INDIANAPOLIS – Working with a fourth head coach in six years, on the verge of acquiring a new starting quarterback for Joe Flacco and needing very powerful binoculars to see the AFC West summit, Broncos general manager John Elway, however, remained optimistic on Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine.
He likes new coach Vic Fangio, hired last month after an extremely successful career as a defensive coordinator.
He is considering the second-year jumps of receivers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton and half-offs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman.
He believes that the Broncos are positioned in terms of minimum wage to be active in free agency.
And he expects a return to the divisional fight against Kansas City and the Los Angeles Chargers, despite a record 11-21 in the past two years.
"Obviously, we've had some tough years in the last few years and one of my goals is to fix it and bring it back to where we should be," Elway said. "I feel it's my responsibility. I love this challenge. I think we're off to a good start, but we still have a lot of work to do. "
Elway has addressed many topics during his availability for the media at the Indiana Convention Center. Here are the top five:
Sanders, Wolfe to come back
What is the story: Elway said the Broncos would choose the 2019 contract options for defenseman Derek Wolfe and receiver Emmanuel Sanders. Wolfe will have $ 10.925 million on the salary cap if his contract is not extended, lowering his cap. Sanders' current cap is $ 12.937 million over the cap.
Elway said:They are good football players. That's why we plan to exercise (options). … The only concern is a catcher (like Sanders) coming out of an achille (injury). I love the way Emmanuel Sanders plays the game. I love his heart I love his competitiveness. He would be a valuable asset to us. But the question is, how will he get rid of this Achilles at 31?
Analysis: The state of the Broncos depth map is such that they can not afford to cut good players. Wolfe and Sanders remain productive players. Sanders' injury to the Achilles will be a matter of concern until he proves that he should not be.
What is the story: Center Matt Paradis, who broke his leg in the defeat against the Broncos in Week 8 against Houston last October, is expected to enter the free agent market for the first time. He is considered the best free agent available from the Broncos.
Elway said: "We are (hopefully can sign again with Paradise), but we will have to see where Matt falls. We told him that we would like him back, but he suffered a fairly serious injury. Matt has been a great warrior for us for four years. But obviously, with the injury that he had, it changes the process of thinking. "
Analysis: Reading between Elway's words, it seems unlikely that Paradise can expect a significant offer from the Broncos. Yes, Paradis is a reliable player for the Broncos, but these may have the feeling that it is more prudent to allocate money to other places of the offensive line ( as the right attack and the two guard points) than to bring back Paradise. A league leader expects Paradis to return to the Broncos with a one – year contract. That's maybe what Elway has in mind too.
The future of Keenum
What is the story: Trade expected for Joe Flacco's quarterback means the Case Keenum race is over after a year. Keenum remains under contract and carries a salary cap of $ 21 million. The Broncos should buy it for a late pick or prepare to release it to create $ 11 million worth of space. But is there a realistic scenario where Keenum is back?
Elway said: "First of all, you have to adjust the contract. And it's going to be his. Whatever he wants to do, we will work with him and it is up to him to decide what he would like to do. … My preference would be to let him stay here.
Analysis: The only gesture that makes sense for the Broncos goes from Keenum. Elway could not say it officially because it would deprive the team of any commercial leverage. Elway said that Keenum camp had not asked to be allowed to find a business partner, but that the Broncos would accept this request. It would be great if Keenum wore a Broncos No. 4 jersey when the off-season program starts on April 1st.
Breaking the links with Kubiak
What is the story: Two days after Fangio's key press conference on Jan. 10, it was decided that the former player, offensive coordinator and head coach and current chief executive officer, Gary Kubiak, would not be part of Fangio's staff. Kubiak joined the Minnesota Vikings as an assistant on the offensive.
Elway said: "Gary and I have been together for a very long time and I always have a lot of respect for Gary. We will always do it and we will always be great friends. But it was just a situation that was not working between us. I'm sure they'll be very successful (in Minnesota), but I'm also happy with the way everything has been reserved for us. "
Analysis: Things did not work with Kubiak's return to a senior assistant or appellate role. It's better to settle last month than in the middle of the regular season. Fangio was given the latitude to identify a candidate and hired Rich Scangarello, who comes from the same Shanahan offensive tree as Kubiak.
What is the story: The Broncos need players, period. And they could have an attractive chip with the 10th pick in the repechage. If Elway is not seduced by an available quarter, but by another team, it could be exchanged for another second round choice. This would give the Broncos four choices in the first three rounds.
Elway said: "It's always an option. Once we have the status of free agency, we begin to participate in the preliminary meetings and evaluate each position. We will then see where we are and what are the options to move us back. We can say that we want to go back, but it is necessary that someone wants to go up. "
Analysis: If the Broncos are trading, it will not be until they are on the clock. Apart from a team that wishes to qualify for a quarterback, a team may covet one of the best half-cornerers (Greedy Williams, Deandre Baker or Byron Murphy) as the best solution and make the Broncos one. offer acceptable. Having several choices in the second and third rounds would be ideal for Elway and Co., as this would allow them to recruit a quarterback and several offensive linemen.