Things were supposed to be better for the Denver Broncos last season. After a blockbuster trade to acquire quarterback Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks, the Broncos were widely expected to be right there with the Kansas City Chiefs mixing it up for the AFC West title. Instead, the team finished with a 5-12 record, last place in the division for the fourth season in a row.
The Broncos begin 2023 with another reset, luring Sean Payton out of a one-year break from coaching with an eye toward getting the most out of Wilson and the offense. While that might just end up being their splashiest move of the offseason, don’t expect Denver to stop there. They’ve got a number of needs to fill once free agency begins in March.
Denver has about $9.3 million in cap space, according to Over the Cap, but that number is likely to change ahead of the new league year with contract restructures and cuts.
Denver Broncos free agency preview
Interior offensive line
Players to target
The best free agents are usually the ones a team re-signs. That’s certainly the case with guard Dalton Risner, whose rookie contract is up. A dependable interior offensive lineman entering the prime of his career, Risner’s name appears on more than a few top 50 lists for free agents this year, and he’ll command a hefty deal if he makes it to the open market. With limited cap space and no draft picks until the third round, the Broncos would be wise to keep Risner on the roster.
If they re-sign Risner and let offensive tackle Billy Turner walk, Kaleb McGary would be an excellent replacement on the right side.
Defensive end Dre’Mont Jones is another potential free agent who the Broncos would be wise to re-sign this year. The 25-year-old edge rusher led the team with 6.5 sacks this season while being asked to help fill the void left by Von Miller.
The Broncos might end up having to let defensive lineman DeShawn Williams walk in free agency. If they want to make a headline move to replace him, they could target someone like Javon Hargrave from the Eagles or Daron Payne from Washington, both premier d-linemen who could be on the market this spring.
Some less heralded moves could really help with the overall depth chart. Given the state of Wilson’s play last year, Denver could really use a more reliable backup quarterback. Baker Mayfield’s price is probably out of their budget after his strong stint with the Rams to end the season, but he’d be a premium insurance policy if Payton can’t get Wilson’s career back on track.
With Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton, the Broncos don’t need a major investment at wide receiver, but you do wonder if they’d look for a more reliable replacement for KJ Hamler, who’s battled injuries that kept him off the field for most of the last two seasons. There are some interesting names out there for slot receivers this year; someone like Jamison Crowder comes to mind.