State of the Broncos: The 2021 Free Agent of the Year

Jan 14, 2022, 6:59 AM
(Graphic by Johnny Hart/Bonneville Denver)...
State of the Broncos

The Broncos finished the 2021 season with a 7-10 record. It was the team’s fifth-straight losing season. It also marked the sixth-consecutive year in which the franchise failed to make the playoffs.

As a result, Vic Fangio was shown the door. The head coach was 19-30 during his three seasons in Denver. And more change is sure to come.

But that doesn’t mean all was lost. There were still some bright spots during the 2021 campaign.

During the first week of the “State of the Broncos” series, it’s time to highlight some of the good things. It’s a chance to take a look at the positives that a new head coach can build upon.



George Paton has gotten a lot of credit for his first season in Denver. The Broncos general manager had a strong draft, made some shrewd moves and generally set the franchise up well for the future.

But in one area, Paton really struggled in 2021. When it came to his free-agent class, there weren’t a lot of hits.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying. The Broncos spent plenty of money on free agents, trying to fill holes on their roster with temporary solutions. But not many of them panned out.

Ronald Darby was probably the team’s biggest prize, signing a three-year, $30-million deal in the offseason. But he was just okay during his first year in Denver.

The cornerback has a history of injuries, something that plagued him in 2021, as well. In just 11 games, Darby failed to have an interceptions, but did post six passes defensed.

That’s a similar stat line to the one put up by Kyle Fuller. The cornerback was signed to a one-year deal, hoping to rekindle the magic he had playing in Vic Fangio’s defense in Chicago. It didn’t happen.

In 16 games, Fuller also failed to record an interception. He did have four passes defensed and 51 tackles, however.

Injuries also plagued Mike Boone, a change-of-pace running back signed from the Vikings. He appeared in just eight games, rushing four times for 35 yards and having two catches for 22 yards.

He did show flashes, however, particularly during training camp. If Melvin Gordon leaves this offseason via free agency, look for Boone to be an option as the backup to Javonte Williams.

One pleasant surprise was Eric Saubert. The tight end was brought in from Jacksonville to mainly be a blocker. But he did haul in eight passes during the season, including a touchdown. He got in the end zone more than Jerry Jeudy in 2021.

The most-reliable of the bunch was Bobby Massie. He was signed after Ja’Wuan James ruptured his achilles tendon, one of two veterans brought in to compete for the right tackle job. When healthy, it was Massie’s during the season.

On the year, he started 13 games and played well. Given how the Broncos have struggled to fill that position in recent years, simply having a steady option for most Sundays was a huge step in the right direction.

In 2021, the best free agent on the Broncos roster was Bobby Massie.



1. Bobby Massie
2. Ronald Darby
3. Eric Saubert
4. Kyle Fuller
5. Mike Boone


Corliss Waitman...
Andrew Mason

With Riley Dixon in, Corliss Waitman is out for Broncos at punter

Corliss Waitman was one-and-done as a Broncos punter, as the team rescinded its exclusive-rights contract tag.
20 hours ago
Riley Dixon...
Andrew Mason

Broncos bring back a former punter

Denver drafted Riley Dixon in 2016 — then jettisoned him two years later for Marquette King. Tuesday, they brought him back.
20 hours ago
Rashee Rice...
Cecil Lammey

The NFL Draft offers plenty of options for Broncos to upgrade at wideout

Denver seems intent on improving their wide receiver room, which is something they can accomplish with their limited picks in the draft
20 hours ago
Jerry Jeudy...
Will Petersen

The Broncos would be making a massive mistake by trading Jerry Jeudy

While the Broncos' brass may look at Jeudy as a trade asset, they should view it in a different lens; he's an asset to help Denver win right now
20 hours ago
Sean Payton...
Cecil Lammey

Orange and Blue Today – March 20, 2023

In This Episode: Cecil Lammey breaks down the latest news and notes for the Denver Broncos. Topics Include: why the Broncos checked in on WR Adam Thielen in free agency, what other spots on the roster need bolstered, a favorite in the NFL Draft, plus more! Follow @CecilLammey
2 days ago
Adam Thielen...
Andrew Mason

Broncos reached out to Adam Thielen before he signed with Panthers

The Broncos reached out to Thielen, less than one week after making a push for ex-Packers WR Allen Lazard.
2 days ago
State of the Broncos: The 2021 Free Agent of the Year