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Broncos look to make moves as NFL free agency begins Monday

Broncos CEO Ellis confident in Elway/Fangio spending-spree plan for free agency that begins with negotiations at 10 a.m. Monday.
Credit: AP Images

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — They will need their badges to get through the gated parking lot.

But John Elway and his kitchen cabinet will be at UCHealth Training Center Monday, ready to call agents representing unrestricted free-agent players by 10 a.m.

The rest of the building is on mandatory shutdown. Even the weight room is off limits. But with player union leaders insisting the non-public event that is free agency must go on, the show will begin as scheduled this week. The soft opening negotiating window between teams and agents begins today and runs until the league year officially begins at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

RELATED: Players Guide to Broncos 2020 free agency

It’s Elway’s time of year.

“John Elway, Vic Fangio and the rest of our football operations have a plan in place for the start of free agency, and we will be ready to improve our team as soon as the league year begins,’’ Broncos chief executive officer Joe Ellis said in a memo to his employees Sunday afternoon that otherwise announced a mandatory shutdown to all other non-Elway-related employees -- but also a payment plan to part-time, hourly and intern workers who will have shifts canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: AP
Houston Texans defensive end D.J. Reader (98) during the second half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

RELATED: Ellis and Broncos mandate full facilities closures but will pay part-time employees and interns

The Elway free-agent plan for 2020 will concentrate initially on defensive linemen, a guard or center, and cornerback.

A splash play for a running back or receiver is possible if not probable. The Broncos also have a need for a veteran backup quarterback and a rangy inside linebacker.  

Here is 9NEWS updated list of free agent players the Broncos may target, in no particular order (but maybe):

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

D.J. Reader, 6-3, 347, Texans

The Broncos figure to be one of five teams in on the athletic run staffer who can get in the backfield.

Jordan Phillips, 6-6, 341, Bills

The definition of a late-bloomer as he had just 5.5 sacks in his first four seasons with Miami and Buffalo, then broke out for 9.5 sacks last year.

One-year production, though, is buyer beware.

Quinton Jefferson, 6-4, 291, Seahawks

A new addition to the 9NEWS list of possibilities. Another late-bloomer who has the length Fangio likes in his 3-4 defensive ends. Had 3.0 and 3.5 sacks from his 4-3 defensive tackle position the past two years.

Derek Wolfe, 6-5, 290/Shelby Harris, 6-2, 289, Broncos

There are so many quality interior defensive linemen in the free-agent pool, one of these Broncos’ quality 3-4 defensive ends may wind up with a disappointing market. If so, the Broncos would be interested in bringing either Wolfe or Harris back.

Credit: AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
New England Patriots offensive guard Joe Thuney (62) stands on the sidelines, during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Miami Gardens, Fla.

GUARD/CENTER

Joe Thuney, 6-5, 308, Patriots

He started in three Super Bowls in his first three years and 74 games overall at left guard in his four seasons. The Broncos need is at right guard but Thuney (pronounced Too-ney) would work if left guard Dalton Risner, who played right tackle in college, can switch to the other side.

Graham Glasgow, 6-6, 308, Lions

Like Broncos free-agent Connor McGovern, Glasgow is a center and guard.

Connor McGovern, 6-4, 306, Broncos

Started 36 of the team’s past 37 games at center and right guard. His agent is Tom Condon, who is not known for taking discounts.

Credit: AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith
Tennessee Titans cornerback Logan Ryan celebrates after sacking Houston Texans quarterback AJ McCarron during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Houston.

CORNERBACK 

Logan Ryan, 5-11, 195, Titans

He’s going into this third contract at 29, but he’s coming off a four interception-four forced fumble season. Starts outside but then moves into the slot – as Chris Harris Jr. did for so many years with the Broncos.

Prince Amukamara, CB, Bears

Played well for Fangio and Broncos’ defensive coordinator Ed Donatell in 2017-18 in Chicago. Turns 31 in June. It was speculated from the moment he was released by Bears last month he would wind up with the Broncos because of Fangio/Donatell connection.

Kevin Johnson, CB, Bills

There is an abundance of solid slot corners in the free-agent market – probably because teams don’t like to overpay slot corners. The Broncos have already invested a combined $20 million in 2020 dollars into A.J. Bouye ($13.5 million) and Bryce Callahan ($6.5 million), so they could a nice slot corner at a slot-corner price.

Credit: AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann
Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (25) runs against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019.

OFFENSIVE SKILL POSITIONS

These areas may not be addressed in Day 1 of free agency, although Elway has said acquiring weapons for second-year quarterback Drew Lock is his top offseason priority overall.  

Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers

Two other teams are ready to move on the bell cow-type back, per source, but the Broncos will monitor.

Amari Cooper, WR, Cowboys

Likely too expensive with contract expectations between $15 million and $20 million per year.

Chase Daniel, QB, Bears

Longtime backup has history with Fangio. Knows how to come off the bench and move his team.

Blake Bortles, QB, Rams

The Broncos were interested in the former Jaguars’ starter last year, although they never made an offer as Bortles made it clear he wanted to rehab his career with Sean McVay. Too bad for him because he sat all year behind Jared Goff and he would have played plenty for the Broncos.

Austin Hopper, TE, Falcons

His position coach through the first three years of his four-year career was now Broncos’ tight end coach Wade Harman.

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