Broncos agree in principle on four-year deal with guard Ronald Leary

Posted at 10:56 AM, Mar 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-09 17:51:01-05

DENVER -- Coach Vance Joseph identified the Broncos' top priority in free agency last week.

"It's going to be a race to get offensive linemen," Joseph told Denver7.

The Broncos made their first bold move Thursday, agreeing on a four-year deal with Dallas Cowboys guard Ronald Leary on Thursday. 

The deal is for $35 million with $20 million guaranteed. Based on his experience, Leary could remain at left guard with Max Garcia shifting to the right side. 

"Ronald is a big, physical and athletic guard who plays with an attitude," general manager John Elway said to the team's website. "Upgrading the offensive line was a priority for us, and we're excited to add Ronald to our team."

Leary performed as a solid starter last season for Dallas, replacing the injured La'el Collins. Pro Football Focus graded Leary as the 24th best guard in the NFL a year ago, showing slightly more aplomb in run blocking. Leary has started 47 games over the last four seasons. He dealt with a back issue last season, but nothing that affected his performance. 

Leary, who will be 28 in April, would move into a starting role held by Garcia last season. Garcia would then compete, as it stands now, for the right guard spot with Michael Schofield. Garcia has shown flashes of potential, but has struggled with consistency. Schofield played better at right guard than at right tackle 

"Having the chance to sign a talented and physical guard like Ronald was very important to us," Joseph said. "He played on one of the best offensive lines in football in Dallas and adds toughness to our line."

The Broncos continue chasing free agents. They are looking to add another offensive linemen, and have cast a wide net. They remain interested in bringing back left tackle Russell Okung. He was open to the idea, but according to ESPN is heading to the Los Angeles Chargers on a four-year, $53 million deal with $25 million guaranteed. Okung gambled on himself and won more money. The Broncos declined a four-year, $48 million option with $20.5 million guaranteed, hoping to get him back on a smaller deal.