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Old 02-26-2009, 07:10 AM   #1
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Free agency, rebuilding on the clock
By Mike Klis
The Denver Post

Minute by minute, the digital clocks in Broncoland will flip.

At 10 p.m., the TV anchors will begin reporting what is likely the most incendiary event of the day.

At the darkened headquarters of Dove Valley, Broncos coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Brian Xanders probably won't be watching.

Flip. At 10:01 MST tonight, McDaniels and Xanders can begin rebuilding the disaster that was the 2008 Broncos' defense.

They can switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 or bring back the 46, for all it really matters. Football arithmetic is the one subject in which numbers by themselves never add up. Not without players they don't.

If the Broncos are going to end their three-year playoff drought, they're going to need players. And not just defensive players.

"There's a big focus on the defense, but to me, every player that we bring in is going to help us in some capacity," McDaniels said Friday in Indianapolis. "Our offense needs to improve. Our defense needs to improve. Our special teams need to improve, and we need to improve significantly in all three areas. We didn't make the playoffs, and there is always a reason for that. It's not all the players' fault, but we're going to try to mold the roster and make it the most competitive we can at every spot."

One offensive player the Broncos might pursue is Tampa Bay receiver Michael Clayton. The 15th draft pick in 2004, Clayton had a splendid rookie season, but he has been a disappointment since. Then again, if Clayton were coming off a Pro Bowl season, he probably would command a contract outside the Broncos' price range.

The Broncos have more than $30 million in cap room, but they also need up to eight free agents. It's why they may not be players for St. Louis cornerback Ron Bartell. Should Bartell hit the free market tonight, it may take a five-year, $40 million contract with an $18 million guarantee to get him.

This has caused the Broncos to lower their sights, possibly to Tampa Bay's Phillip Buchanon, providing he doesn't re-sign with the Buccaneers before the free-agent deadline. Not that Buchanon would come cheap.

"The goal isn't to have everybody be at a smaller salary," McDaniels said. "It's making sure to get the players there that are going to fit the system, that you've placed a solid value on them and that they perform at that level."

As the events Wednesday reminded, free agency is a fluid process. Clayton may have interested the Broncos last week, but the team may have taken another look Wednesday after such proven receivers as Drew Bennett, Joey Galloway and Laveranues Coles were released to the market.

With McDaniels bringing his spread offense from New England to the Rocky Mountains, the Broncos can no longer be caught with Glenn Martinez as one of their two healthy receivers, as was the case late in the Jacksonville game last season.

Adding a receiver could allow Eddie Royal to move to the slot position where New England's Wes Welker hauled in a combined 223 passes the past two years. That may be a too rigorous workload for Broncos' veteran slot man Brandon Stokley, who instead could utilize his versatility as a No. 4 receiver.

The Broncos also could seek a running back and backup quarterback in free agency. On defense, the Broncos must find at least one starting safety and inside linebacker. Gibril Wilson, Brian Dawkins, James Sanders, Jermaine Phillips, Mike Brown and Sean Jones are part of a strong safety class. Monty Beisel, Andra Davis and Mike Peterson are among the veteran inside linebackers.

There are many players to choose from. The recent past suggests the Broncos need their share.

Time to buy

The Broncos can begin signing free agents tonight when the NFL market opens at 10:01 p.m. MST. NFL reporter Mike Klis analyzes six free agents who could help the Broncos fill needs without blowing their budget:

Michael Clayton: WR, Buccaneers

Rookie year: 80 catches, 1,193 yards. Average of next 4 years: 31 catches, 378 yards.

Maurice Morris: RB, Seahawks

Primarily a third-down back who averaged 602 yards rushing the past three seasons.

Bryant McFadden: CB, Steelers

A starting cornerback may be the first to come off the Broncos' free-agent board.

Phillip Buchanon
: CB, Buccaneers

Another option if McFadden doesn't pan out. Started 16 games last season; had two interceptions and a TD.

Mike Wright: NT, Patriots

A part-timer and overachiever would be valued as a student-teacher of 3-4 techniques.

Clark Haggans
: DE-OLB, Cardinals

Former Colorado State and Steelers pass-rushing force was a desert disappointment last season.
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:12 AM   #2
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I hope this list is inaccurate
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:15 AM   #3
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I hope this list is inaccurate
Didn't Klis have us trading for Cassel a week back?
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:18 AM   #4
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Didn't Klis have us trading for Cassel a week back?
Well, to be fair, he did indicate that it would probably be a little too expensive.
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:19 AM   #5
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I hope this list is inaccurate
It will depend on the how willing other teams are to spend. When you need as many players as we do we're not going to be able to get into bidding wars. When there are teams like Philadelphia, for example, who only have a couple of needs but similar available cap space we just can't compete with that if we're interested in the same players.
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:21 AM   #6
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Why is the DP still in business.
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:24 AM   #7
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I hope this list is inaccurate
not me...

at least not at WR...Clayton would be a great low price high upside signing...I was hoping we'd give him a look...

if we move Royal to slot then we need an outside WR with size and Clayton is just that and he is an absolute superb blocker...

Drew Bennett would be a very good signing also, maybe even better than signing Clayton...

as for the rest of the list, McFadden is worth a look too...

the others i agree with you on...Maurice Morris?...yuck
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:32 AM   #8
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Haggans and Wright aren't terrible. Really it's a poor list, though. I'm very curious how Kidd does. Our new director of pro scouting was a coworker of Bob a month ago, if that says anything. Rubbing shoulders with Nick "The erroneous one" Athan.
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:33 AM   #9
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I like the idea of Peterson and Dawkins. (Or Brown.)

Wright sounds like a logical grab, too. Someone mentioned them around here recently. (Motrose, I think?)
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:35 AM   #10
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I hope this list is inaccurate
Its Klis do you even need to ask that question. Actually from what I have seen all the reporters at Dove Valley are in a vaccuum right now as most of their contacts are gone.
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:36 AM   #11
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Why is the DP still in business.
Exactly, the best writers are at the Rocky and they are about to be unemployed. If I were the sports editor I would say bye bye to Klis and Armstrong and hire Lee Rasizer and evern Legewold.
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:39 AM   #12
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I like the idea of Peterson and Dawkins. (Or Brown.)
I'd be very, very shocked if Dawkins leaves Philly. Don't count on it.
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:41 AM   #13
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I'd be very, very shocked if Dawkins leaves Philly. Don't count on it.
I know you live up there so I bet you have a lot of local info. But at the end of the season didn't the team say they might not pay for Dawkins or something and might part ways. It was a while ago so I can't remember it exactly.
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:48 AM   #14
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I'd be very, very shocked if Dawkins leaves Philly. Don't count on it.
Dawkins would be perfect here.
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:49 AM   #15
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I know you live up there so I bet you have a lot of local info...
Dawkins has expressed that he wants to stay, the Eagles brass has expressed that they want him to stay. He's probably the most popular player on the team with Westbrook being the only competition for that honor. Anything is possible since they smartly don't like paying old guys but I think Dawkins still works well in Jim Johnson's system. I just can't see him leaving unless $ becomes a big factor and I don't know why you'd overpay for an older player who has become more injury prone and has become a bit of a liability playing in space. He's basically a linebacker playing safety at this point, I'll leave it to the "experts" here to address how he'd fit (or not fit) in Nolan's system.

I'd be curious to hear Rev's take since he's also in the area.
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:51 AM   #16
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Thanks for the insight. I was just curious.
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:01 AM   #17
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Buchanon is a quality #2 CB in the right system. He played very well in TB the last 2 years and even started tackling like an NFL player

Clayton is a mess though. Guy drops more third down passes and big plays than any one I remember this year. He has never gotten over the first year success and played anywhere near that mentality.

SOme of these other guys are there, and you have to have role players. Sometimes a change of scenery and scheme can rejuvenate a stagnant players development. I hope they just pay appropriately.
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:07 AM   #18
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Buchanon is a quality #2 CB in the right system. He played very well in TB the last 2 years and even started tackling like an NFL player

Clayton is a mess though. Guy drops more third down passes and big plays than any one I remember this year. He has never gotten over the first year success and played anywhere near that mentality.

SOme of these other guys are there, and you have to have role players. Sometimes a change of scenery and scheme can rejuvenate a stagnant players development. I hope they just pay appropriately.
Sounds like Lelei's tenure here. Could make the big catch down the field. But in a 3rd down and 8 type scenario he rarely made the play.
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:11 AM   #19
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Clayton is a joke...we have Chad Jackson on the roster who is the same kind of player...basically a guy who sits on the bench and collects money

Out of the whole bunch I like Haggans actually....I feel like he didnt fit in well with taht defense last year but could come in and be productive with a 'fresh start'
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:21 AM   #20
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Clayton is a joke...we have Chad Jackson on the roster who is the same kind of player...basically a guy who sits on the bench and collects money
that's an overstatement...

if he was that much of a joke the Bucs wouldn't be trying to resign him (which they are currently trying to do)...

he and Chad Jackson aren't even close to the same guy...one is an injury prone speedster and the other is a big target nonspeedster with bad hands but can block like a mo-fo...

is Clayton a bust?...absolutely...but our other outside WR will by no means be a focal point in the offense...he will be relied on on occasion to make some grabs but really his size and blocking ability will be the bigger assett...the only real issue with him in our new offense will be his lack of deep speed...but his size and blocking would be ideal...
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:29 AM   #21
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Actually from what I have seen all the reporters at Dove Valley are in a vaccuum right now as most of their contacts are gone.
This is very valid. My very few but usually reliable sources are getting nothing anymore. With Shanny and his coaches gone, along with the Goodmans, who do you get the scoop from if you're a reporter? You sure as hell aren't getting anything from McDaniels or his assistants and I doubt Xanders is going to be writing self-serving blogs and making weekly interview appearances. I suppose Kidd might be a guy to go to since he's coming from the media but I'll jump off a cliff if ESPN becomes the best source of inside info for the Broncos.

The reality is we're going New England-style with our organization and the info is going to be tough to come by.
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:33 AM   #22
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This is very valid. My very few but usually reliable sources are getting nothing anymore. With Shanny and his coaches gone, along with the Goodmans, who do you get the scoop from if you're a reporter? You sure as hell aren't getting anything from McDaniels or his assistants and I doubt Xanders is going to be writing self-serving blogs and making weekly interview appearances. I suppose Kidd might be a guy to go to since he's coming from the media but I'll jump off a cliff if ESPN becomes the best source of inside info for the Broncos.

The reality is we're going New England-style with our organization and the info is going to be tough to come by.
good...
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:34 AM   #23
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that's an overstatement...

if he was that much of a joke the Bucs wouldn't be trying to resign him (which they are currently trying to do)...

he and Chad Jackson aren't even close to the same guy...one is an injury prone speedster and the other is a big target nonspeedster with bad hands but can block like a mo-fo...

is Clayton a bust?...absolutely...but our other outside WR will by no means be a focal point in the offense...he will be relied on on occasion to make some grabs but really his size and blocking ability will be the bigger assett...the only real issue with him in our new offense will be his lack of deep speed...but his size and blocking would be ideal...
Clayton had ONE big year because he had Joey Galloway going over the top for him and he had Gruden throwing him balls and thats a coach that loves to go over the middle...since that year he hasnt gone over 40 catches...this guy is a total BUST...why woudl we want to bring him in

granted, i may have made a bit of a reach with the Jackson comparison, but i dont take back the opinion that we should avoid this guy like the plague....
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:54 AM   #24
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Clayton had ONE big year because he had Joey Galloway going over the top for him and he had Gruden throwing him balls and thats a coach that loves to go over the middle...since that year he hasnt gone over 40 catches...this guy is a total BUST...why woudl we want to bring him in

granted, i may have made a bit of a reach with the Jackson comparison, but i dont take back the opinion that we should avoid this guy like the plague....
i can certainly understand why you wouldn't want him here...

but being i live in Tampa I can give you a pretty good tale of what he brings...

1st off, he didn't benefit from Galloway during his big season as a rookie...Galloway only started 7 games due to injury and only had maybe a few hundred yards receiving on the year...in 04 Clayton was a beast...

2ndly, he didn't ride the pine all year like Chad Jackson...I'm certain Clayton started about 9 or 10 games in 2008...and during those games he fought hard to help his team win in other ways besides receiving the ball (that was mainly left to Antonio Bryant)...

with that said, you're right...he's still a bust, and he certainly had a case of the "dropsies" last season but he does carry some value...his attitude has improved and his effort has been high...

and like i said, i can certainly understand you not wanting him here, but i think the guy could help us if utilized properly...

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Old 02-26-2009, 09:01 AM   #25
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Any receiver we sign or draft must have this quaility:

Speed!

That's the only type of receiver not currently on the roster. Jackson may be the only player that might fill that role at this point.
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