Right tackle has become their Black Hole.
Not that the Broncos haven’t tried to fill it. After deciding to move Orlando Franklin inside to left guard following the Broncos’ record-setting offensive season of 2013, Denver started Chris Clark, Paul Cornick and Louis Vasquez at right tackle in 2014. Michael Schofield was the primary right tackle during the 2015 Super Bowl 50 season.
Then the Broncos started throwing decent money at the position. Donald Stephenson got $6 million in 2016. Menelik Watson got a $6.1 million per year deal in 2017. Jared Veldheer got $6.9 million in 2018.
And then the Broncos really went bust by giving Ja’Wuan James a right tackle-record $12.75 million annual average deal in 2019.
James went down early and often and is all but officially finished with the Broncos following an Achilles injury suffered during an off-site workout – three days after the team didn’t know it was supposed to select an offensive tackle in the draft.
> Video above: Broncos lose Ja'Wuan James for the season.
And so the Broncos will try again. The team will visit and possibly work out four veteran right tackles Wednesday at the UCHealth Training Center: Bobby Massie, Cameron Fleming, Dennis Kelly and Jermaine Eluemunor.
Broncos general manager George Paton figures to offer a contract to the one who wins the audition. The Broncos also signed offensive tackle Ryan Pope on Tuesday, although he’s been a practice squad player the past two years and will be a longshot to make the season-opening roster.
A look at the four right tackles who will visit the Broncos:
Dennis Kelly, 30, 6-8, 321
A fifth-round draft pick of the Eagles in 2012, he started 10 games at right guard and right tackle as a rookie. Back surgery forced him to miss his second year and then he became primarily a backup then next six seasons until 2020, when he started all 17 games for the Titans.
Bobby Massie, 32 (on Aug. 1), 6-6, 325
An eight-year starter including the past five seasons with the Bears. He missed a combined 14 games the past two years with ankle and knee injuries.
Cameron Fleming, 29 (on Sept. 3), 6-6, 320
A fourth-round pick of the Patriots in the 2014 draft. Similar to Kelly in that he spent most of his career as a backup – until last year when he started all 16 games for the Giants.
Jermaine Eluemunor, 26, 6-4, 335
A fifth-round draft pick of Baltimore in 2017. After two years of minimal playing time he was traded to New England. He started eight games for the Patriots last year. Although not an established starter, at 26 he could still develop into one.