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Published on 07/31/2008 at Thu Jul 31 08:00.
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John Lynch

John Lynch and the Denver Broncos have agreed to part ways. While it’s disappointing as fans to see a favorite player go, it’s an inevitable step in a 16-year NFL career. Had Lynch not asked for his release this year, he likely would have retired the next, so let’s discuss less what the future has in store for Lynch and more about where this news leaves the Broncos.

The Broncos have been preparing for this news, and had to know it was coming. If both Jonathan and I anticipated that this was a possible outcome of Lynch’s limited action this offseason, the Broncos front office surely did as well. On Saturday I previewed the defense for training camp and mentioned, “Did he come back to play a limited role?… If Lynch can’t go all-out, do the Broncos have room on the roster to keep the potential Hall of Famer?” Jonathan mentioned his concern only yesterday, saying “Watch closely folks, this might be John Lynch’s last training camp…. if Lynch thinks his playing time will be reduced this season he’s going to walk way.” We don’t pretend to be as smart as the guys who run the Denver Broncos front office. The writing’s been on the wall.

The Broncos are left with four safeties on the roster, the same number of guys they usually carry at the position from year to year. This year’s group of safeties is a mix of youth and veteran experience, although none compare to Lynch’s resume. Perhaps most alarming is the fact that only one of these safeties has any experience with the Denver Broncos defense – and he’s only started 8 games in it.

I’m referring to, of course, Hamza Abdullah, who has been a project of the Broncos since he was acquired in his rookie year off Tampa Bay’s practice squad. Abdullah will be the team’s starting strong safety, and is a polarizing player among fans. Some love his speed and his ability in the passing game; others point out the bad angles and poor tackling that plagues him at times. Love him or hate him, he’s the only guy with any experience with Defensive Coordinator Bob Slowik. He’ll be given the chance to start every game this season.

Meanwhile, the Broncos added a few guys to compete for starting roles in Marlon McCree and Marquand Manuel. McCree was set to split snaps with Lynch, taking over in the nickel and dime packages (otherwise known as sure-fire passing situations). Now that Lynch is gone, I expect McCree to see more of the field, starting on top of his pass coverage duties. Manuel is a solid backup with experience at both positions.

Finally, the Broncos spent a seventh round draft pick on Josh Barrett. Barrett hasn’t impressed much thus far in training camp and will likely spend his rookie campaign on special teams. The Broncos also have Domonique Foxworth, who can step in and play safety in a pinch.

Lynch’s departure is a tough pill to swallow as fans, because he’s the type of player you root for and a leader on the defense. If you’re just looking at the on the field football angles, the move isn’t so bad. Lynch has lost a step, and carrying five safeties would have been a steep price for this year’s roster, with all the youth impressing in different areas.

Of course, as a popular player and potential Hall of Famer, we’ll miss John Lynch and his passion for the game, but this football team will be alright with the other players we have on defense. The void he leaves in leadership, though, may be a tougher gap to fill.

  • CommishCH

    I say that Lynch’s absence over the off-season had a few people in the locker room questioning his leadership. They’re all there from all over the country and Lynch isn’t. Overall, they will miss his play after play smarts.

  • Myerda00

    John is a HOF. But splitting reps and ST was not for a 38 year old.
    Out of OTA’s, the word was McCree and Hamsa starting. Barrett has shown flashes and is the ideal size for safety, excellent backup for 2008.
    If the Broncos keep 4 then Rodgers will compete with Manuel but I see him on the PS.

  • Trent

    It’s hard for me to see him anywhere else. I think that if he was not getting the right number of snaps in OTA’s then he should of waited and 9 days or so to show up everybody in Pre-Season. I guess i just have a sour taste in my mouth because he left. I have the feeling that he’s going to get a job with the Blue and Gold.

  • adam

    I think you’re right about the Chargers, but Lynch for McCree (at this stage in their careers)…don’t you take McCree without giving it a thought?

  • Garret Barnes

    I just hoped he would retire as a Bronco but if he is a Charger he is the only one allowed to have a INT when we play him. Even though I hope he doesn’t.

  • Kyle

    adam: I’m not sure. Lynch has played very well for us as recently as 2006. Last year he suffered his neck injury and the whole defense was a mess.

    If 07 was a fluke and Lynch has still “got it,” then I’ll be all the more sad.

  • Myerda00

    Just for the GHE fans from other blogs that love to disrespect others, and the Shanahan haters, here is what John Lynch said about leaving the Broncos;
    “I met with Mike (Shanahan), and we both knew it wasn’t really working (splitting time),” Lynch said. “To coach’s credit, he understood it and is allowing me to seek other opportunities. Just in my gut, it didn’t feel right anymore, but Mike couldn’t have been any better about it.”

  • Josh Temple

    If he has to land with another team I would like to see him go back and retire as a Buc if it’s not to be with the Broncos. I love any team that embarrasses the Raiders in the Super Bowl.

  • Jonathan Douglas

    First off, in regard to Lynch retiring (which will likely not happen this year), I think he will try to get back in a Buc’s uniform so he can ‘officially’ retire a Buc. I also think he enters the HOF as a Buc (no question about that at all). Don’t forget this guy won a SB and spent 10 YEARS with them. He also has very strong ties to Tampa.

    Now, on to our team… I like Abdullah and the guys don’t get me wrong, but my concern is that we’ve relied very heavily on Lynch to assist us in run stopping. The question I have for you all would be: Who do you see picking up those duties?

  • Richard

    I know this sounds insane, but could Wesley Woodyard fill the role in run support?

  • Trent

    I don’t think that we are giving our defense enough credit. John Lynch is a great player but he is not the only guy on the defense that does anything. After watching so NFL Replay games of the chargers and watching McCree i has to say that he is a lot better at run support than we are giving him credit for. Plus if Hamza is stepping it up then i really don’t have much concern. On top of that we have a COMPLETELY different defense than we did last year and i don’t think it is fair to say that John Lynch (even though i love this guy) carried this defense, until we see how we play against Dallas in Game 2 of the Pre-season.

  • Josh Temple

    Trent beat me to it, McCree is a hell of a hitter and can bust RBs in the mouth at the line of scrimmage when needed.