by Ryan Lasal
Is John Elway the worst GM in football? This is a legitimate question that people should consider when looking at what the Broncos have done this off-season heading into the draft. The honest answer is, it depends on what Dave Gettleman does as a sequel to the Odell Beckham trade. That being said, Elway has made some head-scratching decisions during his nine years at the helm, especially at the quarterback position. That continued this off-season.
Denver currently has just over $11.8m in cap space, which is surprising considering the roster that has been put together. That, of course, tends to happen when you are paying two players a combined $43.6m. Von Miller is an astounding $25m cap hit this season. The Broncos are also paying Case Keenum, Brandon Marshall, and Demaryius Thomas a combined $14.5m just to go away. Replacing Keenum with Joe Flacco has added another $18m to the cap, which means the Broncos have allocated a whopping $27.8m to the QB position and only have Joe Flacco and Kevin Hogan at the position to show for it. It’s almost impressive that a former QB can be as bad at evaluating the QB position as Elway is.
The Broncos had 19 players from 2018 that became free agents this offseason. To date, the team has brought back four of those players, TE Jeff Heuerman, DL Zach Kerr, QB Kevin Hogan, and LS Casey Kreiter. The team lost some high profile players including C Matt Paradis (CAR), OG Billy Turner (GB), CB Bradley Roby (HOU), OLB Shaq Barrett (TB), and ILB Brandon Marshall (OAK/LA/LV). So how have the Broncos done in filling the holes left by 15 departures from 2018? The team traded for QB Joe Flacco, and signed *checks notes* 31-year-old CB Kareem Jackson and made Ja’Wuan James the highest paid RT in the NFL. Woo-boy. Are those thoughts about Elway as a GM starting to make sense yet?
The Broncos enter the 2019 draft with eight picks, one in each round with an extra fifth-round pick. Elway needs to turn at least three of those eight picks into starters if he wants this team even to have a chance at contending in 2019 and possibly saving his job as GM. With Joe Flacco now on the roster, the Broncos can make a case for not taking a QB this year and instead of waiting for 2020 when the QB crop appears to be robust. That makes Denver a prime trade down candidate if Haskins or Lock fall to their 10th pick. Look for Miami and Cincinnati to pick up the phone if that’s the case. Elway would be wise to take any offer he can for 10 and stockpile picks. If the Broncos stay at 10, look for them to add a weapon on the offensive side of the ball in the form of TE TJ Hockenson or WR DK Metcalf.
The 10th pick is also a prime spot to try and replace Brandon Marshall as LB Devon Bush should still be available there. Moving further into the draft, the Broncos have to find a way to add offensive weapons at both the TE and WR positions. The offensive line should be a priority as well, specifically at the interior offensive line positions. On the defensive side of the ball, the safety position needs attention. Ultimately though, there are too many holes and not enough picks for Elway to plug them all.