Training camp is just around the corner for the Denver Broncos, as everyone must report in by July 22nd. This signals the official start of the 2022 season. With rookies drafted and major free agents signed, this is the time of year general managers are looking to add depth or a starter via the remaining pool of free agents. Most of the notable free agents have been picked up, but that doesn’t mean everyone has been signed. Who can help Denver reach the playoffs for the first time since 2015? Here is a look at which notable remaining free agents the Broncos can sign to help them win in 2022.
READ MORE: The Next Great Broncos Undrafted Free Agent
Free Agents Denver Broncos Should Sign Before Training Camp 2022
Inside Linebacker Alexander Johnson
Earlier this off-season, the Broncos re-signed Kareem Jackson and Melvin Gordon to one-year deals. While the Broncos have not been great the past few years, Jackson and Gordon were both intricate parts of the team, in the locker room and on the field. The same could be said about current free agent linebacker Alexander Johnson. Johnson, who finished as the No. 4 rated linebacker in 2019 can be added depth to a linebacking core that was plagued with injury in 2021. He and the returning Josey Jewell both were out for the majority of 2021 due to a pectoral injury.
Alex Singleton, who was brought in from the Philadelphia Eagles, and Jewell are the backers expected to anchor the defense. Johnson as a familiar face could help steer the defense in the right direction. This added depth can also be critical if one of the linebackers goes out for an extended time again. Adding Johnson, even if just for camp competition, seems like a no-brainer.
Outside Linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul
Edge rushers are at a premium in the NFL, and you can’t have enough edge rushers on your team. This is something the Broncos should consider, considering the huge investments they have made in Randy Gregory and Bradley Chubb. Both have a history of not being able to stay on the field. Bringing in an established edge rusher like Jason Pierre-Paul, who still has a lot to offer, could alleviate that worry.
The ability to have depth at that position is key to being successful in the NFL. What will probably hinder the Broncos from signing an edge rusher is the aforementioned investment in Chubb and Gregory. They will need to make sure their investments pay off, so bringing in competition against them could potentially cause a stir within the locker room. If Chubb or Gregory go down midseason, and cap space is still available, expect Pierre-Paul to get a phone call from Paton.
Available Offensive Lineman
Offensive Tackle Eric Fisher
The left tackle position is set with Garrett Bolles. Right tackle? Not so much. That doesn’t mean the Broncos haven’t brought someone in to compete for the job, but competition should be welcomed. Billy Turner has been brought back to Denver, after three years in Green Bay, with the inside track to start the season as the right tackle. With an inconsistent career thus far, to say the least, Turner does have some familiarity with the Broncos organization. This, however, does not give him the position on a silver platter. Turner, when it’s all said and done, could be a depth piece to fill in the gaps on the offensive line.
Duane Brown could have been an option, after being Wilson’s starting left tackle the previous five seasons in Seattle. However, who knows how things will go with his recent arrest. Thus, leading one to 2013 number one overall pick Eric Fisher. Like Brown, Fisher has experience at both tackle positions, offering versatility. When it comes to offensive lineman, the more the merrier. Like edge rushers, having numerous capable linemen will only help solidify the trenches.
Interior Lineman Matt Paradis and J.C. Tretter
The center position is something that is perhaps the most worrisome position entering 2022. Loyd Cushenberry has been the starter for two years, but many within the Broncos organization haven’t been impressed with Cushenberry’s play thus far. Cushenberry’s inconsistent play forced the Broncos to draft Luke Wattenberg, in the fifth round, perhaps as a successor to Cushenberry. If the Broncos are serious about contending, they will need to find someone that can anchor the offensive line, from the start of the season.
Veterans Matt Paradis and J.C. Tretter could be that anchor. Paradis, who previously played in Denver between 2014-2018, can make a homecoming return to help stabilize a young offensive line. Tretter has been a very consistent starter during his eight-year career with the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns. By signing either one, the Broncos can assure themselves of consistency in a position that has anything but. Either way, competition could improve Cushenberry’s play. The Broncos faithful will have to wait and see how the middle of the offensive line will pan out this season.
Available Skill Position Players
Tight End Kyle Rudolph
There are some seriously high expectations for the Broncos’ tight ends this season. When George Paton added former first-round pick, Noah Fant, to the deal that brought Wilson to Denver, this put all eyes directly on new starter Albert Okwuegbunam. Wilson will rely heavily on Okwuegbunam and, to a lesser extent, rookie Greg Dulcich to perform in 2022. If the Broncos want an insurance policy just in case, Kyle Rudolph would be a great failsafe.
Rudolph has already worked out for the Broncos earlier this off-season, as Paton is familiar with the tight end during their time together with the Minnesota Vikings. Rudolph has had a very stable 10-year career, and even if it’s in spot situations, can bring some sure hands to a fresh-faced tight-end room. If Rudolph is still available mid-season, expect him to come to Denver if the results aren’t there or if an injury occurs. This is perhaps the most likely remaining free agents the Broncos will sign before camp.
Wide Receivers Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr.
The Broncos signing a receiver does seem the most farfetched out of all of the options available to them. Denver has an abundance of talent in the receivers room with Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Tim Patrick all looking to finally make a mark in the league. They will no longer have the lack of good quarterback play to blame, as Wilson is a Bronco now. The Broncos should still consider adding a veteran wide receiver to their roster. The Broncos receivers are so young and lack any real big-game experience that bringing in a talented, veteran receiver could make all the difference.
Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr – who is fresh from a championship – could bring that veteran element brought to Denver. Beckham is still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered during the Super Bowl. That could make his return perfectly timed when the Broncos are ready to make a push to win the division. Jones, on the other hand, will have something to prove, as last season was the worst of his career. By far. If a return to form is in order, Jones could be a playmaker in an already talented receiving core. A receiver from the pool of remaining free agents for the Broncos to sign seems to be the most farfetched. However, never count out a team that has been dying to win to do some crazy things.
Available Defensive Backs
Cornerbacks Joe Haden and Chris Harris Jr
Cornerback has been an issue position for the Broncos over the last few years. This hurts all Broncos fans, considering they had two of the best and most stable cornerbacks in the league in Aquib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. Unfortunately, since then, the Broncos have been marred with a plethora of back cornerback decisions that have not panned out due to poor performance or injury. Thankfully for the Broncos, it looks like they have found their long-term answer at cornerback in Pat Surtain II. While Surtain is the future, bringing in a veteran to help season the second-year player could pay dividends and accelerate Surtain’s rise as the best corner in the league. Harris, who was part of the 2015 Super Bowl-winning team, could be that veteran shoulder and would be welcomed back with open arms.
If Harris does not make a return to Denver, Joe Haden makes a lot of sense to fill that role. Ronald Darby, who has a history of injury, could benefit from Haden or Harris being on the team. Making sure this solid defensive unit has depth must be a priority for the Broncos. This can make or break them as they enter 2021 as a legitimate contender.
Interior Defensive Line
Defensive Tackle Ndamukong Suh
Ndamukong Suh recently revealed on NFL Live that a return to the Bucs is not going to happen, and will be looking for a new team in 2022. The 35-year-old DT could still very much play a major part on a championship-contending team. Do you know who is a championship-contending team? The Broncos. Suh just left a Base 3-4 defense, which is what the Broncos are going to run in 2022. That familiarity could make for an easy transition for Suh. The recently signed D.J. Jones and Suh, with the help of Dre’Mont Jones, could really solidify the interior of the line. A defensive line that had trouble stopping the run last season. If Suh is willing to take a diminished role, saving up his snaps as the Broncos are hoping to make a deep playoff run.
These remaining free agents the Broncos should sign can make the difference between another playoff-less season or their first playoff appearance since 2015. Trading for Russell Wilson is great, but patching up those small roster holes can prevent your boat full of hopes from sinking and going under.