This article was written by Matt Petrero from Predominantly Orange
With March Madness on the horizon, hundreds of teams are looking to punch their dance cards. The NCAA basketball tournament is not the only dance in town though. On March 12th, the NFL’s free agency dance begins in earnest. The intriguing part of this doe-see-doe is whether or not you continue to dance with the dates you brought or if you cut in on others’ dance partners. The answer is in which kind of dancing one is interested.
For the Denver Broncos, their dance partner decisions will be based on who can do the “Big Boy Polka”, the “Cover-Two Step”, the “Slot Catch Boogie”, or the “Rock Tote Slam Dance” for not much more than a wine-and-dine dinner tab.
Big Boy Polka: the Broncos show up with defensive tackles Justin Bannan and Kevin Vickerson on either arm. Both players have served them well and could be re-signed for a decent dinner with a nice bottle of wine and some money left over for desert. In an article on Sports Illustrated, Jim Trotter outlines how Bannan, a standout at the University of Colorado, only got pressure on the QB 1.26% of the snaps he was on the field. Well with all due respect to Mr. Trotter, Bannan was not brought in to necessarily rush the QB; rather to clog up the middle and stop the run. It’s a task which he performed well. So drawing attention to that statistic is not representative of the player. The same could be said of Vickerson, a 7th round draft pick out of Michigan State in 2005.
Based on their ages, the interest will vary on the free agency market. Bannan will be 34-years-old when the 2013 season kicks off and Vickerson will be 30-years-old. Vickerson is likely to draw more suitors and garner a larger contract. So what I see happening is Denver inking Bannan to another one year deal and letting Vickerson walk. In keeping Bannan in the fold to defend the run, the Broncos will surely cut in on somebody else’s date. In addition to drafting from a strong pool of college players at the DT position in the upcoming draft, look for John Elway to wine and dine someone like Desmond Bryant from the Oakland Raiders, or Chris Canty from the New York Giants. All three of the potential dance partners can stymie the run and provide pressure up the middle. And that is something the Broncos do need to create more sack opportunities for Elvis Dumerville and Von Miller.
Cover-Two Step: We have all belabored the secondary failures ad-nauseum in the divisional playoff game and frankly, I’m still nausaeus over it. Especially since you really cannot point fingers at our three free agent dance partners, Jim Leonhard, David Bruton, and Tracy Porter. In fact, Porter didn’t even play in the game due to injury. With the Broncos young depth at DB (and yes, I include Rahim Moore in that equation) and the strong college stable of cornerback and safety, I can see Elway and Co. keeping one of ours (probably David Bruton due to his special teams contributions) and going after somebody else’s partner. One possible candidate for us to steal away might be a player like Dashon Goldson from the San Francisco 49ers or William Moore from the Atlanta Falcons, both safties. Since all indications from the Broncos front office is that Champ Bailey is not going to be moved from cornerback to safety, look for the powers-that-be to sure up a position that needs a little reinforcement. And in relation to Darelle Revis, it is my belief that the price and problems will be too high.
Slot Catch Boogie: One of the most important yet under-appreciated dances at the soiree is performed by the slot receivers. The Broncos have had a pretty darn good dance partner for four of the past six years in Brandon Stokely. In addition to settling in the Front Range with his family and having played four seasons for the Broncos, Stokely has played five seasons with Denver quarterback Peyton Manning. The familiarity with the system and the city is something that has Stokely desirous to stay put.
Thus, the Broncos might be able to keep a reliable receiver for just dinner, no wine required. If they decide to go in a different direction however, Wes Welker of the New England Patriots and Danny Amendola of the St. Louis Rams are currently shaking their tail feathers on the dance floor. Welker has been all-world in New England for the past six seasons and Tom Brady‘s favorite receiver. He will come with a heavy price tag. We might be looking at dinner, drinks, a Broadway play, and maybe even a piece of jewelry. Amendola is an intriguing option. He is the youngest of the three and coming off an injury-plagued season, he might provide the best value. He would give the Broncos more long-term production than both of the aforementioned options and while he might cost more than Stokely, he would probably be less expensive than Welker. Amendola was a big-play receiver for a less than explosive offense in St. Louis. The key to cutting in on Jeff Fisher‘s dance partner is whether or not the Broncos hierarchy feel that Amendola can stay healthy enough to make that commitment.
Rock Tote Slam Dance: So we’ve come to the final dance of the party. Quite possibly the most intriguing decision that the Broncos will make all off season. The only running back of note that John Elway is bringing to this dance is Lance Ball. Ball comes in as a versatile back and probably will only cost Denver dinner at a national chain restaurant. So bringing him back might make sense.
Then there has been the scuttlebutt circulating the dance hall that there is a chance that bothWillis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno might be released in an effort to get one or both to re-sign at a more cap-friendly number. This would be understandable since both have had their bouts with the injury bug (Moreno more so than McGahee) and also have had a proclivity to put the rock on the ground. Denver had one of the worst turnover ratios in the NFL last year. The Broncos roving eye could see them looking to woo away a back like Chris Ivoryfrom the New Orleans Saints. There has been much talk about the possibility of signing Steven Jackson from the Rams. The nine-year veteran from Oregon State would certainly provide plenty of slam to this dance and at 30 years old at the start of the 2013 season, he probably still has 2-3 years of solid production left. The price tag on Jackson might be a little steep for a 2-3 year deal where Ivory might be a little more of a bargain. Plus, Jackson has a bit of a history of being a disgruntled dance partner so for locker room harmony, again the nod goes to Ivory.
Well now that I have exhausted every dance metaphor and cliche’ in relation to the Broncos free agency dance party, all they have left to do is put on M-M-M-M-MY BOOGIE SHOES! (thank you K.C. & the Sunshine Band)