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2024 Broncos Offseason Road Map: Part 1

The performance of the 2023 Broncos has to be described as a disappointment that did not meet expectations. It was a team that should have made the playoffs, but had a few too many inexcusable losses. Improvements must be made to end what is a disgraceful eight year drought from the postseason.

As always, roster changes will be part of achieving that improvement. For this offseason, however, I’ll be forking off a couple of different paths for this road map that will come in subsequent articles. This first part will chronicle several goals that I feel should be accomplished no matter what to start off the path.

1. Restructure the base salaries for Mike McGlinchey, Ben Powers, Zach Allen, and Alex Singleton

The first three salaries must happen just for the Broncos to get in immediate compliance with the 2024 salary cap. All of those salaries are fully guaranteed, they consist of money the Broncos are already committed to paying, so there’s no harm in moving where the cap dollars are charged. For Singleton, only a little more than half of his base salary is fully guaranteed, but given that his play remains strong and there’s little doubt that he’ll be on the team in 2024, the team should go ahead and guarantee it all, and restructure all but the minimum base salary required.

2. Restructure (but preferably extend) Garett Bolles and Justin Simmons

The restructures in goal #1 also get the Broncos to minimum 2024 salary cap compliance. To make some other moves, they’ll need to move some other cap dollars around. In my opinion, doing so by guaranteeing the salaries of these two core veterans who are still playing at a high level would be best. The immediate hurdle, however, is that both are entering the final season of their contracts, so void years would have to be used for a restructure, and that would need negotiation with each player.

Because of this, I believe it would be prudent to broach two year extensions for both players, along the guidelines that I have set forth here for both Bolles and Simmons. This gives both sides security and flexibility for both this season and next.

3. Extend Lloyd Cushenberry

I’ve laid out what an extension for Cushenberry should look like, and I feel the Broncos should pursue it in any case. The high stability of the offensive line in 2023 was very refreshing, and this is a unit that I would like to see be the case for 2024 and beyond. I am also unafraid to pursue this deal even with high veteran salaries at three other offensive line positions, and the fourth in Quinn Meinerz coming next offseason. Teams should pay for good talent when it comes to them, regardless if it ends up being heavily clustered in one position group.

It will be intriguing to see what priority the Broncos under George Paton set at center. Under John Elway, the priority was low, allowing both Matt Paradis and Connor McGovern to leave in free agency. The Broncos have been successful in finding successors at center, but will that luck continue? Paton did say in his postseason press conference regarding Alex Forsyth that they “think he’s a starter in this league“. Observers should not read too much into that statement–it was part of a larger statement to positively comment on the 2022 rookie class–but it won’t be ignored, either.

4. Exercise the 5th year option on the contract of Patrick Surtain II–but preferably extend him swiftly

The actual goal here will be trivially easy and obvious to accomplish. But as I have laid out here, my strong preference would be to obviate this goal by getting this lockdown corner also locked down to a market setting extension. It’s asking too much to ask for an extension to be completed before I usually evaluate my road maps, which is soon after the NFL Draft some time in May, but it must be cited as a top bonus goal to achieve.

5. Welcome back any of Adam Trautman, Mike Purcell, Cameron Fleming, and Lil’Jordan Humphrey at near minimum salaries

While none of these players should be counted upon to be regular starters, all of them have shown usefulness in helping out on a small slice of snaps when called upon. If the price is right, then they can continue to help fill out the depth chart.

6. Acquire an interior defensive lineman

The only outright hole I see on the starting level of the roster as it stands now that cannot be feasibly asked to be covered by a younger player would be someone on the defensive interior who can come closer to production of Zach Allen and DJ Jones. They likely should not spend a lot of money on this position, but they also probably need talent that’s on a pay level higher than near minimum salaries.

7. Acquire a rookie running back

It’s fair to say that Javonte Williams did not have a strong season coming off from his devastating knee injury in 2022. Even if Williams just needed 2023 to get back on track for 2024 as a higher level running back, next season will also be the final of his rookie contract. Samaje Perine will also be a free agent then, and while Jaleel McLaughlin showed some flashes as a rookie, the depth beyond 2024 could become thin even if he does take the next step forward. As always, undrafted free agency is an acceptable place to find a rookie running back if it’s not justified during the draft, as McLaughlin proved last season.

8. Acquire a rookie quarterback

Regardless of Russell Wilson’s future, it’s time to again start broaching the taking of some shots at a young quarterback to see if one of those shots pans out. Once again as always, a minimum shot at this position need not be with a draft pick–undrafted free agency must always be explored alongside as well.