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Looking Forward to 2021

fightinredantz

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Given this season has not been near what we had thought or hoped it would be I thought it might be a decent time to start looking forward to 2021 and the players we maybe relying on to turn the corner. Don't get me wrong, I have hope for some good things for the rest of the season, but playoffs are not a realistic thought, so in reality we are playing for 2021 at this point.

First looking at what I would project the starting line up to be next year at this point:
Offense:
QB: Drew Lock - Some may not like this but I have heard several times that even with the results this year Drew has grown and improved. I am no expert, but think his future may hinge on his play over the remaining games this season.
RB: Mevin Gordon/Phillip Lindsay - We have not seen what this group can do yet due to injuries and illness. I don't see anyway Phillip doesn't come back (he is an RFA), and would not be surprised to Gordon back. If we decide to move on from Gordin we would have 6.5 million in dead money, and only save 2.5 million.
WR: Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and KJ Hamler - This is a solid group and could be lethal, but needs to have better play then we have seen from the Oline and QB.
TE: Noah Fant, Albert Okwuegbunam, Nick Vannet, Anthony Beck - I really like the the Fant and Okwuegbunam combination and believe they could end up being a dominate TE duo. Nick Vannett doesn't do much for me and there is a potential we could move on given only $875,000 dead money and a saving so $2.7 million. Beck should be back given his versatility and cheap contract at $850,000.
LT: ? - The first questionable position on the team. Bolles is a free agent but has played very well this year, but Denver may have decide between resigning Bolles and several other players. Not all will return. We do not have anyone on the team that I would be comfortable elevating to the starting lineup at this time, and signing an FA LT is expensive. So potentially a draft pick to fill this spot? Not thrilled. Hopefully we can resign Bolles for a fairly team friendly contact.
LG: Dalton Risner - He is young and going into the 3rd year of his rookie contract.
C: Lloyd Cushenberry III - He is young and seems to be improving based on what I hear, again no expert here.
RG: Graham Glasgow - We really can't walk away form him due to the cap it, so we will ahve another year of him. We do have Netane Muti who I would think could be a candidate to be the RG at some point.
RT: Ja'Wuan James - He is another guy that costs more to cut then keep at his point. We have him under contract for 2021 and 2022 as he was not a high risk opt out, so his contract carries. Hopefully we can get a good season out of him. Jake Rodgers would be his back up at this point. Elijah Wilkinson and Demar Dotson are both free agents.

Defense:
LDE: Jurrell Casey - No question here. Looking forward to him playing a full year next year.
NT: Mike Purcell - He is a difference maker in the run game. Just signed an extension.
RDE: Dre'Mont Jones - Shelby Harris is a FA again, and would be considered a luxury signing at this piont.
WLB: Bradley Chubb - No issues with Bradley here.
LILB: Alexander Johnson - He is an RFA, but 0 chance we let him walk IMHO.
RILB: Josey Jewell/Justin Strnad - I think these 2 will compliment each other well.
SLB: Von Miller? - Von has an $19 million option that has to be picked up. Maybe we can redo his contract to a more favorable cap number and a couple additional years. With the how well Malik Reed has been playing do we pay Von $19 million next year? As much as I and everyone like Von it is not unrealistic that his is his last year in Denver.
LCB: AJ Bouye - He will be here next year as there is no saving to cut, and he has not played that badly this year. It has been more an issue of staying on the field which has been a problem up and down the roster.
RCB: Bryce Callahan - He has been very good for us after not playing in 2019. He did miss the Atlanta game which hurt, but I don't see any reason he would not be on the roster next year.
SS: Kareem Jackson??? - KJack has been a stud since he has been here but we would need to pick up his $11 Million option. I don't see a younger guy ready to step in for KJack so I would think he would be back.
FS: ??? - Simmons is one of my favorite players, and I don't doubt that we want him back, but we couldn't work out the a contract last year and with salary cap dropping to $175 Million not sure we will be able to sign him in this offseason.

One thing I think we have seen is that depth across the team could be better, but one of those reserves are getting some reps and experience which hopefully will help going into 2021. Right now we look to have $30.4 million in cap space which may give us some options to get some contracts done. It will be interesting to see how teams handle the new $175 Million salary cap. There are currently 7 teams more then 10 Million over the cap for next year with the Saints the most at $95.6 Million. For those that might wonder about our division the cap space is as follows:
  • Kansas City Chiefs: Over $15.3 Million with 34 players signed
  • Las Vegas Raiders: Over $6.3 Million with 39 players signed
  • Denver Broncos: Under $30.4 million with 39 players signed
  • Los Angles Changers: Under $33.4 with 32 players signed
Let's look at the coaches now.
HC: Vic Fangio - Before the Raider game I was fairly confident that he would return in 2021, but the Broncos appeared to quit on him for the first time. Unfortunately I don't get to see the game against the Dolphins as it is not televised in my area. If we start seeing that the team is giving up in games, there maybe a change. At this point I will say we give him a 3rd year.
OC: Pat Shurmur - I am really not happy with how the offensive play calling is going, but at some point we need to stop making changes in the coaching staff to allow guys to learn and adjust to the coaching and the coaching to learn and adjust to the players. I am not sure that Shurmur is that guy.
DC: Ed Donatell - He will be here as long as Vic is.

At this point I think we might be best to hold the course and see what improvements can be made going into 2021. If it falls apart again then hopefully the ownership issue will be resolved and decisions can be made from top down, and Elway's contract is up after next year if I remember correctly so we we can blow it all up from the GM down.
 

nflbronco

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With limited fans and after this game no fans again. I don't see how we can afford to fire Vic after season even if we go 3-13 this year. Elway in his last year too. I think FO will stay the course in 21. I do think we will move on in 22.
 

Duffman

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The only way I see us firing Fangio is if we somehow already have it worked out that we’s sign Eric Bienemy, or get someone like Jim Harbaugh. Any other coach I don’t see us risking or messing up the team chemistry status quo for.
 

fightinredantz

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The only way I see us firing Fangio is if we somehow already have it worked out that we’s sign Eric Bienemy, or get someone like Jim Harbaugh. Any other coach I don’t see us risking or messing up the team chemistry status quo for.

I will pass on Jim Harbaugh. Eric Bienemy would be interesting, but if we hire him then we as fans and the front office will need to have patience. First time head coaches are a lot like young QBs and take some time to grow into the job. Eric Bienemy is about the only assistant that I would consider, and I am not sure I make the change as this team really needs some consistency in the coaching staff. If we end up with a new OC for 2021 then it will be the 3rd OC Lock has had in as many years. That is tough on a young QB who is trying to develop, and who knows if we have a normal offseason in 2021, at this point I would doubt it. I am hoping for a version of OTAs where maybe the offense meets for a set and the defense can meet for their set. Anything to keep these guys in the building and working with coaches. On offense there needs to be more time to get some of the timing down. I think we have seen some growth between Lock and Jeudy and Hamler, but obviously so for there is not enough production on the offensive side of the ball. I often wonder how much of this team's struggles is due to pressing. A lot of young guys on offense that are still trying to learn their way in the NFL, and there was some expectations that they were going to be improved this year. That has not worked out record wise anyway, and it is up to those that are smarter then I with way more information as to if this team is better, just lacking the results.

One thing I was wondering last night and looked up was our average points per game, and it has risen to 20.7. Now a lot of those points are coming in the second half when we are down by multiple scores, but there is some improvement in the points per game, even if it is a bit artificial.
 

Mingo

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Given this season has not been near what we had thought or hoped it would be I thought it might be a decent time to start looking forward to 2021 and the players we maybe relying on to turn the corner. Don't get me wrong, I have hope for some good things for the rest of the season, but playoffs are not a realistic thought, so in reality we are playing for 2021 at this point.

First looking at what I would project the starting line up to be next year at this point:
Offense:
QB: Drew Lock - Some may not like this but I have heard several times that even with the results this year Drew has grown and improved. I am no expert, but think his future may hinge on his play over the remaining games this season.
RB: Mevin Gordon/Phillip Lindsay - We have not seen what this group can do yet due to injuries and illness. I don't see anyway Phillip doesn't come back (he is an RFA), and would not be surprised to Gordon back. If we decide to move on from Gordin we would have 6.5 million in dead money, and only save 2.5 million.
WR: Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and KJ Hamler - This is a solid group and could be lethal, but needs to have better play then we have seen from the Oline and QB.
TE: Noah Fant, Albert Okwuegbunam, Nick Vannet, Anthony Beck - I really like the the Fant and Okwuegbunam combination and believe they could end up being a dominate TE duo. Nick Vannett doesn't do much for me and there is a potential we could move on given only $875,000 dead money and a saving so $2.7 million. Beck should be back given his versatility and cheap contract at $850,000.
LT: ? - The first questionable position on the team. Bolles is a free agent but has played very well this year, but Denver may have decide between resigning Bolles and several other players. Not all will return. We do not have anyone on the team that I would be comfortable elevating to the starting lineup at this time, and signing an FA LT is expensive. So potentially a draft pick to fill this spot? Not thrilled. Hopefully we can resign Bolles for a fairly team friendly contact.
LG: Dalton Risner - He is young and going into the 3rd year of his rookie contract.
C: Lloyd Cushenberry III - He is young and seems to be improving based on what I hear, again no expert here.
RG: Graham Glasgow - We really can't walk away form him due to the cap it, so we will ahve another year of him. We do have Netane Muti who I would think could be a candidate to be the RG at some point.
RT: Ja'Wuan James - He is another guy that costs more to cut then keep at his point. We have him under contract for 2021 and 2022 as he was not a high risk opt out, so his contract carries. Hopefully we can get a good season out of him. Jake Rodgers would be his back up at this point. Elijah Wilkinson and Demar Dotson are both free agents.

Defense:
LDE: Jurrell Casey - No question here. Looking forward to him playing a full year next year.
NT: Mike Purcell - He is a difference maker in the run game. Just signed an extension.
RDE: Dre'Mont Jones - Shelby Harris is a FA again, and would be considered a luxury signing at this piont.
WLB: Bradley Chubb - No issues with Bradley here.
LILB: Alexander Johnson - He is an RFA, but 0 chance we let him walk IMHO.
RILB: Josey Jewell/Justin Strnad - I think these 2 will compliment each other well.
SLB: Von Miller? - Von has an $19 million option that has to be picked up. Maybe we can redo his contract to a more favorable cap number and a couple additional years. With the how well Malik Reed has been playing do we pay Von $19 million next year? As much as I and everyone like Von it is not unrealistic that his is his last year in Denver.
LCB: AJ Bouye - He will be here next year as there is no saving to cut, and he has not played that badly this year. It has been more an issue of staying on the field which has been a problem up and down the roster.
RCB: Bryce Callahan - He has been very good for us after not playing in 2019. He did miss the Atlanta game which hurt, but I don't see any reason he would not be on the roster next year.
SS: Kareem Jackson??? - KJack has been a stud since he has been here but we would need to pick up his $11 Million option. I don't see a younger guy ready to step in for KJack so I would think he would be back.
FS: ??? - Simmons is one of my favorite players, and I don't doubt that we want him back, but we couldn't work out the a contract last year and with salary cap dropping to $175 Million not sure we will be able to sign him in this offseason.

One thing I think we have seen is that depth across the team could be better, but one of those reserves are getting some reps and experience which hopefully will help going into 2021. Right now we look to have $30.4 million in cap space which may give us some options to get some contracts done. It will be interesting to see how teams handle the new $175 Million salary cap. There are currently 7 teams more then 10 Million over the cap for next year with the Saints the most at $95.6 Million. For those that might wonder about our division the cap space is as follows:
  • Kansas City Chiefs: Over $15.3 Million with 34 players signed
  • Las Vegas Raiders: Over $6.3 Million with 39 players signed
  • Denver Broncos: Under $30.4 million with 39 players signed
  • Los Angles Changers: Under $33.4 with 32 players signed
Let's look at the coaches now.
HC: Vic Fangio - Before the Raider game I was fairly confident that he would return in 2021, but the Broncos appeared to quit on him for the first time. Unfortunately I don't get to see the game against the Dolphins as it is not televised in my area. If we start seeing that the team is giving up in games, there maybe a change. At this point I will say we give him a 3rd year.
OC: Pat Shurmur - I am really not happy with how the offensive play calling is going, but at some point we need to stop making changes in the coaching staff to allow guys to learn and adjust to the coaching and the coaching to learn and adjust to the players. I am not sure that Shurmur is that guy.
DC: Ed Donatell - He will be here as long as Vic is.

At this point I think we might be best to hold the course and see what improvements can be made going into 2021. If it falls apart again then hopefully the ownership issue will be resolved and decisions can be made from top down, and Elway's contract is up after next year if I remember correctly so we we can blow it all up from the GM down.
POTM kind of post. Thanks for all your effort and time and sharing your analysis. The Broncos have talent and this year may be a mulligan - Certainly there is talent on this roster and the IR. I still think something is wrong with the training room staff since Fangio took over.

I'm not happy with Shumur at all.
 

Draft Crazy

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Good post. Thanks Jess. @Mingo he has run away with it this month and it isn’t even close! Worst kept secret. ;)
 

fightinredantz

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One thing I am thinking about is who should be the prioritized in free agency, and that evaluation is ongoing, and the next 5 games may determine the future of the players who will be back in 2021, and who will be looking for another job.
Justin Simmons - I think there is no question that Denver wants him back, but the question is can a contract that number that is agreeable. I think it is way more likely to occur if the salary cap didn't drop to 175 Million. Simmons is probably the most important guy to keeping this defense together.

Elijah Wilkinson - At this point I think we let Wilkinson walk. He should be viewed as a depth signing, but the cost is probably more then some other depth players.

Shelby Harris - I think we would love to have Shelby back, but the only way he is back is if we lose some significant players and he is not able to get the contract he wants. Luxury signing considering the guys we have on the Dline.

Garrett Bolles - He is probably the 2nd most important free agent that we will want to return. I am thinking we will have to pay him between $13 Million to $15 Million per year category.

DeMarcus Walker - I am not sure what happens with Walker. Could be a very nice depth piece, but would our money be better spent else where on the roster. I am thinking we let him explore other options, and if he wants to come back on a team friendly deal, it will be entertained pending the remaining cap space.

DeVante Bausby - I think he probably will bring him back with a slight pay raise to the $1 Million per year type deal

Tim Patrick - I think we end up letting him walk as Cleveland will take his place as WR depth and special teamer.

We have 2 players with options that we need to decide what to do with them. I am personally all for extending both of them, and I took a stab at some contract numbers, but I am horrible at that type of thing.
Von Miller - Is he worth the $19 Million compared to Malik Reed. I think I would off him something like a 3 year $46 Million (18 million signing bonus 10 million in 2021, 9 million in 2022, and 9 million 2023).

Kareem Jackson - He has an $11 Million option. I would look to extend him as well 3 year $45 Million ($15 Million signing bonus, $10 Million in 2021, $10 Million in 2022, and 10 Million in 2022).

I would think we could cut the following guys:
Jeff Driskel - $3.25 Million for a 3rd string QB is too much. We would have $750,000 dead money, but save $2.5 Millon.

Nick Vannett - We can save $2.7 Million with $875,000 in the dead money.

We need to probably think about extending Courtland Sutton. He has become a difference maker, and one that we miss him on offense this year. I believe we need to do right be Lindsay. He may not be Melvin Gordon, but he is a guy that makes this team better. I would be good with something like Austin Ekeler got, probably a bit smaller contract. We might be able to get a little bit of discount instead of giving him a tender.

Look forward to your opinions.
 

Duffman

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With the cap dropping as much as it will, I don’t see anybody paying Simmons what he’s asking for so he may be smart to take another franchise tag if he doesn’t wanna lower his asking price.
 

Draft Crazy

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We really need to focus on getting a long-term deal done with Simmons this off-season and not tag him again. I strongly feel we will.


While the Broncos could work out a long-term deal with Simmons next season, they are also eligible to place the franchise tag on him again in 2021. Simmons' salary this season will be the average of the top five salaries at the safety position. If tagged again in 2021, his salary would be 120 percent of that number.
 

Mingo

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With the cap dropping as much as it will, I don’t see anybody paying Simmons what he’s asking for so he may be smart to take another franchise tag if he doesn’t wanna lower his asking price.
I'm not sure that your prescription here is the answer. The franchise tag will likely be over the market price - better to let him shop himself and then match. Let's see if he wants to stay a Bronco and make top market price.
 

nflbronco

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What about Von? From financial view for 21? I would think it would be tough to keep him in 21 with lower cap in 21 etc?
 

fightinredantz

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I think if Von is going to stay in Denver he will have to accept a lower salary as many players will. It might be something that we decline his option and let him test the market and see if we are willing to pay what the market value is.

I really hope we can find a way to keep Simmons, Bolles, and Miller. Unfortunately we probably will not be able to extend Sutton.It will be interesting to see how we handle the Lindsay situation.

It would be nice to get KJack to take a little pay cut, but that may not happen.
 

Draft Crazy

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I wouldn’t want to extend Sutton right off the start anyway. Knee injury. Worst case is we can tag him after the season. Not ready to panic on that one.
 

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All these tough free agent decisions yet we keep losing. ;)
 

Mingo

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@Draft Crazy I'm not sure the franchise tag will work in a depressed player market - the tag is based on current contract values in the position group - which may very well be higher than the position group values of FA with a reduced salary cap next year.
 

fightinredantz

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So if we cut A.J. Bouye ($13.5 million), and Jurrell Casey ($12.28 Million), and don't pick up Von's ($18 Million) option we will free up almost $44 million in cap space. That is a ton of space and would give us the latitude to do whatever we want in free agency.

With the cap dropping to $175 million next year, I think there will be a lot of restructuring around the league, there will also be many quality guys that end up cut to clear cap space. I wouldn't mind restructuring Casey, and potentially Bouye if either of them are open the idea.
 

Draft Crazy

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@Draft Crazy I'm not sure the franchise tag will work in a depressed player market - the tag is based on current contract values in the position group - which may very well be higher than the position group values of FA with a reduced salary cap next year.
Really depends on what type of season he has coming off his knee injury.
 

Mingo

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Really depends on what type of season he has coming off his knee injury.
Agree with that, but don't ignore the other variable in the market place. :)
 

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If it wasn’t your Birthday I would argue with you, just for fun. ;)
 
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