Picture yourself as John Elway. You’re two seasons removed from winning the Super Bowl, you have $26 million in cap space, your team is picking 5th in the draft, and your quarterback situation is a disaster. Do you back up the truck for Kirk Cousins and hope your defense gets its swagger back to compete this year? Or do you go after a quarterback in this year’s draft? I think it is imperative the Broncos do not enter the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes. They are better-suited drafting and developing their next quarterback. Here’s why.
Coming off of a season in which they had the fifth worst record in the NFL, the Broncos actually have a lot going for them. In my mind, they have one of the better rosters in the NFL from top to bottom, Von Miller in on the right side of 30, their average roster age is 26, and they aren’t losing any key pieces in free agency. That means that this team can still be a viable playoff contender in a league that has parity like no other. To me, this starts with the quarterback. Based off of what a majority of the mocks have been saying, Josh Allen, whom I love, will be available at 5. So now you’ve got your franchise quarterback that is much cheaper than Cousins and has a higher ceiling than him. On top of this, the Broncos have another 9 draft picks to make. That gives them options to trade up to select higher rated prospects in the 2nd/3rd round to supplement their roster or to stay put and build roster depth. I would look for them to build depth at linebacker and cornerback defensively, with the rumors that Aqib Talib will not return, which creates even more cap space. I would also think that with their middle round selections they will pick a wide receiver to give their young quarterback some more weapons to go along with Demaryius Thomas.
With all of the cap space they would be saving by not going after Cousins, that allows the team to make a free agent splash elsewhere. The name that fits perfectly in Denver is left tackle Nate Solder. Solder has been the bodyguard for Tom Brady for years and would fill a huge need for Denver. According to spotrac.com, Solder’s market value is 2 years $26 million. Since this is free agency, let’s say he signs for 2 years $28 million. With the remaining $12 million, I would find a way to get Trey Burton to be another weapon for Allen, Demario Davis (ILB), or Zach Brown (ILB) if any of them become available.
Since the Broncos are going down the Josh Allen route, that allows them to fill a huge need at left tackle, and add to their linebacking core or their offensive weapons. If they signed Cousins, none of those subsequent moves would be possible. Drafting Allen instead of signing Cousins, doesn’t really set you back offensively either. Sure, is he currently an NFL unknown? Yup. But he does have the requisite tools to be a successful NFL quarterback. With good coaching, solid protection, and good weapons, who’s to say Allen couldn’t lead the Broncos back to the postseason in 2018? Plus, this move makes Denver viable for the long haul, something that you won’t get with Cousins. Denver is set up to have a big off-season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are next NFL season’s “worst to first” story.