The last time the Denver Broncos played in a postseason game, future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning was hoisting the Lombardi Trophy over his head in what turned out to be the final game of his career.
Since Super Bowl 50 the Broncos have year after year been struggling to make it back to the promised land, and have not seen the postseason for the last five seasons.
The team since that win over the Panthers for the championship are 32-48 overall, and have only finished as high as second in the AFC West once.
This last season the club went 5-11, and after the season the team started making moves starting in the front office, as John Elway announced he was stepping down as general manager but will stay on to serve as the Broncos president of football operations.
The biggest issue for the Broncos since Manning stepped away has been the team’s offense, and again in 2020 their offense was downright awful.
With former Browns and Giants head coach Pat Shurmur serving as the offensive coordinator, the Broncos in 2020 were 28th in points, last in turnovers lost, 28th in passing yards are 26th in passing touchdowns.
The team has been looking for a franchise quarterback since Manning left, and this last year it was Drew Lock as the main signal caller, starting 13 games and going 4-9 as a starter.
Lock has showed signs of being a decent quarterback the last two seasons, but this last year threw way too many interceptions, leading the AFC with 15 picks to go along with 16 touchdowns.
New Broncos GM George Paton has his work cut out in his first season in charge, again deciding if Lock is the future at quarterback, as well as how many of the team’s 15 free agents are worth bringing back in 2021.
Denver sits with roughly $14 million in cap space for this offseason, allowing for them to not only to lock up a free agent or two of their own, but hopefully they can look around the league at players that will be available.
Here’s the list of the 15 unrestricted free agents for the Broncos:
S Justin Simmons
LB Todd Davis
TE Jeff Heuerman
K Brandon McManus
DL Mike Purcell
OL Elijah Wilkinson
DL Shelby Harris
LT Garett Bolles
DL Christian Covington
OLB Jeremiah Attaochu
DL DeMarcus Walker
DL Joel Heath
CB DeVante Bausby
LB Joe Jones
TE Jake Butt
Offseason Outlook: Simmons should be a top priority to resign for the Broncos, as the former 2016 third-round pick has proven his worth on and off the field.
His work in the community and through his foundation have earned him a Walter Payton Man of the Year nomination for two years in a row, and the Broncos should reward him for that and his solid play in the defensive backfield.
Paton and the front office have to figure out the quarterback spot, and figure it out fast. There will be a number of free agents out there that the team can focus on, including Dak Prescott, Jacoby Prescott, Mitch Trubisky, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andy Dalton, Cam Newton and Jameis Winston.
If Paton and company feel like they have a better option heading into 2021 than Lock, they had better go out and sign that player or even trade for him if it’s a player like Carson Wentz, who wants out of Philly.
There’s a couple veterans that the team needs to figure out what to do with as well, including defensive lineman Jurrell Casey and cornerback A.J. Bouye.
The team might also need safety Kareem Jackson to restructure his contract to save some money.
While the rest of the AFC West continues to build and get better, the Broncos have been stale the last few seasons. Expect a number of moves on the roster as the club tries to finally get back to .500 or better to try and challenge for a playoff spot in the AFC in 2021.