The 2012-13 season is over, and the 2013-14 season begins during the afternoon of March 12th when NFL Free Agency officially begins. Looking ahead, which free agents should the Broncos front office target that could put the team on top? Let’s take a quick sneak peak at a few key free agents I’d like the Broncos to take a good, long look at in this year’s class.
The Broncos are going to need to have a very strong outing in the 2013 NFL Free Agency. This is going to be Peyton’s second year as quarterback for the Broncos, and there needs to be an even better product behind him to get Denver to the Super Bowl in NYC, whether that be through the draft or free agency. As good of a season as the Broncos had, next year needs to be that much better. Luckily enough, this year’s NFL Free Agent Class is pretty deep.
Before we take a look at the guys that the Broncos should go after, to start things off, let’s take a few players off the list that I think the Broncos should NOT go after.
First off, Brian Urlacher.
Urlacher is 34 years old and entering his 13th season in the NFL. He would most definitely fill the leader role that has seemed to be missing on defense in the past few years, and would be a good complement at middle linebacker, but his age and recent history with injuries would only hurt the Broncos in a season where every player has to be on top of their game if they want to win the Super Bowl. Let’s not forget that Urlacher has been with the Bears for his entire career, and would only leave Chicago for 8 digits per year, and that’s not the kind of the money the Broncos want to use their cap space on.
Another player I think the Broncos should NOT target, is Mike Wallace.
Wallace is 26 years old and entering his 5th season in the NFL. He’s been a very consistent deep threat for the Steelers, and has had two 1,000 yard seasons in the black and gold. He has over 4,000 yards and 32 touchdowns in only 4 years. So with those great numbers, why not go after Mike Wallace? Well, this scenario is more of why the Broncos won’t go after Mike Wallace, versus why they shouldn’t. If there was no salary cap in the NFL, and the Broncos could give Wallace whatever he wanted, then sure, why not. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Wallace held out of OTA’s and training camp for the Steelers last season, wanting a contract similar to what Vincent Jackson got with the Bucs. That means that Wallace wants a long-term deal, and somewhere in the range of $11 million per season. That’s not the kind of the money the Broncos are looking to throw at a No. 1 receiver, especially when they aren’t looking for a top dog receiver right now. If anything, the Broncos are looking to add a depth receiver behind DT and Decker, and Wallace doesn’t fit that mold.
Now, what really matters is.. Who SHOULD the Broncos target?
Let’s start with the Broncos priority headed into the offseason, and that would be in the secondary.
Woodson is 36 years old, and entering his 15th season in the NFL. I can already imagine what most of you are saying after reading me list Woodson’s name before Ed Reed’s in terms of secondary free-agent targets. Reed is the same kind of situation such as Urlacher and Wallace. Like Urlacher, Reed has been with one team for his entire career, and will be looking for double digits in terms of millions if he is to leave Baltimore, and like Wallace, he will be asking for much more than he’s worth. But unlike Ed Reed, Woodson won’t really be asking or getting nearly as much as he’s worth. Woodson is entering the last couple years of his career, and has already moved from cornerback to safety due to his age. Yes, I realize that the Broncos would be adding another “elderly” player to an already aged secondary, but with the type of respect that Woodson gets on the field, would teams really be anxious to throw in his or Champ’s area of the field? Maybe. But how often can we say that the Broncos could add a player that could mentor Champ Bailey? As funny as that sounds, it’s actually true. We all saw Champ get burned quite a few times downfield last season, and many wonder if his days at cornerback are numbered, and if he’s closer to moving to safety. Well, Charles Woodson has already made that transition, and if nothing else, could help mentor the very same position change for Champ.
Another target for the Broncos is one of the following.
Steven Jackson or Ahmad Bradshaw.
Now, I say Jackson OR Bradshaw, because the Broncos wouldn’t add both. But I think either of the two would be a good pick-up. Obviously Jackson would be a much bigger splash in this 2013 NFL Free Agent class, but Bradshaw is also a good target. Steven Jackson is 29 years old and entering his 10th season in the NFL. I can’t even handle the fact that Jackson is a free agent to be. He’s had at least 1,000 yards rushing in 8 of his 9 seasons in the NFL, and his only season with under 1K was in 2004, which was his rookie year. Jackson is an absolute workhouse. He’s an every down kind of guy, and he’s a rare specimen that has power, and elite skills. As one of the strongest backs in the league, he’s been a tad overlooked, having played for the Rams his entire career. Now unlike Urlacher and Wallace, he is most definitely worth whatever amount he’ll be looking for. And the kind of money that Jackson will be making in his next contract will have him a very wealthy man. Now, if Jackson gets an offer from a desperate team that is just too much for the Broncos to match, then I think the Broncos should go after Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw is 26 years old and entering his 7th season in the NFL. Not as great of a running back like Jackson or other top guys in the NFL, Bradshaw still provides the power and skill level worthy of an every down back, if he’s healthy. And that has been a question in his career. He’s never missed more than 4 games in any single season with the Giants, but has caught the injury bug enough to worry his suitors. The only reason that Bradshaw is available in the 2013 free agent class, is because of the emergence of Giants rookie RB David Wilson, who stole away the starting job for the future. Either Bradshaw or Jackson would be a great signing for the Broncos, as I am just uncomfortable with the current situation in the backfield for the orange and blue.
One more target I think the Broncos should take a good look at, is Dwight Freeney.
Freeney provides a very interesting possibility. Just like Peyton’s years in Indy, they came to “awkward” close for Dwight Freeney. With the surprisingly great season that the Colts had in 2012 behind rookie QB Andrew Luck, I definitely didn’t predict them cutting their defensive leader. Freeney is 32 years old and entering his 11th season in the NFL. He has spent his entire career with the Colts, but is now looking for a new home. And with a possible reunion with Peyton, why not the Broncos? If you’re questioning this proposition, just think of what the defense could be like. With the orange crush defense 2.0 that already consists of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, you could be adding another very good pass rusher in Freeney. It makes sense for two main reasons. One, it’s Dwight Freeney, and he could add to an already stellar pass rush. And two, the Broncos could move Derek Wolfe back to defensive tackle, and insert Freeney right in at left defensive end. That also sort of mends the issue of the missing link of leader, as Freeney helped lead the Colts to their Super Bowl win in 2007.
Those are a few possible free agents the Broncos could take a look at. A few other notable free agents that the Broncos could take a look at in the 2013 class are LB Rey Maualuga, S Jarius Byrd, and DT Richard Seymour. Feel free to comment below or tweet me @AnthonyRod33 with who you think the Broncos should target in 2013 NFL Free Agency.