How Can the Broncos Re-Open Their Window?
The Broncos were seen as a team that could contend for the AFC West crown this year before the season started. Now at the end of the season, they have seriously underwhelmed and are looking for answers. They did get at least one answer for their franchise that can be seen as a silver lining on the season: the answer at quarterback is not currently on their roster. So now they need to make their list of goals for the offseason and hope to accomplish them all so that they can still take advantage of this elite defense.
First they will need to find their quarterback. This could be through the draft or free agency. In free agency you are looking at the likes of Kirk Cousins and Teddy Bridgewater. Those are both solid options would allow this team to succeed. Cousins has established himself as a top-10 quarterback in this league and it is being assumed that he will not be re-signed by the Redskins. He would immediately turn this offense back into a deadly weapon. Bridgewater has played very little since returning from his devastating knee injury, but was assumed to be ready to take over as a franchise quarterback for the Vikings before that injury. It can be assumed that the Vikings will let him leave since Case Keenum has exploded onto the scene. Bridgewater will bring leadership and accuracy to this team. Turnovers have killed this season and Bridgewater is a smart, calculating quarterback that does not make many mistakes. He would be a great fit here.
They could also look to the draft for their answer. They have probably played their way out of Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold, but they would have a chance at Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield. Allen has all of the tools you could want in a quarterback with a huge arm and mobility but has played behind an awful line at Wyoming. He could also need some development after playing in the lowly Mountain West Conference. Mayfield is the feisty leader this team needs at the helm. He is fearless and has shown improved arm strength this year. He is also mobile enough to make defenses pay. He has the stigma of being in more of a spread offense but should do fine in the NFL. he reminds me of a Drew Brees before the shoulder injury.
Before they can worry about the quarterback position though, they need to take care of this offensive line. It has been perhaps the worst line in the league this year and something needs to be done to prevent their quarterback from becoming the next David Carr. They have a solid tackle in Garrett Bolles, a good right guard in Ron Leary, and a good center in Matt Paradis. They need to move Bolles to right tackle where his aggressive style will work better as the workhorse in the run game. They need to find a pass blocking specialist to put at left tackle. This could be through the draft where there are a number of talented tackles. They should try and flip their second and Paxton Lynch to get back into the first round and grab a tackle like Connor Williams from Texas or Mike McGlinchey from Notre Dame. Their may be a team still interested in developing Paxton into a backup, such as New England or New Orleans.
They then need to upgrade at left guard. They can grab one in free agency or through trade or if they are lucky enough to find a good one in the third round, they need to upgrade their. Andrew Norwell from North Carolina should be at the top of their list at that position. He is a monster and is one of the best at guard right now. He is a commanding run blocker and a wall in the passing game.He would ease the pressure on whoever plays left tackle. Besides him, they could look at Shaun Lauvao or D.J. Fluker. Lauvao has been a solid guard for his whole career and would be a solid piece to add. Fluker is a mean run blocker and has seen some solid play at the guard position for the Giants this year. He would be an upgrade for the running game but might need some footwork help for the passing game.
Completing these goals will make the running and passing games better. Which will take a lot of pressure off of their top-5 defense. Those goals will get them back into the playoffs and will instantly bring them back to contender status. The best case scenario is to land Kirk Cousins in free agency, Connor Williams in the draft, and then sign Norwell in free agency. That would allow them to still add talent at other positions while addressing their biggest needs. Only time will tell what they will do though.