In this series, we are going to hit on each team and give you a brief rundown of how they look going into free agency, what moves are at their disposal, and what you might expect from the team.  NFL free agency begins during the legal tampering period on Monday, March 14, 2022, and then players can officially sign on March 16th.  All salary numbers within the article are courtesy of

With this article, we are going to explore all potential options for the Denver Broncos – some of which will be more realistic than others. 

Looking to see how other NFL teams should be handling their offseason heading into free agency? Check out our NFL Team Hub for a complete team-by-team breakdown!




Projected Cap Space: $39,407,718



The 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in many folks' eyes, were “only a quarterback away” from contention.  They obviously added some other pieces along the way, but Tom Brady coming to town proved that was true to a certain degree.  If you look across the 2022 NFL landscape, the Denver Broncos would likely qualify as the current team that is “only a quarterback away." 


UPDATE: Well, the Denver Broncos found their quarterback with a trade for Russell Wilson. Here is a link to our full write-up on the fallout from that.

It’s never as simple as bringing in one player and winning the big game, so we’re going to look at all the things the Broncos can do to improve this offseason from potential restructures to trades to free agents.  They have a ton of cap as well as a first, two seconds, and two thirds in this year’s NFL Draft – so they have a lot to work with as it stands. 



Cap Maneuver Options


The most common way to generate money via restructuring is to convert base salary to a pro-rated bonus which can then be spread out over the remaining years of the contract.  You can also potentially incorporate an extension to spread that money out further.  How favorable that is for both the team and player comes down to the long-term outlook for the player.  In certain circumstances, you may even have the leverage to ask a player to take less money.  



The Broncos are projected to have the sixth-most cap space of any team, so they might not even need to find money anywhere.  But if they do, one source would be Garrett Bolles. Denver could save over $10 million in 2022 if it converts Bolles' money to a signing bonus, but that would then spread the contract out over the remaining years – adding dead money to those future seasons.  As of now, they could get out from Bolles’ contract in 2023 or 2024 relatively painlessly if they wanted to – so Bolles would likely be on board with the move as it typically offers a little more security. 



Justin Simmons is one of the league’s better safeties and he’ll be a staple of the defense for at least the next three years, so they should have no qualms restructuring his deal to generate funds if need be.  He will be an important leader for this team as they transition to new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero.  The Broncos could create just over $9 million in cap space by converting some of his base salary to a pro-rated bonus.



It may be related to the quarterback issues, but there is no doubt that Courtland Sutton has underperformed compared to some of his early seasons.  You could free up $8 million in cap space with a typical restructure, but the Broncos might be in a position to see if Sutton would consider taking less money in exchange for long-term security.  After 2023, he has very little guaranteed money in his deal and can be cut with only $2.4 million in cap space while saving $13.5 million.



Bradley Chubb is an interesting one if you can make it happen the right way.  Chubb might be hesitant to sign an extension now after having a down year, but for the team, that would be the perfect time to negotiate if they believe in him but want to use that as leverage.  Plus, depending on how it is set up, the Broncos could free up cap space with the deal.  Chubb has a base salary of just under $14 million.  If they sign him to a new deal but make it signing bonus-heavy, they can free up over $10 million in cap space.





There’s no getting around this one and there are plenty of rumors and articles out there speculating, so we won’t get too far into it. Just know that any viable quarterback has to be on the table here – whether that’s Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo or whoever.  The most recent rumor is that the Broncos are willing to offer two firsts and a second for Aaron Rodgers


UPDATE: As we mentioned, the Broncos traded a haul of picks for Russell Wilson. 



Scenarios like this mostly come up in conjunction with the Aaron Rodgers rumors – and that’s mostly because Rodgers will likely want to bring along his free-agent buddy Davante Adams.  You have three rock-solid WRs under contract in Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Tim Patrick – so one could be expendable as part of the deal. Despite his contract, you could trade Sutton with a post-June 1 designation which would save $12 million in cap with only $4.8 mil in dead cap. Jeudy is on a rookie deal which is fairly reasonable to trade away. 

And why mention Noah Fant? Well, if you wanted to bring in Rodgers and keep the wide receivers, you’d likely be running a lot of four-WR sets similar to the Air Raid offense that Kliff Kingsbury ran (before acquiring Zach Ertz).  With that setup, the tight end is a part-time gig.  You have Albert Okwuegbunam waiting in the wings – so you could hypothetically have an offense with Courtland Sutton at split end, Davante Adams at flanker, Jerry Jeudy in the slot, and then rotate between four-wide with Tim Patrick or using Albert O at tight end.  It’s a bit of a pipe dream, but it would certainly be electric.

UPDATE: Noah Fant was included in the trade for Russell Wilson



The Broncos honestly don’t have many players they could release to generate significant funds in 2022, so most moves would be based on roster space or the new regimes’ scheme rather than money. The one move that would generate the most money, however, would be releasing Mike Purcell.  He’s underperformed as of late and you could generate $3.5 million with only $774K in dead cap.  

DaeSean Hamilton 

Reportedly, there was a trade in the works last year to move DaeSean Hamilton before he got hurt.  It’s hard to believe that market is still out there for him, but clearly a trade for anything would be better than cutting him. That said, he could be released to save $2.183 million with zero dead cap.  KJ Hamler can then fill that role at wide receiver.



Teddy Bridgewater is also a free agent, so you only move on from Drew Lock if you’ve brought in a quarterback who is guaranteed to start.  Lock could serve as a backup but he’s in the last year of his deal and likely not the quarterback of the future. It might make sense to bring in a more knowledgeable veteran backup to run the scout team and act as another set of eyes. Plus, you give Lock the chance to restart somewhere else. Cutting Lock would save around $1.5 million in cap. 



Such is the life of an NFL punter.  If you are going to be paid among the top-half of punters, you need to produce like one as it’s fairly easy to replace you with someone cheaper. Sam Martin is in the last year of his deal so, if the new regime didn’t plan on bringing him back anyway, they may bring in competition and inevitably let him go (which saves you $2.25 million in cap). 

Important Free Agents


If you ask the fantasy football community, they’d like to see Melvin Gordon go play elsewhere. But, in the modern NFL, having multiple backs who can get the job done not only serves as an insurance policy for injury but it flat out prevents it by keeping wear and tear off the “starter." Perhaps that’s why the league’s best coach in New England has been using a multi-back system for two decades now? So, although we wouldn’t be surprised to see him leave, Gordon could be back on an affordable two-year deal with guaranteed money in the $9-10 million range. Even if Javonte Williams is a great player, that doesn’t mean Melvin isn’t still a good one and a valuable asset. 

Teddy Bridgewater 

Pretty simple here. If they re-sign Teddy Bridgewater, it would be to start as quarterback for the Broncos. There are too many QB-needy teams out there, like Indianapolis or Washington. If they don’t bring him back, that likely means they're confident in their plan at QB.

Josey Jewell 

Health has been a bit of a question mark for Josey Jewell, but the real question here is whether the new regime wants to upgrade at the position or not.  Jewell is a “jack of all trades” linebacker, so he’s good at most things but not great in any one facet. He’d be a starter on most teams in the league, including the Broncos if they bring him back, but Denver has the cap to pursue a top-flight option if they want – as we will discuss below. 

Alexander Johnson 

A.J. is an interesting one because he started his NFL career late, much like Adam Thielen or Wes Welker. He didn’t sign until he was 27 years old and didn’t really even play until he was 28.  So Alexander Johnson doesn’t have as much wear-and-tear as your average 30-year-old middle linebacker. That said, he did just miss most of 2021 with a torn pec. Both Johnson and Jewell played over 1,000 snaps in 2020 (behind only safeties Simmons and Jackson) so, if neither of them are back, the Broncos have a massive hole to fill up the middle. 

Kareem Jackson 

Releasing and re-signing Kareem Jackson on an affordable deal proved fruitful for the Broncos as he had himself a rock solid season, leading the team in tackles. He’ll be 34 going into this season and he’s going to want to get paid well one last time with the cap and draft picks they have.  The new regime will likely look to bring in their own guy, so I expect Jackson to hit the market.



You see this often when a team makes front office moves. A lot more guys hit free agency as the new coaches might want to go in another direction.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that Kyle Fuller won’t be back. But he’s a 30-year-old corner and Nathaniel Hackett and Ejiro Evero don’t know him any more than any other nickel cornerback out there. 

Honorable Mention Free Agents: 




Positions of Need in Free Agency/Draft


This has honestly been talked to death so we won’t overdo it here. Everyone knows the situation.



Three meaningful linebackers are free agents here in Josey Jewell, AJ Johnson, and Kenny Young. The big name I alluded to earlier is De’Vondre Campbell, who graded out as the third-best linebacker overall this year per Pro Football Focus. Plus, he also happens to be coming from the Packers where new Denver head coach Nathaniel Hackett also came from. Given that Campbell skews more towards coverage, they would be more likely to retain a run-stuffer like Johnson to play alongside him than Jewell.  Besides Campbell however, Jewell and Johnson might be your best bet compared to lateral moves to guys like Foyesade Oluokun or Leighton Vander Esch.  The NFL Draft is where they are most likely to bolster depth and plan for the future. 

Pass Rush 

You could go with offensive line here, but literally every team in the league could use O-line help at all times.  To Denver, pass rush is the more obvious need.  Both the Packers (Hackett) and Rams (Evero) used 3-4 schemes with outside linebackers bringing pressure, which works well because that’s how the Broncos are already built. The issue is that Malik Reed has just been serviceable and Bradley Chubb has also been mediocre and is going into a contract-year with no extension.  There are a number of veteran pass-rushers hitting free agency – like Chandler Jones, Jadaveon Clowney, Randy Gregory, and Justin Houston – but the most intriguing name for Broncos' fans is reuniting with Von Miller. In the Draft, guys like Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux will likely be gone when they pick at No. 9 overall, but George Karlaftis from Purdue is emerging as a popular mock draft pick for Denver.

Honorable Mention: 

  • Offensive Line
  • Cornerback


Looking to see how other NFL teams should be handling their offseason heading into free agency? Check out our NFL Team Hub for a complete team-by-team breakdown!



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