Free agency in the NFL is definitely a rollercoaster ride. One day, you’re riding high with the newest additions. The next, you’re angry that one of your favorite players has signed with a new team. The Broncos are in the middle of that ride right now, and they seem to be losing players right and left. Is depth going to be an issue in 2014?
Image Credit: pac12.com
There had been no news, outside of speculation, from the Broncos concerning Knowhon Moreno or Shaun Phillips leading up to this week. Now, I generally take no news as good news; however, during the free agency period, no news is a harbinger for bad news.
This proved to be correct as both Moreno and Phillips signed with other teams.
Moreno had a great season last year, make no mistake about it. He played like an absolute beast and had his best season in a Broncos jersey. Watching him crawl out from under the pile against the Chiefs was one of my favorite plays of the season.
Phillips also had a resurgent season and filled in nicely after losing Elvis Dumervil to fax-gate. He was a much needed addition to a Broncos defense that desperately needed his pass-rushing expertise in the absence of Von Miller.
I was hopeful that both players would return; however, after the week one free-agent signing fest, I saw the writing on the wall.
I will miss Moreno, but let’s look at reality here for a minute. This was a contract year for Knowshon. I’m not trying to bash the guy. I love that he worked his butt off to get back on the field and prove why he should be a starter.
It was fun watching him last season; however, the Broncos drafted Montee Ball for a reason. Moreno’s time is up in Denver; I wish him all the best in Miami. It’s time for the Broncos to unleash the Wrecking Ball.
I will also miss Shaun Phillips. Of all the departures the Broncos have had these last couple of weeks, Phillips was one of the top guys I really wanted to see back. He was great in 2013 and would have bolstered this defense further in 2014.
When rumors surfaced about Phillips speaking with New England, I cringed. I didn’t want him to leave anyway, and I really didn’t want to see him in a Pats uniform. I’m glad that fell through, but I’m sad to see him go. I wish him luck in Tennessee.
There have been quite a few departures so far during this offseason, and I don’t think they are quite finished yet. Elway signed some big names, and big names demand big money. Guys are going to get restructured or released; that’s just how it goes. Eventually, depth is going to become an issue.
One of the biggest questions is what to do with Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen? As Chad Jensen mentioned in an earlier article this week, the Broncos are pretty stacked at tight end. Orange Julius Thomas is the best of the bunch, but all of them could be starters on any other team.
I don’t see all of them returning next season, which is going to leave the Broncos with holes to fill for depth.
Do I think the Broncos should fill that hole early on in the draft? Probably not. There are other positions the Broncos need address way before they look to add depth at tight end. Plus, waiting would allow them to fill the hole for much less money.
In continuation of my series about players from Utah schools, I’m going back to the University of Utah. There is a guy that could fit the bill nicely for the Broncos; however, he is going to need a bit of work. His name is, [JakeMurphy].
Murphy was a great pass catcher for the University of Utah. Last year, the receivers at Utah loved to drop passes. It was like a sickness. Wide open passes were being dropped all over the field. Murphy was the only guy on the field that could be trusted to consistently catch the ball. If the ball went towards him, you could count on him making the grab.
At 6-foot-4 and 249 pounds, he’s got the right build for being a successful NFL tight end. He’s got great hands and is always willing to fight for the ball. He’s a great short route runner.
He broke his wrist in 2013 and had to miss four games. During his absence, the Utes were not the same team on offense. Not having Murphy on the field hurt the Utes badly. As I said before, they lacked a consistent pass catcher when he was not on the field. Murphy was a playmaker for the Utes, and they needed him on the field.
Now, he did declare for the NFL too early. I do not think he is completely ready for the physicality in the NFL just yet. He was pushed off his routes fairly easily against the stronger defenses in the Pac-12. He also needs work with his blocking as he tends to get pushed around on the line.
With the guys the Broncos already have in place at tight end, they could afford to take a chance on a guy like Murphy. He’ll come at a bargain price and could add some depth for the future. I wish he would have stayed another year at Utah, not only as a fan of the Utes, but because he could use some additional work to prepare him for the grind of the NFL.
With a little work, Murphy could become a very good pass-catching tight end in the NFL. I’d like to see him in a Broncos jersey in the future, but if not in Denver, hopefully he’ll get a chance somewhere in the league.
That’ll do it for this part of the series. Check back next time for other players from Utah, BYU, and Utah State that would look great in orange and blue!
Travis Jensen is a Broncos team journalist, follow him on Twitter @BigT_BroncosPFS.
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