The Off-Season Outlook is a team-by-team series that will look at all 32 NFL teams and give a quick snapshot of everything fantasy relevant position as we enter the off-season. All salary cap estimates are taken from sportrac.com which I can’t vouch for enough. They are my one stop shop for all things contracts and cap space related. Feel free to send any feedback to @robbyjeffries on Twitter.
Team: Denver Broncos
Cap Space: $28,648,793 (16th most)
Round 1 Draft Picks: 5th Overall Pick
Fantasy Relevant Impending Free Agents:
Brock Osweiler, QB
Jamaal Charles, RB
Cody Latimer, WR
Bennie Fowler, WR (RFA)
The Denver Broncos started the season 3-1 and looked poised to content in a tough AFC West division. Coming out of their bye week in Week 5, they dropped eight games in a row and the realization that their QB of the future was not on their roster set in. The Broncos have a lot of money tied into their defense with Von Miller, Aqib Talib, and Chris Harris leading on their payroll. GM John Elway’s first order of business is to find an answer at the quarterback position either through the draft or free agency. The Broncos could also do with some upgrades to their offensive line, which they should look to in the draft given their cap situation.
QB: Finding little success with the trio of Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, and Brock Osweiler, Denver hopes to find its next quarterback of the future. I can see Elway wanting to draft his own guy, but this team is built to win now, and they need a proven veteran to take the reins. The hot commodity QB to fit that bill is Mr. You Like That himself, Kirk Cousins. Cousins has proven to be a top NFL QB and should finally get the deal he has been waiting for after being put on the franchise tag twice by Washington. The Broncos would likely need to create more cap room as they only have about $28 million and Cousins will command a heavy chunk of that. Von Miller’s base salary could be restructured so he earns more in later years and Denver could also cut running back CJ Anderson which will save them $4.5 million against the cap. Alex Smith could be a cheaper option if the funds don’t match up to nab Cousins. The Broncos could obviously also draft a quarterback of the future with their 5th overall draft pick, but there are just too many holes on that offensive line to go QB if they are able to get a vet like Cousins or Smith.
RB: CJ Anderson managed to reach his first 1,000-yard rushing milestone of his career in 2017, but had a mediocre 4.1 yards per carry. As I mentioned above, I think there’s a realistic chance Anderson becomes a cap cut if the Broncos go after Cousins. Jamaal Charles also figures to be gone after getting less than 100 touches on the year. That leaves Devonte Booker and D’Angelo Henderson as the only two backs on the roster. With such a deep rookie class at the position, I can see the Broncos looking at both Derrius Guice (LSU) and Nick Chubb (Georgia) as high upside RB to pair with Cousins.
WR: Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are one of the more underrated wide receiver tandems in the league as they had both had at least 1,000 yards receiving each year as a full-time starter for the Broncos. Both turned 30 this past year and also failed to reach that 1,000-yard mark. While this can mainly be attributed to poor quarterback play, there’s no denying that Denver will need to look at getting younger at this position. They are set for the next two years with both Thomas and Sanders under contract through 2019; however, with Cody Latimer most likely gone in free agency, the Broncos might take a shot on a WR later in the draft to add depth, a gamble on the speedster Antonio Callaway (Florida) might pay dividends after the Gator missed his entire junior season after being investigated for credit card fraud.
TE: Both Broncos’ leaders for tight end receptions are no longer on the roster as of this writing with AJ Derby cut in November and Virgil Green an impending free agent. 5th round pick from the 2017 draft Jake Butt missed the entire season after lingering effects of the ACL tear he suffered in the 2016 Orange Bowl. The Broncos have used their TEs sparingly since the departure of Peyton Manning and one would figure they would give Butt a chance to start after productive junior and senior seasons for Coach Jim Harbaugh.
2018 Lineup Prediction:
QB – Kirk Cousins
RB – Nick Chubb
WR – Demaryius Thomas
WR – Emmanuel Sanders
WR – Antonio Callaway
TE – Jake Butt