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INDIANAPOLIS -- When Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett stopped Broncos general manager John Elway at the Indiana Convention Center, pictures clicked. The inference was unmistakable. Connect. The. Dots. The two had to be talking about soon-to-be-released quarterback Tony Romo, right? Elway did nothing to silence the chatter about the Broncos pursuing the veteran on Wednesday.
"We are open to everything. We are going to look at all the options once they become available," Elway said. "If it's best for the Denver Broncos and best for this team...because it's not just about winning next year, but what it does to our future as well. All those things will come into the discussion. And once we know where we are, we will kick the tires on everything and do our homework on everything."
Garrett indicated he has not talked to Romo in weeks. He insisted there's "no question (Romo) can still play at a high level." Romo presents an interesting case for the Broncos. When he becomes a free agent, as expected, the fit is easy to see. But will Romo be willing to take a contract that makes sense, and how will he view suitors, particularly if Houston is involved? Texans coach Bill O'Brien did not talk specifics, but admitted Houston's offense must improve.
The Broncos traveled down this road five years ago, moving all their chips to the center of the table for Peyton Manning. The intensity has not been the same for Romo, but it's definitely under consideration. The pursuit of Manning was framed thusly: Denver saw itself as one piece away. Does Elway feel the same way now?
"I think we are good enough on the defensive side. We need to get better offensively. And this is the time of year we have to get better," Elway said.
Elway said it is possible the Broncos could sign a veteran quarterback and keep Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. Elway has no concerns about Siemian's health after he underwent elective surgery on his left shoulder on Jan. 3.
"He did a hell of a job playing through it last year," Elway said. "I am not worried about Trevor's shoulder."
The offensive line creates hand-wringing. The Broncos have been unable to find matches in the draft or solidify the group. Center Matt Paradis (surgery on both hips) is expected to be ready for training camp. That leaves One Man and Four Maybes.
The Broncos could feature multiple new starters. Elway said he has not closed the door on bringing back Russell Okung, whose four-year, $48 million option was declined. Okung, however, wants to test the market. No decision has been made on right tackle Donald Stephenson, who was benched twice last season and will make $4 million this season. The Broncos could decide as early as Tuesday on Stephenson's future. His 2017 salary guarantees on March 13.
Elway is prepared to pursue tackles and guards in free agency. He did not discuss names, but the top left tackle is Andrew Whitworth, and coveted guards include Kevin Zeitler and T.J. Lang.
"Well it comes down to money, too. It's not a bottomless pit. So there are only so many things we can do," Elway said. "Even though we didn't exercise the option on Russell, we are not saying he won't be back. He might find another opportunity. Russell is somebody we would like to continue to talk to. And we will look at other guys on the market."
In a wide-ranging interview with local reporters, Elway covered a variety of subjects:
--On his own contract extension negotiations, which president Joe Ellis has said should get done: "It's going fine. It's moving ahead. I don't anticipate any problems," Elway said.
--He said the team remains interested in re-signing nose tackle Sylvester Williams, who is determined to test the free agent market. The club has not ruled out bringing back outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware. Elway plans to talk to Ware after the combine. His situation is complicated by his health, age and possibly a smaller role with the Broncos. The Cowboys could be interested in reuniting with Ware. The Broncos want free agent defensive back Kayvon Webster back. However, he desires more playing time, which could come elsewhere.
--Elway didn't rule out considering a contract extension for safety T.J. Ward. The Broncos have been successful in locking up core players before they hit the market.
--Regarding the running game, Elway maintains "high expectations" for C.J. Anderson to return healthy and produce a "big year." Anderson is close to being cleared following knee surgery midway through the season. When Anderson saw Elway's comments on Twitter, Anderson tweeted, "You can count on me boss."
--I asked Elway about exercising cornerback Bradley Roby's fifth-year option. He said there was no reason to make the decision yet. "We will wait until we have to, but obviously Bradley has played very well for us."
--There was a crisis of confidence with the offense, Elway conceded. "I think the whole offense was frustrated. The key thing is that we get more competitive on that side. For our sake, I hope they can go out there and enjoy playing a little more than they did last year and have more success."