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John Elway and the Defending Champion Broncos Lose Big in Free Agency

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  • John Elway and the Defending Champion Broncos Lose Big in Free Agency

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2...in-free-agency


    By Mike Tanier , NFL National Lead Writer Mar 11, 2016

    "If NFL free agency were a chess tournament, John Elway would win every year—or at least face off with Bill Belichick and a few others in the late rounds. He's one of the NFL's great chess masters.

    But NFL free agency is not chess. Garry Kasparov never had to cope with pawns that signed with Anatoly Karpov for more money. It's more like high-stakes poker, with a little highway chicken thrown in and a dash of Hungry Hungry Hippos. It's a complicated game.

    Elway is usually great at that game, too. But he lost badly this week.

    Elway and the defending champion Denver Broncos on Friday traded a conditional draft pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for Mark Sanchez, the kind of custodial backup quarterback who can usually be grabbed from the free-agent discount rack. Sanchez—29 years old, 0-2 as a starter last year, four years removed from his brief tenure as a semi-capable quarterback—replaces Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler, a living legend and the hand-picked-and-nurtured replacement for that living legend.

    The Sanchez trade comes at the end of a week in which defensive tackle Malik Jackson and linebacker Danny Trevathan signed with the Jaguars and Bears, respectively. Running back C.J. Anderson signed an offer sheet with the Dolphins that the Broncos have not yet matched. The Broncos released tight end Owen Daniels and guard Louis Vasquez, Super Bowl starters, in an effort to clear cap space. Before Sanchez, lineman Donald Stephenson was their only addition.

    Osweiler signed with the Texans, of course, and Manning retired on Monday. The Broncos are sure to do more at quarterback than just shake Sanchez's hand and toss him on the field; the only other quarterback on the payroll is Trevor Siemian, a seventh-round pick last May. Colin Kaepernick could still arrive via trade. Another quarterback could arrive in the draft. But there is no positive answer lurking anywhere to the question: "Are you better off now than you were seven days ago?"

    There is no sugar coating this awful week. Broncos fans can try to reassure themselves that Elway was operating according to some complicated chessboard gambit, and he certainly entered free agency with a plan—but free-agent plans fall through quickly, especially when the eight-figure contracts start popping up.

    Elway cannot blame this lost week solely on the salary cap. Once Manning cleared the decks, the Broncos had the money to sign somebody. If not Osweiler, then Jackson. If not Jackson, then Osweiler. If not either, then certainly Trevathan and/or Anderson. Linebackers and running backs are far easier to replace than quarterbacks or defensive linemen, but it would only have cost them a little money and a measly free-agent tender to retain a pair of talented young starters (Anderson could still return, though at a higher price than the Broncos planned to play) and simplify their agenda.

    Instead of targeting Osweiler to stabilize the offense, targeting the defenders in preparation for a year of novice quarterbacking or making some other proactive move (locking up Von Miller for the rest of the decade instead of franchise-tagging him, perhaps), Elway and the Broncos tried to keep all the plates spinning at once. They might have negotiated with Jackson, Osweiler and Trevathan, but they didn't go out of their financial way to make any of them feel coveted.

    The plates began crashing at the start of this week and haven't stopped. The Jaguars priced Jackson out of the Broncos' market. Osweiler saw a rich quarterback market and a chance to escape Manning's shadow and stopped returning calls. The Broncos chose to remain within a tight budget for both players, and for others. That's a wise strategy up until the moment you don't have any players left.

    It's as if the Broncos entered free agency with plenty of contingency plans but no primary plan. They hedged multiple bets and lost them all. In football cliche terms, they played to not lose instead of playing to win.

    It all culminated in the Sanchez trade. Four years ago, Elway snookered the Jets out of a pair of draft picks for Tim Tebow because the Jets were seeking reasons to move on from Sanchez. Now Elway is the one spending resources on a backup quarterback with more fame than value.

    The Broncos' organizational tone since the start of free agency has been defiantly anti-rebuilding, as the scorching barbs about Osweiler on the team website and Elway's remarks about "players who want to be here" indicate. The Broncos won the Super Bowl despite some iffy quarterbacking last year, so why not saddle up for a repeat?

    Last year's Broncos could probably have won the AFC West with Mark Sanchez at quarterback. But last year's Broncos employed Jackson and the others, as well as free-agent contributors still dangling on the open market like Ronnie Hillman and Brandon Marshall.

    This year's Broncos are not last year's Broncos. And this year's Raiders are not last year's Raiders, either, though that is a problem beyond Elway's control.

    It's ludicrous to call the Broncos contenders after the week they just endured, even if they add the risky Kaepernick to the depth chart. The Broncos suddenly look more like last year's Texans or (with Sanchez at the helm) a Rex Ryan team, with the defense clamping down and hoping the offense commits less than three turnovers. Yes, parts of last season went down just like that, but Manning at his injury-plagued worst looked a lot like Sanchez on any given Sunday.

    Perhaps Elway saw it all along. He knew Osweiler would garner money the Broncos would never want to pay a quarterback with seven starts. He knew the defenders would fetch an open-market premium. He tried the hometown-discount, repeat-champion sales pitch, then decided to polish his ring and bide his time after what was really a lightning-in-a-bottle championship.

    Maybe Elway estimated the odds of repeating were slim, so he is letting the roster and budget refresh themselves, with Sanchez acting as a placeholder so he doesn't have to pull any triggers he doesn't want to pull. This week was just a calculated step backward to take steps forward with Miller and a younger roster in 2017 or beyond. Elway the gambler folded, Elway the chessmaster resigned so the board could be reset. The bluster about returning to the Super Bowl with "an even modest improvement under center" was a mix of smokescreen and poker face.

    It's appealing to think so—just as it's appealing to think that Elway can MacGyver his way out of this free-agency quagmire with some 98-yard fourth-quarter drive. But sometimes free agency is like playing quarterback. You cannot hesitate when your first read is open. Not only will you miss your chance to throw to him, but your other reads will cover up as well, and the pocket will collapse.

    Elway was one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. But even the greatest of the great hesitate now and then. And suffer the consequences."

    Mike Tanier covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.
    Last edited by Fantaztic7; 03-11-2016, 04:50 PM. Reason: Update

  • #2
    I don't understand who the Broncos lost that's so irreplaceable. I really don't haha.

    We'll be fine

    Comment


    • #3
      If free agency is chess, then we started with like 7 pawns against other teams stacked boards of queens.

      Chess is a game where you start with an equal playing field, Free Agency has everything to do with the salary cap available. Only an idiot would make a reference like that - lmao.

      To use chess as a reference - the whole game of football is the chessboard, and we just won the last game. Now we are merely resetting the boards, we'll see what happens in the future.

      Comment


      • #4
        Posted the article for a view from outside the board. It's one writer's take.

        Answer is somewhere in the middle. Sky is not falling. At the same time being realistic Elway and the Broncos have work to do.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by SoundsOfSuccess View Post
          I don't understand who the Broncos lost that's so irreplaceable. I really don't haha.

          We'll be fine
          agreed. I love Malik and think he was very under rated but we should be able to get a decent player in the draft. Maybe a guy like Carl Nassib or Jihad Ward.

          here is 3 round mock to fix the losses...

          Paxton Lynch
          Jason Spriggs
          Jihad Ward...

          done.
          sigpic

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by broncos SB2010 View Post
            agreed. I love Malik and think he was very under rated but we should be able to get a decent player in the draft. Maybe a guy like Carl Nassib or Jihad Ward.

            here is 3 round mock to fix the losses...

            Paxton Lynch
            Jason Spriggs
            Jihad Ward...

            done.
            I could be wrong however believe we're better in 2016 based on what's happened. With all the "panic" people forget free agency means players move. Losing Malik and Trevathan is not the end of the world. People forget signing Wolfe was like signing a big free agent.

            We picked up Phil Taylor and we have Marshall. We picked up Donald Stephenson for the line and also Robert Myers late in the season - he's a solid development player at guard.

            The QB situation could be better however things happen for a reason. While it would be nice not to have a question mark at QB, over-paying for Osweiler would have been detrimental to the roster this year and beyond.

            Chris Long is getting some interest however I'm thinking Elway will use the draft for depth at DE.

            QB situation will get better - Elway isn't done yet. When all said and done we'll have a much improved O line and we can draft a running back.

            Comment


            • #7
              OMG we lost two QBs who combined for the 31st worse passer rating out of 32 teams....OMG we lost everything so far...

              Oh wait...we less then a week into free agency.

              Maybe we can wait until training camp before we start passing judgment....

              Better yet lets wait and see if these players earn their contracts in 2016 before we start to pass judgement.

              This same writer may be saying Elway was smart come Jan 2017...

              Its like every year people forget they were bashing Elway about one thing or another during the offseason (spent too much money one defense, did not get a ILB, did not get a NT blah blah blah blah) then come the regular season we are the 1 or 2 seed and all that offseason crying was garbage.

              People do not remember too far back when all they want to do is trash other's actions.
              Last edited by Hadez; 03-12-2016, 05:10 AM.
              Time to build on the win and grow the team from some solid play higher level of play

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Hadez View Post
                OMG we lost two QBs who combined for the 31st worse passer rating out of 32 teams....OMG we lost everything so far...

                Oh wait...we less then a week into free agency.

                Maybe we can wait until training camp before we start passing judgment....

                Better yet lets wait and see if these players earn their contracts in 2016 before we start to pass judgement.

                This same writer may be saying Elway was smart come Jan 2017...
                Agree. I believe we can be much improved on offense. The O line was a patch work and ranked 20th overall and 23rd pass protection.

                Looking at losing Malik and Osweiler - combined there was no way we could pay both players. Would have been detrimental to the team in 2016 and beyond.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Hadez View Post
                  OMG we lost two QBs who combined for the 31st worse passer rating out of 32 teams....OMG we lost everything so far...

                  Oh wait...we less then a week into free agency.

                  Maybe we can wait until training camp before we start passing judgment....

                  Better yet lets wait and see if these players earn their contracts in 2016 before we start to pass judgement.

                  This same writer may be saying Elway was smart come Jan 2017...

                  Its like every year people forget they were bashing Elway about one thing or another during the offseason (spent too much money one defense, did not get a ILB, did not get a NT blah blah blah blah) then come the regular season we are the 1 or 2 seed and all that offseason crying was garbage.

                  People do not remember too far back when all they want to do is trash other's actions.
                  Denver did 'get away' with really bad quarterbacking, BUT his name was Peyton Manning. Teams had to respect the fact he could turn it on and light it up any second. Now we know that didn't happen.

                  Apposing teanm's defenses will go into games against, possibly Sanchez, which makes a big difference. Denver's defense will go back on the field each series knowing the ship probably ain't gonna be righted and they will not be happy with their new workload. You have a Defense and Offensive unit for a reason. Asking your defende to win next season like they had to last season is your challenbge

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    how has anyone "lost" free agecy less than a week in... specially since we lost trev who0 was good whne he was on the field and replaced fairly easily by the back ups we have when he wasn't (which was often) we lost Mailk who I didn't remember existed til this year, Peyton who I loved having here but played very poorly this year, and Oz who couldn't finish off games...

                    Don't see any of that as a loss of yet.
                    GO BRONCOS AFC Champs!!!
                    sigpic

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by duhyaj View Post
                      how has anyone "lost" free agecy less than a week in... specially since we lost trev who0 was good whne he was on the field and replaced fairly easily by the back ups we have when he wasn't (which was often) we lost Mailk who I didn't remember existed til this year, Peyton who I loved having here but played very poorly this year, and Oz who couldn't finish off games...

                      Don't see any of that as a loss of yet.
                      https://youtu.be/VEHH1Wgd5Dw

                      Mark playing with a great defense and guys that catch the ball...
                      [sigpic

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Taos_Broncomaniac View Post
                        https://youtu.be/VEHH1Wgd5Dw

                        Mark playing with a great defense and guys that catch the ball...
                        Enjoyed seeing Rivers exhale in frustration

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I am not sure what we lost either. By not paying these overpriced players, how did we lost. All these players we "lost" so far are being offered overpayments and are smart enough to accept it! I really hate to lose CJ, but 12 million dollars his first season///// In Elway I trust, I suspect he will have us back in the playoffs next season.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            WOW!!! The "East Coast Sports Media" sure is mad that the Broncos made them all look like fools when they picked Carolina to win the Superbowl.

                            Nothing else can explain this sort of inane, inaccurate, and incredibly obtuse article about a handful of FA players being signed at Contracts many times over their value.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by AugustInHouston View Post
                              Denver did 'get away' with really bad quarterbacking, BUT his name was Peyton Manning. Teams had to respect the fact he could turn it on and light it up any second. Now we know that didn't happen.

                              Apposing teanm's defenses will go into games against, possibly Sanchez, which makes a big difference. Denver's defense will go back on the field each series knowing the ship probably ain't gonna be righted and they will not be happy with their new workload. You have a Defense and Offensive unit for a reason. Asking your defende to win next season like they had to last season is your challenbge
                              How about we fix the O-line, get a real running game and insert a younger QB committed to the scheme and see where it goes from there.

                              It's a bit early to throw in the towel...
                              [sigpic

                              Comment

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