The Broncos identified defensive tackle as their greatest offseason need. They just haven't addressed it — yet.
The Broncos drafted Texas A&M's Von Miller with the No. 2 overall pick this year because they see Miller having more impact in the NFL as a pass rusher and strongside linebacker than defensive tackles Marcell Dareus of Alabama and Nick Fairley of Auburn. The Broncos thought about trading back into the first round for Fairley, but instead addressed other needs.
That left a gaping hole at defensive tackle unfilled until free agency starts. The Broncos re-signed Kevin Vickerson to play one defensive tackle position and hope to resign Marcus Thomas. There's a slim chance they could bring back Justin Bannan . But when the NFL says
"go" on free agents, the Broncos will add a proven starter at defensive tackle. NFL reporter Mike Klis analyzes the Broncos' possibilities based on team owners' most recent labor proposal that players with four years of service would qualify for unrestricted free agency:
Brandon Mebane , Seahawks
At age 26, he's the most attractive player at this position. The problem: He may want top-market money. The Seahawks were unable to sign him to a contract extension.
Barry Cofield , Giants
The Broncos will wait to see if he returns to the Giants or reunites with Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo .
Derek Landri , Panthers
He started 16 games for John Fox last year but may be a better fit as a rotational guy. Undersized at 290 pounds, but that's offset by high effort.
Tommie Harris , Bears
Once one of the NFL's best defensive tackles, his production slipped precipitously the past two seasons. But he's only 28.
Cullen Jenkins , Packers
He's 30 and banged up, but his ability to stop the run and rush the passer will put him in high demand. That means his price probably will be too high for the Broncos.
Aubrayo Franklin , 49ers
He will play his ninth NFL season at age 31. After getting a $7 million franchise tag last year, he would have to accept a cut in pay to play for the Broncos.
Stephen Bowen , Cowboys
He has been a five-technique end in a 3-4 defense, but at 306 pounds he could play tackle in a 4-3. The Hofstra product came on last year, his fifth season.
Alan Branch, Cardinals
He's 26 and 338 pounds and was starting to make an impact in his fourth season. The Broncos may risk overpaying to acquire a D-lineman who may be ready for a starter role.
Anthony Adams, Bears
Adams, 31, is coming off back-to-back productive seasons. He wants to re-sign with the Bears, but he would be a good fit with the Broncos.
Gabe Watson, Cardinals
The former Michigan star has been a disappointment. He barely played last year. But he's 338 pounds and 27, and would come cheap.
Chris Hoke , Steelers
He's 35 and a backup who likely will return to the Steelers.
Chris Hovan, Rams
A proven starter, but near the end of his NFL career. He's 33 and coming off a season-missing back injury.