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Trust in John Elway, not the rumors

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Posted at 10:00 AM, Feb 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-24 12:00:22-05

The fun has begun.

From now until March 9, it will be speculated ad nauseam which players the Denver Broncos are interested in or will sign. If a player gets released, bank on someone pitching the rumor “The Broncos are interested” or “Will the Broncos sign him?” If talks break off, the same holds true.

Some believe that John Elway should sign all the players, as if we’re living inside the Madden video game and the salary cap function is off. Let’s return to reality when it comes to the Broncos’ offseason and the moves Elway will make. While fun, rumors are just that. At this point, every player on the Denver roster and players who are not are "being explored." That's what the great teams do. They have conversations on each player who is or will be available. But they are also realistic with what they can accomplish.

Elway and his front office not only have to stay under the salary cap, but pick someone who makes the team better in every way imaginable. Keep in mind, the Broncos just won the Super Bowl and should remain the favorite in 2016.

What you don’t do is reach on free agents. You don’t overpay for your own players or ones you want to bring in and put your team in a position that destroys the cap for years to come. You make it clear what the offer is and if the counter crosses your line, you move on. To Elway’s credit, that’s what he’s done the last five years.

You can’t argue with the results. He’s won a Super Bowl, been there twice and won the AFC West five years in a row.

There’s a common misconception that you hold onto your own. That teams have to keep the players they draft.
Balderdash. It speaks to how well an organization is run that other teams want your players. In most cases, those teams aren’t on the same level as the Broncos and they reach by overpaying them. When one of those players has to become “the man” and no longer has the supporting cast to carry him, Elway is proved a genius yet again. Look no further than the players Elway didn’t bring back last offseason. Name one guy whom Elway has let walk who made a difference with his new team. I’ll save you the trouble. There isn’t one.

The common theme: All of those players were guys “Elway cannot lose.”

Now the same nonsense is back. Elway and the Broncos build through the draft and get better through free agency. That’s the model they will use this offseason. If a player makes sense, they’ll go after him.

We can speculate who and for which position, but no one knows. Not until the deal is finalized and you read a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter do you even know Denver had interest in said player.

One would think the offensive line should get addressed, but the Broncos just won a Super Bowl with a makeshift line with two potential starters hurt. Perhaps running back is an option to add depth along with C.J. Anderson.
Denver could target tight end, middle linebacker and even defensive line.

If you’re a free agent about to hit the market, you should tell your agent to see if there’s interest from the Broncos. This team just won the Super Bowl and should be the favorite to repeat next season.

The rub for some of Denver’s free agents is they just won a ring and they want to get paid. The dilemma: Take more money and go to a situation in which you may not win? Or take less money to stay with a team that just won?
When it comes to the NFL Draft and how Elway will go, good luck. The beauty of the Broncos picking late in the first round is players like Derek Wolfe, Bradley Roby and Shane Ray drop. It shows no matter how many mock drafts are made, you never know how the draft board will look.

There’s also been talk of players restructuring their salaries to help Denver with the cap. Those who do so should take emotion out of it. It has no place in those talks. What a player has accomplished or done, even last season, plays no part in it. What does is how that player helps the team now. If you were hurt two of the last three seasons and didn’t perform that well the one season you did play, you best take a cut in your salary if you want to stay in Denver. If you dominated the playoffs but still missed five games in the regular season and there is concern you can’t stay healthy for a full season, you will be asked to take a pay cut.

It brings back that question from above and what free agency is all about: Take more money and go to a situation you may not win? Or take less money to stay with a team that just won?

The speculation is fun. We love to play GM and debate what Elway and the Broncos will/should/must do. Our biases come in. We have the players we like and want to stay or replace those who leave.

“Denver can ill afford to lose (fill in the name here).”

As Elway has shown since becoming executive vice president, he does whatever it takes to make the Broncos win. He has a plan in place.

There’s a common phrase in Broncos Country we should heed: Trust Elway.

March 9 cannot get here fast enough.

Ian St. Clair is Broncos contributor for Denver7 and feature writer/editor for Mile High Report. Follow him on Twitter: @IanStClair.