When the NFL free agency kicks off on March 18, the Broncos figure to be very active. For one, they have a lot of holes to fill, so there are plenty of reasons for John Elway to go shopping. But in addition, Denver’s general manager will have a lot of money to spend.
Currently, the Broncos are $58 million under the 2020 salary cap, but that number could grow to as high as $76 million once Ron Leary and Joe Flacco come off the books as expected. And if Elway really wants to get crazy, he can free up nearly $9 million in additional cap space by parting ways with Todd Davis and Jeff Heuerman.
How should the Broncos put all of those dollars to use? In the weeks leading up to the start of free agency, we’ll offer a position-by-position breakdown of the best players projected to be on the open market, as well as analysis of who would be a realistic fit in Denver.
It continues today with a position where the Broncos need to add some pieces – wide receiver. Courtland Sutton has blossomed into a Pro Bowl-caliber player, but there isn’t much else around him. Tim Patrick is a nice player and DaeSean Hamilton has shown flashes, but neither is a legit No. 2 wideout and this point flashes. So Denver really needs to add a weapon or two for Drew Lock to target in the passing game.
Top Five Available
1. Amari Cooper – The fourth-overall pick in 2015 by the Raiders, Cooper has been a very productive player during his first five seasons. He’s hauled in 357 catches for 5,097 yards and 33 touchdowns, had four 1,000-yard seasons and been to four Pro Bowls. So why is he potentially heading to his third team before he turns 25? That’s a fair question. It’s certainly not because of a lack of talent. He’ll have plenty of suitors, with teams expected to offer five years and roughly $100 million to land him.
2. A.J. Green – Green has been an outstanding player during his eight seasons in Cincinnati, posting six 1,000-yard campaigns and earning seven Pro Bowl invites. But this past year, he battled injuries and didn’t make it onto the field for a single snap. He’ll be 32 years old by the time the season starts, so that can’t be overlooked. That said, when healthy, Green is among the best in the business. He’ll be a player getting a lot of attention, but he’s only projected to fetch a contract in the two-year, $18-million range.
3. Robby Anderson – He doesn’t get as much attention as a lot of other wideouts, partly because his stats aren’t super glossy. He’s never had more than 63 catches or 941 yards in a season. And he’s only scored 20 touchdowns in four seasons. But all of that has to be put into context, as Anderson has played with a slew of quarterbacks, most of whom weren’t very good, during his time with the Jets. In the right system, with the right guy throwing passes, he could blossom. That’s why he’ll probably sign for four years and $50 million.
4. Emmanuel Sanders – Broncos fans are very familiar with this veteran wideout, as he spent four-and-a-half seasons in Denver, where he posted his three 1,000-yard seasons and went to a pair of Pro Bowls. Sanders turns 33 in March and has had his share of injuries the past couple of years. But between the Broncos and 49ers, where he was traded in October, he played in 17 games this past season, showing that he’s still a durable player. He knows how to get open and he can still make plays, which will earn him about $10 million per year.
5. Randall Cobb – After eight very productive years in Green Bay, Cobb spent the 2019 campaign in Dallas, where he caught 55 passes for 828 yards and three touchdowns. Those numbers proved that even at nearly 30 years old, and without Aaron Rodgers throwing him passes, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound wideout could be productive. He probably doesn’t have a lot of seasons left in him, but a team willing to offer him a two-year deal in the range of $15 million total would be able to land a guy who remains crafty in the middle of the field.
Realistic Options for the Broncos
1. Breshad Perriman – The former first-round pick of the Ravens has bounced around during his four-year career. Two seasons in Baltimore were followed by one in Cleveland and another in Tampa Bay. In his most-recent stop, Perriman finally found his sea legs, so to speak. Playing for Bruce Arians, Perriman was consistently productive for the first time in his career, catching 36 passes for 645 yards and six touchdowns. The gamble is whether 2019 was an aberration of the talented receiver has finally figured out how to be a pro.
2. Nelson Agholor – When he came out of USC in 2015, Agholor looked like a star in the making. He has all the physical traits of a great wide receiver, with good size, the ability to get open and decent speed. But for whatever reason, it’s never quite clicked in Philadelphia. He hasn’t been terrible during his five years with the Eagles (225 catches, 2,515 yards and 18 touchdowns), but he hasn’t been a game breaker. A change of scenery will probably due this talented wideout a ton of good.
3. Phillip Dorsett – After looking like a player who was starting to blossom during his first two seasons in Indianapolis, Dorsett found himself shipped to New England in the Jacoby Brissett trade. With the Patriots, he’s gotten caught up in the numbers game that is Josh McDaniels’ offense, where no one player seems to shine consistently. As a result, his numbers have been pretty anemic. That said, he’s a player who caught 33 passes for 528 yards, a whopping 16.2-yard per catch average, in his second season. There’s ability there.
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