Jussel: Elway has plenty of questions to answer during offseason
John Elway’s offseason to-do list:
1. Replace the sign on the office desk that says John Elway, executive vice president/football operations with something more manageable: John Elway, general manager.
Good. Straight to the point.
2. Have a sit-down with head coach John Fox and make the mutual decision to stay the course ... or not.
With Jack Del Rio just re-signed for two seasons as defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator Adam Gase recently turning down an offer to interview for the head coaching job in Cleveland, perhaps a contract extension is in order for Fox that would bring that much more stability to the management team at Dove Valley.
3. Bring in Peyton Manning and Gase for a lengthy conversation about the offensive side of things, wide-ranging to say the least.
Record-setting last season. How do we improve on that?
What does Peyton want? What more does he need? What happened against Seattle in the Super Bowl?
Very specifically, Peyton, do you want wide receiver Eric Decker back, and, if so, do you want him for $7, $8 or $9 million a year, meaning someone else is going to have to go?
Also, Peyton, how important is wide receiver Wes Welker to you? Is he worth the $8 million he will be paid? Or do we bring in new wide receivers at more reasonable (read cheaper) rates, allowing us to spend big bucks elsewhere?
4. While these two, Manning and Gase, are in the room, let’s make a couple other decisions:
First, running backs. Is Montee Ball the answer? How much will free agent Knowshon Moreno make on the open market? How much are we willing to pay him to stay and split time with Ball?
Next, let’s think about the offensive line that was overrun by Seahawks. Is free-agent guard Zane Beadles worth keeping, or are there better options? Remember, we brought in free agent guard Louis Vasquez last season, and all he did was become the best guard in the AFC.
From what we hear, that Richie Incognito is an animal. Oops, politically incorrect.
Also, what are we going to do with Ryan Clady coming back at left tackle? Do we keep Chris Clark, move him to another position or think about a trade? Everybody needs a starting left tackle.
5. Now, it’s time to switch gears to the defensive side and hold a sit-down with Del Rio. We need upgrades everywhere, and we have free agents galore.
First, let’s talk DRC, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Great season on the island at cornerback. We obviously want him back, but he’s going to command a ton of money. Is he worth whatever the market will bear?
Then, there’s Champ. What about Mr. Bailey? He’s due lots of money. Will he come back in a reduced role as a corner, will he move to safety, or will he once again man the left corner against any and all comers?
Or do we simply tell him his time has come and hand his duties to Chris Harris?
As for the safety spots, we’ve got Rahim Moore coming back and Duke Ihenacho with a year of experience. Mike Adams is a free agent but would surely return for small change.
Do we splurge with a free agent, stand pat or depend on the draft?
Other items to tidy up: middle linebacker; pass rushers like Shaun Phillips, a rental free-agent find last season who turned in a super year; Von Miller and his ACL; and a slew of linemen who went down but should be back.
Oh yes, Pot Roast, Terrance Knighton, turned into a late-season sensation in the middle and now reportedly wants to be paid like it.
6. Yes, questions galore about our current roster. We’ve talked with coaches and some players and identified problem spots and situations. Now, we need to meet with Matt Russell and Tom Heckert, our personnel experts, and come up with a list of free agents to target, then continue scouting college talent.
7. Yikes! We need tickets and hotel rooms in Indianapolis, for this week. It’s the scouting combine, with all that beef on display.
Somebody grab the stopwatches. Don’t forget the tape measures.
We’ve got to go find a first-round draft choice!
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. His Denver Broncos-related columns also are published on SI.com’s “Predominantly Orange” and “Fan-sided” websites through the football season and beyond.