ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Here is a breakdown of the initial wave of free agency for the Denver Broncos:
Overall grade: B-. The Broncos’ trade for tackle Jared Veldheer bumped them to just above average. If they’re right about cornerback Tramaine Brock, and he really does push Bradley Roby for a starting cornerback spot, as coach Vance Joseph has said, then it gets better. And if Case Keenum is the quarterback the Broncos believe he is, they get the easy “A" and plenty of chances to tell everyone they told them so.
Most significant signing: It’s Keenum by a wide margin. After some initial work to see what it would take to sign Kirk Cousins, the Broncos zeroed in on Keenum early and officially wrapped up negotiations with him in the opening hours of free agency. The Broncos believe Keenum’s 2017 efforts (3,547 passing yards, 22 touchdowns) show that he is still an ascending player, and his resilience in the face of tough times in his career make him the locker-room leader the Broncos want.
Most significant loss: After a season in which a backup quarterback was behind center for the Super Bowl winner, it’s clear that those teams willing to maintain as much depth as possible at the game’s most important position have an advantage. While the Broncos still believe former first-round pick Paxton Lynch can raise his game, the team traded its chance for the best depth chart it could have had at quarterback by sending Trevor Siemian to the Vikings.
Player they should have signed: Wide receiver Allen Robinson is a player the Broncos, specifically John Elway, thought a lot of before the 2014 draft, when they instead selected Cody Latimer in the second round. Although it would have taken some salary-cap work to squeeze both Keenum and Robinson into the budget, and Robinson is coming off a torn left ACL from September, it would have been worth the effort.
Additions: Case Keenum, QB; Todd Davis, LB (retained); Clinton McDonald, DE; Tramaine Brock, CB; Jared Veldheer, T (trade).
Subtractions: Trevor Siemian, QB (trade); Virgil Green, TE; Cody Latimer, WR; Donald Stephenson, T; Corey Nelson, LB; Brock Osweiler, QB.
What’s next: At the moment, the Broncos have nine picks in this year’s draft, and all nine are in the first five rounds. Given that it is also likely the team’s most important draft since 2011, Elway’s first on the job, that will be much of their focus in the weeks ahead, but they could use some additional depth in the offensive line and a veteran wide receiver who could play in the slot.