Jussel: Bronco Nation fantasy
It’s the perfect Denver Bronco world, a bright sunshiny mid-March day at Dove Valley, and John Elway, the team’s resident legend and current boss of everything, is sitting behind his desk.
He already has more than an inkling he is about to pull off a few more of those Peyton Manning-type shockers.
Elway, you see, has already agreed with the New York Jets on a trade, giving up a second-round draft choice in the upcoming National Football League draft and another third-rounder next year for all-universe cornerback Darrelle Revis.
He has chatted with the agent of slot receiver Wes Welker, and the agent has taken Elway’s offer back to Welker for rubber-stamp approval.
Richard Seymour, the former Oakland monster in the middle, has also agreed to come to the Broncos because he simply loved the atmosphere at New Mile High when he was a Patriot and a Raider. And he also mentioned the fact he wanted to play for a contender after several years of struggling with the Oakland demise.
Steven Jackson, the longtime Ram standout, has voided the final year of his contract and called you-know-who and begged — yes, begged — for a chance to become the Bronco running back of the immediate future.
Yes, Elway is smiling big time, showing off all those pearly whites as only a man constantly holding a royal flush can do.
And it only gets better.
Elway’s secretary buzzes and says he has a phone call “from a Mr. Charles Woodson.”
Yes, things are as close to perfect as can be in Bronco Nation.
And if you believe any or all of that, I’ve got a near-new 2007 Chevy Avalanche I’ll sell you for only 50 grand.
Yes, it’s difficult not to get excited on an hourly basis as speculation runs rampant on the NFL free-agent front.
The comings and goings of NFL big names are going to pop up like so many green leaves in the next couple of weeks, and the Broncos may grab onto one or two.
But don’t look for any or all of the above to happen.
For one thing, Revis will cost too much money. He is trade bait, sure, but Denver would have to pay him a ton and give up plenty in terms of current personnel or draft choices.
Welker will be a Patriot again. Tom Brady just took a hefty pay cut in order to keep some of his teammates, and Welker is only his favorite receiver ever.
Seymour, Jackson and, yes, Woodson, are all long of tooth, over many hills and will become Broncos only in the event they want to play for near the veteran minimum wage. There are too many teams out there with too much salary-cap space to allow those stars to sign for virtually nothing.
Denver will have somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million to mess with when it comes to signing free agents. Teams like the Browns, Dolphins, Bengals and Colts will have up to $50 million that they have to spend.
The Broncos signed their big-name free agent a year ago, and his name is Manning.
Bronco Nation is not going to be capable of another big-money signing like that unless Manning pulls a Brady and goes to work this next season or two for roughly half of what he has already agreed to. Papa John’s pizzas aren’t selling that well.
Instead, Elway, Manning and the rest of the Broncos will go about this process the right way: They will re-sign the people off their roster they think need to be taken care of.
I’m thinking that means Kevin Vickerson and Justin Bannan at defensive tackles. There just isn’t much better than that available, as I’ve mentioned before.
They will take care of Brandon Stokley one more time at slot receiver.
They will give Willis McGahee a chance to prove he is healthy; ditto for Knowshon Moreno.
The biggest shake-up will take place on the offensive line, where Orlando Franklin will be moved inside to right guard (it just makes too much sense not to do that), and second-year man Philip Blake will give veteran J.D. Walton a battle to start at center. The Broncos will spend money on a veteran right tackle to replace Franklin.
Other free agents?
Sure, there will be several signed. But it will be, with the obvious Manning exception, more of what we saw last season by targeting relatively low-cost veterans who will fill specific needs.
So, don’t go overboard on the rumor mill when it comes to free agents.
Something will happen, just nothing like what you may have read near the start of this diatribe.
Rick Jussel is a former Daily Sentinel sports editor (think Dark Ages) and Grand Junction High School journalism teacher who belongs in the Armchair Quarterback Hall of Fame, if only there was one.