DENVER — The Broncos knew they were unlikely to make the playoffs after their humiliating loss at San Francisco on Dec. 9. Their offense looked like a fish on bicycle following Emmanuel Sanders' injury, leaving teams to stack the line of scrimmage with eight defenders to stop rookie sensation Phillip Lindsay.
There was nothing they Broncos could do. And there was little they were willing to do in terms of coloring outside the lines. The Broncos dropped their final four games, scoring 54 points. It drove home a point that continues to exasperate Broncos fans. Denver's feeble offense correlates directly to three straight seasons without reaching the playoffs. The numbers are sobering.
2019: 20.6 points per game, 19th in red zone scoring, 22nd in interceptions with 15
2018: 18.1 points per game, 32nd in red zone scoring, 31st in interceptions with 22
2017: 20.8 points per game, 26th in red zone scoring, 12th in interceptions with 11
Rich Scangarello enters as the fourth offensive boss in four seasons. While he walked the hallways of the Indianapolis convention center, Scangarello remained unbothered by autograph seekers. Scangarello has drawn high praise for his early days at Dove Valley, diving into his first job as an NFL coordinator with vision and passion. But let's keep it real: he needs players.
With teams able to talk free agents on Monday, the Broncos are expected to cast a wide net for talent. It starts with the offensive line. The Broncos have talked with the reps of Billy Turner and Jared Veldheer, trying to sign them before the frenzy begins. Turner is versatile, and could play in a swing role or challenge for the right tackle job. They also met with the agent for center Matt Paradis. The conversation was positive -- no numbers were discussed -- leaving the possibility he returns depending on the price.
Regardless, the Broncos could add a lineman in free agency. Denver expressed strong interest in Miami tackle Ju'Wuan James a year ago, and that again bears watching. The draft also features some strong prospects from Washington State's Andre Dillard, Alabama's Jonah Williams and former Colorado prep star Dalton Risner. Given the Broncos' multiple holes to address, they could go a number of directions with their first two picks.
Tight end requires a boost. The Broncos might not re-sign Jeff Heuerman because of injury concerns, leaving a talented room with injury issues with Jake Butt (knee) and Troy Fumagalli (groin). Available free agents include Pittsburgh's Jesse James and Jacksonville's James O'Shaughnessy. Denver wants a physical presence at the position, and both are considered good blockers. In the draft, Iowa's T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant could be a fit, or someone like Texas A&M's Jace Sternberger, whom Denver talked with at the combine.
As for receiver, don't hold your breath for Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown. While the Broncos were connected to him in national reports, their interest was tepid at best. Not because of his talent, but his expected desire for a new contract when Denver is attempting to address multiple other concerns. That said, the Broncos could use a veteran to stabilize the group that features Emmanuel Sanders, healing ahead of schedule from Achilles surgery, Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton and Tim Patrick. Could Adam Humphries or Golden Tate make sense? Denver will be in the market, keeping all options open.
A peek at their offensive stats the past three seasons eloquently explains why they must keep all doors ajar.
The Broncos will not tender a contract to Pro Bowl long snapper Casey Kreiter. Denver would like him back, but at a price lower than required for the tender.