medical” (Lacy suffered a toe injury in 2011). Ball maybe was picked too early, but after all he fills a need. Willis McGahee turns 32 in October and is coming off a knee injury. Knowshon Moreno had a solid season, but has struggled during his career and Ronnie Hillman can´t be seen as the solution either. So, Montee Ball should be able to help the vets in the running game.
But the Broncos´ front staff waited until the fifth round to select a potential “replacement” for Elvis Dumervil; they grabbed defensive end Quanterus Smith with the 146th pick. We already know this wasn´t the only move they´ve made to address this position. Shortly after that draft pick it became public that Denver sealed the deal on the former Chargers´ outside linebacker Shaun Phillips. So Phillips will play defensive end in Denver´s 4-3 scheme this season…can he be considered as an upgrade over Dumervil? Stupid question, I know (the answer is: No!). But John Elway was able to get him in on a 1-year, $1 million dollar contract. This, I´ve to admit, is a great deal for the Broncos.
But defensive end isn´t the only roster spot they failed to make an upgrade; the safety position still is pretty weak. Rahim Moore was one of the goats of the postseason. His blown coverage in the fourth quarter of the Broncos´ only playoff game last year potentially cost the team a win against the Baltimore Ravens. But it looks like Elway added some depth behind the starting duo in the last line of the defense yesterday: According to the Denver Post, he signed long-time Charger Quentin Jammer to a 1-year, $940,000 deal.
So, BoltFam, what do you think about the offseason work of our division rival from Denver? Will they be a bigger threat in 2013 than they were last year? Is it already a sure thing, that they will win the AFC West? Are they the best team in the AFC? And finally – do you think they will win the Super Bowl? Feel free to place your thoughts in the comments section below.
Thank you for checking out this piece!