With NFL free agency in full effect, the Denver Broncos are starting to make it clear that the time to win is now. Following their crushing defeat to the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XVLIII, the Broncos have added several free agent additions on the defensive end to go along with their historic offense.
In a span of 24 hours, John Elway and the Denver Broncos plucked three defensive players off of the NFL free agency truck and signed them to contracts. The Broncos started off their free agency plunge by signing former Cleveland Brown strong safety T.J. Ward. Ward had the best season of his career with the Browns last year and he was rewarded for it as he was selected to his first ever Pro Bowl. The Broncos signed the 27-year-old safety to a four-year deal worth $23 million with $14 million guaranteed.
For the second year in a row, the Broncos acquired a marquee free agent from the New England Patriots. Aqib Talib followed in the offseason footsteps of Wes Welker as he signed with the Denver Broncos. Talib was the main shutdown cornerback for the Patriots last season and proved that he can provide man-to-man coverage on any receiver in the league.
Talib’s contract with the Broncos is for six years and is worth $57 million, $26 million of which is guaranteed. While Talib is no doubt an outstanding defensive player, he has suffered from an array of injuries in recent years, as well as some off the field issues during his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Perhaps the biggest name free agent signing so far was Demarcus Ware. The Dallas Cowboys released the defensive end on Tuesday in order to save room on their salary cap. He has spent his entire nine year career with the Cowboys and left as the franchises all-time leader in sacks with 117. Ware was selected to the Pro Bowl in every year during a span that stretched from 2006-2012
Once Ware passes the Broncos physical testing, he will be signed to a three-year contract worth $30 million with $20 million guaranteed. With Peyton Manning turning 38 in a few weeks, John Elway and the Denver Broncos realize that their time to win is now. If the Broncos were not already favorites to make it out of the AFC next season, they certainly will be now.
But before Roger Goodell cancels the next NFL season and hands the Broncos the Vince Lombardi trophy, it would be wise to remember that football is a team game. While all these defensive players are excellent individual players, it is not a given that they will have chemistry on the field. A perfect example of this would be the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles made a splash in the 2011 offseason by acquiring defensive end Jason Babin and cornerback’s Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. With Michael Vick as their starting quarterback, this particular Eagles squad was dubbed a “Dream Team” before the regular season even started. The 2011 Eagles team finished with a record of 8-8 and missed the playoffs.
However, the Broncos have one luxury that the 2011 Eagles did not, and that is the services of one Peyton Manning. After losing in Super Bowl XLVIII, expect Manning to do all that he can to ensure that this year’s Broncos squad is ready to win and to win now.
Commentary By Eric Kummel