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Denver still looking
Chris Schneider © News/2004
Calling the team's free-agent shopping unfinished business, Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said Tuesday he likes what the team has done to its roster so far and noted there's a long way to go before the work is done.
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Broncos not done shopping for talent
Shanhan: It's early in process; club will not retain CB Herndon
By Jeff Legwold, Rocky Mountain News
March 23, 2005
KAPALUA, Hawaii - Calling the team's free-agent shopping unfinished business, Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said Tuesday he likes what the team has done to the roster and noted there is a long way to go before the work is done.
"It's too early to tell, it's very early in the free agency stage," Shanahan said at the league meetings. "We don't have our team together yet. We have a plan for it . . . but it's only been a couple weeks of free agency. We've got time to find the guys we think can help us."
To that end, Shanahan said the team will not match the offer sheet the Seattle Seahawks made to cornerback Kelly Herndon and he continues to hope the team can sign defensive end Courtney Brown.
Herndon signed a five- year, $15 million offer sheet last week from Seattle that includes a $3.6 million signing bonus. Because Herndon is a restricted free agent, the Broncos have until Thursday to match the offer, but Shanahan said the decision already has been made.
Asked if the team would match, Shanahan said: "No. That's a scenario where you love the guy because he competed for you and stepped in and played well when Lenny (Walls) went down. He's a good football player.
"You always want a guy with that type of background because he's played and he's been successful. But that's a little bit more than we would pay."
Herndon started every game last season after Walls injured a right ankle in training camp and later was put on injured reserve because of a right shoulder injury. The Broncos will receive no compensation for Herndon because he entered the league as an undrafted free agent.
Shanahan said Walls will enter training camp as the starter at cornerback alongside Champ Bailey. He added Jeremy LeSueur - he missed the 2004 season after being placed on injured reserve in training camp because of a sports hernia - Jeff Shoate and safety Nick Ferguson can play in the nickel as the fifth defensive back in passing situations.
Ferguson, Shanahan said, also will enter camp as the starter at strong safety in place of Kenoy Kennedy, who recently signed with the Detroit Lions.
Shanahan covered a wide array of topics, including:
• The Broncos continue to pursue Brown, a Cleveland Browns free agent. Brown visited the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday and the Seahawks on Tuesday. The Broncos, Washington Redskins and Browns have offers on the table for Brown.
The Broncos' offer is tied heavily to playing time because Brown, the first pick in the 2000 draft, has missed 33 games the past four years because of injuries.
Brown, who missed 14 games last season after tearing a ligament in his left foot, failed his physical at Cleveland before his release and has told teams he will not be ready to run until at least May.
"He's a great player. His problem is, he's had some freak injuries that have sidelined him where he hasn't played a lot," Shanahan said. "But when he has played, he's been productive, it's very obvious. You don't have to be a genius: When he's healthy and he plays, he plays at a very high level.
"When he has been healthy, he's a freak. One of the reasons he's the first pick of the draft. . . . It doesn't matter where he goes, he's stepping in and playing. The question is, can he stay healthy? And I think that's where he is; he wants to step up, too. Here's the guy who was the first pick of the draft, he wants to get to another level too. He's tired of being hurt."
• Denver has yet to draw the kind of interest it wants to trade defensive end Trevor Pryce. The Broncos are seeking at least a first-round pick for Pryce, who played in only two games in 2004 because of surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back.
Though Pryce said earlier this off-season he could not see returning to the Broncos after they cleared him to seek a trade, Shanahan said he could see a scenario in which Pryce returns.
"Oh, sure," he said. "Would it bug me or anything like that? Heck, no. He's a good player. So sure, there's a scenario."
• Shanahan believes former Browns defensive tackle Gerard Warren, labeled an underachiever in his time at Cleveland, was well worth the fourth-round pick the Broncos sent to the Browns in exchange.
Warren was the third pick in the 2001 draft and will play for his former position coach at Cleveland, Andre Patterson, whom Denver hired last month.
"(Warren) has got a lot of athletic ability and the guy who coached him really thinks he's got a lot of upside," Shanahan said. "We thought he was worth a chance. Once you've got a coach who feels good about somebody who has a lot of athletic ability, you don't mind taking a chance.
"A big part of him coming in would be the off-season program, getting himself in great shape, giving himself a chance to be successful."