By Abraham Gutierrez
DENVER (CBS4) – Following a disastrous 2017 NFL season, John Elway faces the most challenging offseason in his tenure as president of football operations and general manager of the Denver Broncos. That’s because, for the first time since transitioning from the field and into the front office, the Broncos failed to close the regular season with a winning record.
Denver is finishing the year at the cellar of the AFC West division with a 5-11 mark, and tied with the winless Cleveland Browns for most double-digit losses (8). This will be the third-straight offseason that Elway and the Broncos look to find some stability at the quarterback position.
In the third year of the post-Peyton Manning era, quarterbacks Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch all failed to fit the bill as a viable starter. Thus, Denver’s offense ranked 27th in points, 20th in passing yards, 17th in total yards and 12th in rushing yards per game in 2017.
“Obviously, that position didn’t perform as well as we wanted it to. I thought it would perform better that it did,” Elway said. “And it’s not just on them — I think there’s a lot of circumstances that went into that, that put them in tough situations. But we didn’t perform as well as we’d like to, so that’s obviously a position that we feel like we have to get better at going into next season.”
Broncos Reportedly Willing To Make ‘Big Offer’ To Kirk Cousins
There are a number of reports indicating that Denver is strongly interested in acquiring soon-to-be free agent Kirk Cousins. The sixth-year man out of Michigan State, who finished seventh in the league passing yards (4,093 yards) and eighth in both touchdowns (27) and completions (347), and is expected to receive a “big offer” to leave the nation’s capital and head for the Mile High City.
The chase for Cousins’ services won’t be a two-horse race between Denver and the Washington Redskins, but Washington is considered the frontrunner to retain the 2016 Pro Bowler and the Broncos are ready to cough up some serious dough after spending the fewest of any NFL team at that position over the past two seasons.
Vance Joseph To Return As Broncos Head Coach In 2018
Coaches’ heads rolled all across the league following the final week of the 2017 NFL season, and Denver was no exception. In total, six Broncos assistant coaches were handed their pink slip on Monday, including Eric Studesville (assistant head coach/running backs), Tyke Tolbert (wide receivers) and Jeff Davidson (offensive line).
However, first-year head coach Vance Joseph survived the organization’s worst season since 2010 when the Broncos went 4-12. Because most of the mess at the quarterback position falls on Elway’s shoulders, Joseph will get the opportunity to return next season.
“Vance and I had a great talk this morning about our plan to attack this offseason and get better as a team,” Elway Tweeted on Tuesday. “We believe in Vance as our head coach. Together, we’ll put in the work to improve in all areas and win in 2018.”
Joseph also announced that Bill Musgrave would go from interim offensive coordinator to full-time OC following Mike McCoy’s firing back in November.
“I think how we played offensively after we hired Billy (Musgrave) was how we want to play,” he said. “Billy did a great job calling the games.”
Broncos NFL Draft Options
Following their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Broncos secured the fifth overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. As far as potential quarterback draftees go, Josh Rosen of the UCLA Bruins is possibly the top QB prospect, and is expected to be the first or second overall pick. Other eligible signal-callers include Sam Darnold of USC (if he declares), Josh Allen of Wyoming, Lamar Jackson of Louisville, Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, Mason Rudolph from Oklahoma State.
Even though the organization’s priorities are at the QB position, that’s not the only area that could use some improvement. Aside from finding a suitable signal-caller, Denver’s needs also include right tackle, inside linebacker, nose tackle, tight end and cornerback —
and some depth on the offensive line also wouldn’t hurt.