The Denver Bronco’s made a big splash in the 2014 NFL free agent frenzy with their signing of three Pro Bowl defenders to contracts that will pay nearly $110 million dollars, including $63 million in guaranteed money that the club is parting with in an effort to overcome last season’s Super Bowl disaster.
This shows that John Elway has either taken one too many hits to the head during his playing days or that he is trying to follow the Seattle Seakhawks path to Super Bowl glory by focusing his attention on the Bronco’s defense while letting its offence suffer.
He hirt the team’s offense by letting Eric Decker who was coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and recorded career highs last season with 87 receptions and 1,288 yards slip out of town on a Stealth Jet without even, allegedly, making an offer to him.
It is easy to understand why Elway has decided to focus on defense after the Broncos Super Bowl debacle, which proved that defense wins championships. While that is true, his signings specifically, DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib are curios ones and could possibly backfire on him just like their Super Bowl game plan did.
There is no doubt that Talib and Ware are proven commodities but they come with question marks regarding age, durability and health.
Talib proved to be an outstanding and valuable shutdown corner during his short stay in New England but the Patriots did not win a Super Bowl with him and Tampa Bay didn’t win one either when he played there.
Moreover, the Patriots claim the price for keeping him was too high and used his apparent hip injury as a deciding factor. Talib claims this is a red herring and that it was a quad injury that kept him out of three games last season. He is only 28 but has played several seasons of a punishing brand of football that takes the toll on the human body.
In Ware the Broncos are getting a monster pass rusher who only two seasons ago recorded 19.5 sacks but he is 31 now and suffered from various injuries most recently nerve damage in his elbow. Ware is a physical specimen who uses his speed and strength to get to the quarterback. The Fact Jerry Jones didn’t open up ‘Fort Jones’ to re-sign him is a red flag as is the fact that he only had six sacks last season.
If given the chance most GMs in Elway’s position would sign these two as his opportunity to win with Peyton Manning is closing faster than Usain Bolt running the 100 meter dash with no heir apparent waiting in the wings. Therefore, finding a way to win now is Elway’s only option because it could be another decade or two before they are in this position again given the state of the AFC.
The main problem with Elway’s plan is that his two prized signings are long in the tooth by football standards. The Seahawks relied on youth and speed to become a smothering and punishing championship defense, one that may dominate for years to come whereas Elway is pinning his hopes on two aging veteran defenders, and a surgically repaired quarterback in Manning who will be hard pressed to duplicate his record breaking offensive success from last season to bring him a title.
The good news is that Denver will once again be a team to watch next season . The bad news is it may be for all the wrong reasons as this team could implode leaving Elway to pick up the pieces of a franchise that mortgaged its future in hopes of winning now without a contingency plan.
These signings prove Elway is not risk adverse, as did his signing of Manning last season. It is a make it or break it season for the Bronco's. Elway will either cement his legacy as a winner or tarnish his reputation and set the Bronco’s organization back to the dark ages.