The Broncos haven’t just been patching roster holes during free agency

Mar 20, 2023, 6:00 AM | Updated: 8:53 am

Zach Allen...

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

At first glance, the Broncos big spending in free agency makes perfect sense. Because of the trades for Russell Wilson and Sean Payton, Denver only has five draft picks in April, with none in the first two rounds. So if they’re going to patch holes on the roster, writing checks in March is their only viable route.

And the players they’ve signed seem to suggest that’s exactly what they’re doing. Nearly every weak spot has been addressed.

Right tackle? The Broncos signed Mike McGlinchey.

Left guard. Ben Powers is the answer.

Defensive line? Zach Allen will replace Dre’Mont Jones.

Running back? Samaje Perine is a perfect bridge until Javonte Williams returns.

The list goes on and on. Check. Check. Check.

But that’s not all the Broncos have done during free agency. They’ve also used the start of the new league year to overhaul the culture in the locker room.

Players who have been problematic in the past have been shown the door. Ones from winning organizations have been added to the roster.

The low point of last season was the Broncos debacle on Christmas Day in Los Angeles. In front of a national TV audience, Denver lost 51-14 to the Rams, in a game not as close as that score would indicate.

As bad as the on-field results were, however, they weren’t the biggest embarrassment of the day. That came on the sidelines, during two separate events.

First, Dalton Risner and Brett Rypien got into a shoving match. Then, Graham Glasgow was seen rolling his eyes at Wilson’s pep talk.

All three are now former Broncos.

So is Jones. While the defensive end was a productive player last season, his production dropped off in a big way after the bye week. He had just five tackles, one sack and one tackle for a loss in five games before sitting out the final four games of the season with an injury.

It was no secret that Jones was unhappy during that time. He was upset that Bradley Chubb was traded to the Dolphins. And he was angered that he hadn’t been inked to a new contract.

Jones is now a former Bronco.

During the debacle in Los Angeles on Christmas, Courtland Sutton was caught by television cameras as he threw a tantrum when the ball didn’t come his way. This is the same guy who once got in a training camp fight with Emmanuel Sanders, a fellow wide receiver.

Not surprisingly, there are reports that Sutton has been on the trading block. The Broncos would love to rid themselves of his hefty contract, as well as his antics.

Jerry Jeudy has also been in trade conversations, according to reports. The wideout nearly got suspended last season for bumping an official. He’s also the king of the cryptic tweet.

That stuff doesn’t fly with Payton. He said so in his introductory press conference. But he’s speaking even louder with his personnel moves.

The new head coach is shipping out bad apples. He’s moving on from players who have been a part of the losing culture that has suffocated the Broncos since 2017.

In their place, he’s bringing in players who have largely been a part of winning teams. Payton is adding guys who know what it takes to win.

Perine went to a Super Bowl with the Bengals. McGlinchey played in the NFC title game last season with the 49ers. Powers was part of a Ravens team that is a perennial playoff contender. Allen drew rave reviews from former teammate J.J. Watt when he signed with the Broncos.

The dots aren’t hard to connect. Yes, the newly added players are likely upgrades on the field. But that almost seems secondary. They’re also huge improvements in the locker room and on the practice field.

It’s unfair to blame all of the Broncos losing in recent years on Jones, Risner, Glasgow and Rypien. But they certainly weren’t part of the solution.

Payton came to that conclusion. So he moved on from all of them, with others perhaps to follow.

Yes, the Broncos have lost because of a lack of talent in recent years. Coaching has also been a huge issue. But those weren’t the only problems.

The Broncos have had a culture issue. They’ve had too many bad attitudes, too many guys who put things other than winning at the top of their to-do list.

The purge has begun. Sean Payton isn’t messing around.



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The Broncos haven’t just been patching roster holes during free agency