The Broncos are acing free agency with a plan that makes perfect sense

Mar 15, 2023, 6:33 AM
Sean Payton...
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of free agency. It’s overpaying for players who were allowed to walk into the market by the teams that know them the best. The teams that “win” free agency often find themselves with buyer’s remorse long after the ink is dry on the contract.

Free agency is a necessary evil when it comes to building a football team. When it comes to the Broncos, I will place the emphasis on the word “necessary.”

For a team that is bereft of draft picks, the only way to roster build this offseason is through free agency. It’s not always a losing proposition. The Broncos free agent haul of 2014 is easily the greatest class in team history. Demarcus Ware. Aqib Talib. T.J. Ward. Emmanuel Sanders. Wow.

We all know what happened after that. John Elway the general manager peaked that day.

I’m not ready to go nearly that far with this current edition of Broncos’ free agent mercenaries. However, I really like what the Broncos have done so far.

Let’s start with what matters most.

The Walton-Penner group has a big stick and they’re not afraid to swing it. Hiring Sean Payton and paying him one of the biggest coaching salaries in the NFL and then dishing out $219 million dollars in one day is a double bicep flex that signals to the rest of the league that this ownership group isn’t screwing around. Isn’t this what we hoped for when we heard about the groups interested in buying the Broncos? Deep pockets. All due respect, but can anyone imagine a Brittany Bowlen-led Broncos organization spending like this?

I’ve written here before I love the Payton hire. I love the Parcells doctrine that he preaches. Build a team from the inside out. The initial moves signal this.

Mike McGlinchey at right tackle and Ben Powers at left guard are plug-and-play starters. Zach Allen should be close to the player Dre’Mont Jones was. I didn’t want to lose Jones, but if he really didn’t want to be here, then good riddance. At least Allen wants to be a Bronco, he’s familiar with Vance Joseph and he comes to Denver with an enthusiastic endorsement from one J.J. Watt. Add in re-signing tackling machine Alex Singleton and that is inside/outside roster building 101.

By the way, the continuing hot takes about this “all being about Russ” continues to be one of the dumbest, laziest arguments I’ve ever heard. This isn’t on Payton to fix Russ; it’s on Russ to fix Russ. If Russ can’t rebound from last year’s debacle, then he’s gone. Payton stays. So does McGlinchey, Powers and Allen. These were all moves that would’ve needed to be made regardless of who the quarterback was. So let’s dispense with that nonsense.

I even like the Jarrett Stidham signing. Here’s why. You’re stuck with Wilson this season. If he can’t be fixed, then you can move on. Life after Russ would be a bit of an unknown. But what you can do in the meantime is bring in a young developmental QB with some potential.

Anyone who saw Stidham carve up the 49ers late in the season would be blind not to see he’s got way more upside than future quarterbacks coach Brett Rypien. I also told you when Payton was hired, look at his Saints’ background. He doesn’t like to draft and develop QBs. He likes to take young veterans and rebuild and restore them. He did it with Teddy Bridgewater and Jameis Winston. If he endorses Stidham, then that is good enough for me.

The Stidham signing really has no downside. If Russ fails in his comeback bid, then you turn to Stids and start his Broncos/Payton developmental clock. If, as I and many others suspect, Wilson bounces back and the Broncos can feel confident about Russ moving forward, then hallelujah! Who really cares at that point who the backup is?

Free agency officially begins today. But the early returns suggest that the Broncos have already aced the test.



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