Posted Mon Mar 11th by Ian Henson
Quick, name the Denver Broncos current slot receiver? Yeah, I hope Brandon Stokley comes back too and I need not point out the obvious, but he will turn 37 years old in June. One thing that I want to plant into your head right now is that this season is Eric Decker’s last season on his contract — a contract that is worth a whopping $1.5-million or six-hundred thousand dollars more than Andre Caldwell is scheduled to make ($900,000) in 2013. If the Broncos have Decker in their long term plans, it would best to snatch him up now. Much like Ryan Clady last season, Decker’s price likely isn’t coming down and franchising wide receivers is not cheap.
I mentioned both Decker and Caldwell, whom coupled together plus Demaryius Thomas are the only receivers on the team that have accumulated any significant playing time on Denver’s roster. The next closest is the phenomenal Trindon Holliday who had scarce time at wide receiver to say the least (he did have two catches for 17 yards against the Carolina Panthers and a handful of plays on the field throughout the rest of the season).
Greg Orton and Gerell Robinson are both signed to future contracts; Orton came to the Broncos in 2011 and then came back in 2012 spending the entire season on the practice squad. Robinson and Caldwell’s situation is eerily similar to two former Denver receivers whom spent a large amount of time either on the Broncos’ practice squad or game day inactive list — Rod Smith and Brandon Lloyd. Robinson came over as an undrafted rookie (and college teammate of Brock Osweiler) in 2012.
Now what of the free agents? Wide receiver is arguably the most loaded spot in free agency this season and there are some incredible names that will become available in just a few short hours…
Current Broncos Wide Receivers:
Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Andre Caldwell, Trindon Holliday, Greg Orton & Gerell Robinson
Broncos Free Agents:
Brandon Stokley (Unrestricted Free Agent), Matthew Willis (Unrestricted Free Agent)
Unrestricted Free Agents:
Wes Welker, Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings, Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Donnie Avery, Julian Edelman, Domenik Hixon, Josh Cribbs, Randy Moss, Austin Collie, Braylon Edwards, Ramses Barden, Kevin Ogletree, Chaz Schilens, Jerome Simpson & David Nelson
Though the idea of signing a player like Mike Wallace, Wes Welker or Greg Jennings is a dream of any NFL general manager, the contracts that these three deserve and will receive will probably price them out of anything that Denver will be willing to spend on the position. There are some very enticing rare finds just a bit down the rankings chart — Danny Amendola has red flags all over the place and most of them are labeled, ‘Injury!’. Reminds me of Stokley in his prime and even now.
A player like Amendola can neutralize the sting of losing Decker in 2014, but can also allow Decker to push back to slot in 2013. It has been rumored that Amendola is looking for something around $6-million per season for five years. I can see the Broncos taking a risk on a player with history of injuries (beck to the Stokley comparison), but just not at that price. What leads me to believe that there will be movement at this position in free agency is history and the fact that John Elway has not publicly stated very much about the current state of Denver’s wide receivers. This can’t be said about other positions on the team, he has even given his blessing on several position like middle linebaker.
Going further down the line Brandon Gibson and Donnie Avery are next on my ranking list and a player named Julian Edelman, who Broncos’ fans may remember for his play as a safety in 2011. Edelman is an obvious re-sign for the New England Patriots (especially if they lose Wes Welker), interestingly enough if Edelman re-signs it could mean that Brandon Lloyd is available again. Gibson is another St. Louis Rams‘ receiver (are they going to have any left for poor Sam Bradford?) that makes sense for Denver, but he is supposedly in serious talks with the Miami Dolphins (as is Mike Wallace) and may be signed pretty quickly come Tuesday. Avery is a high risk (drops) deep threat, he also happened to be on the receiving end of Andrew Luck’s first NFL touchdown.
Austin Collie is an obvious to reunite with Peyton Manning in Denver, signing Collie would probably be the most likely possibility out of all of the possibilities in free agency (though I thought that same exact thing about Jeff Saturday, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark last season, but Collie is more similar to the signing of Stokley and Jacob Tamme as he wasn’t a star in Indianapolis at the time of his departure). Two names to keep in mind are Ramses Barden and Kevin Ogletree from the NFC East whom both turned in monster games in 2012, but have yet to stretch it out for more than a game.
One last intriguing name on my list is Jerome Simpson, who most of you will remember, but you may also be quick to point out had a not so great season last year. Simpson was playing as a split end in 2012 and has seen the entirety of his NFL success playing from the slot.
There is another intriguing Minnesota Vikings’ receiver who has garnered attention locally, but as of right now is not a free agent. Though he may be had for a decent draft pick — Percy Harvin. The Seattle Seahawks have just agreed to terms with Harvin.