John Elway is now an executive with the Denver Broncos and he made some telling remarks to Dave Krieger of the Denver Post. Elway implied that without a new collective bargaining agreement that includes a rookie wage scale, the Broncos would likely be looking to deal the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft.
Right now the No. 2 pick would cost a serious amount of cash. Last year the Detroit Lions gave No. 2 pick Ndamukong Suh a five-year, $68 million contract with $40 million in guaranteed money. So whoever gets picked at that spot in 2011 would expect at least that much and probably more.
After finishing 4-12 the Broncos have too many holes to be giving that much cash to one player, especially an unproven rookie. That said, if they stay in their current spot, the Broncos will likely have to go with a defensive presence. Denver was last in the NFL in total defense (390.8 yards per game), 25th in pass defense (236.3 ypg) and 31st in rushing defense (154.6 ypg).
The top of the 2011 draft is sure to be heavy on defensive players, and currently Scouts Inc.’s Todd McShay has the Broncos taking Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley with the second pick. That, of course, assumes the Carolina Panthers don’t take Fairley (McShay has Carolina taking Clemson’s DaQuan Bowers). On the other hand, Mel Kiper has Denver selection LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson (Kiper has Fairley going to the Panthers).
Cornerback is certainly a position of need for the Broncos, especially considering that Champ Bailey will turn 33 this offseason and is scheduled to become a free agent. But giving $40-plus million to a cornerback seems a bit much.
Elway may be right that Denver’s best option would be to trade down, save money and stockpile picks to fill the team’s numerous holes.