Once the lockout is lifted, the Broncos will begin Training Camp, sign undrafted free agents, sign their nine drafted rookies, re-sign players and sign several free agents. In the midst of all that however, the team will have several other players to deal with. An outline of said players can be seen below:
Name/College: Brian Dawkins, Clemson.
Height/Weight: 6-0, 210 pounds.
Quick Stats/Experience: Dawkins started 11 games last season, recording 66 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and an interception. He is entering his sixteenth season in the league.
Briefly: The Broncos will have to restructure the veteran safety's contract or part ways with the 37-year old warrior. Dawkins has remained a key part of Denver's defense and has displayed incredible leadership. Last April, Denver drafted two safeties, Quinton Carter and Rahim Moore, to eventually replace Dawkins -- sooner rather than later. Despite that, Dawkins organized unofficial team work outs during the lockout and has vowed to mentor the younger defensive backs. However, under Dawkins' current contract, the Broncos owe him $6 million this season, a price the team will not be willing to pay an aging player who may only see a rotational role. Fortunately, Dawkins is willing to take a pay cut. The Broncos know Dawkins still has a little left in the tank, and his high character and leadership are reason enough to retain him, in our opinion.
Name/College: Kyle Orton, Purdue.
Height/Weight: 6-4, 225 pounds.
Quick Stats/Experience: Orton started in 13 games last season, completing 293 of his 498 passes for 3,653 yards and 20 touchdowns against 9 interceptions. Entering his seventh season, Orton is 28 years old.
Briefly: The Broncos have stated that there will be a three-way competition at quarterback in Training Camp for the starting gig. That's probably not entirely true. It'll come down to choosing between the veteran Orton who struggled without a good rushing attack or defense, and second year quarterback Tim Tebow who dazzled at the end of last season. Orton has one year left on his contract and is owed over $7.379 million. If the team decides Tebow is ready to lead the team, trading Orton would be easy, as there are many QB-needy teams out there. Ultimately, the team will have to make a decision quickly on whether they are going to go with Orton or Tebow, so the starter can get as many reps with the starters as possible, working on timing and rhythm.
Name/College: D.J. Williams, Miami (FL).
Height/Weight: 6-1, 242 pounds.
Quick Stats/Experience: Williams started in 15 games last season, recording 119 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble. The 29 year old is entering his 8th season.
Briefly: Williams has a DUI rap sheet as long Brandon Marshall's list of off-the-field injuries. Last season, McDaniels benched Williams for part of a game against Kansas City and it has long been known that Williams is no Dawkins-like role model of a player. It's hard to say if Denver will be willing to put up with any more of Williams' issues off the field. Williams has three years left on his contract and is owed $4.9 million this season. One more incident that tarnishes the team's image and D.J. could find himself on a plane out of Denver.
Name/College: Perrish Cox, Oklahoma State.
Height/Weight: 5-11, 198 pounds.
Quick Stats/Experience: Cox appeared in 15 games as a rookie (starting in 9), recording 58 tackles, deflected 14 passes, forced 2 fumbles and an interception.
Briefly: Cox has three years left in his contract and is owed $405,000 this season. However, his playing days in Denver may be over, even after just one stellar rookie season. He was arrested last fall on charges of sexual assault. The accusations are so severe that the Broncos may not be satisfied by a likely several game suspension. A zero tolerance for such behavior would mean parting ways with the 24 year old cornerback. Cox is, of course, innocent until proven guilty, but the team's image has already been blemished and Cox already had character concerns coming out of college. Teammates Demaryius Thomas (WR) and Cassius Vaughn (CB) were all present the night of the incident and both could also face some disciplinary actions from both the NFL and Broncos. Cox could be sentenced to two years to life in prison, which would make a decision easier for the Broncos. Denver is currently monitoring the situation and will deal with Cox accordingly after his October trial.
Name/College: Ryan Harris, Notre Dame.
Height/Weight: 6-5, 300 pounds.
Quick Stats/Experience: Harris started in ten games last season, allowing 3.25 sacks. He is entering his fifth season with Denver.
Briefly: Harris was given an "original-round" tender before the lockout, but that was in case he became a restricted free agent, according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post. The new CBA would make Harris an unrestricted free agent. Harris will draw a lot of interest from other teams and the Broncos may have a hard time meeting another team's offer. Fellow offensive tackle Ryan Clady will anchor one side of the line and if the Broncos part ways with Harris, rookie offensive lineman Orlando Franklin will probably be responsible for the other. After talking with the teammates of Harris, it appears the other offensive linemen want continuity moving forward. Like the quarterback position, Denver will want to make a decision quickly so the offensive line can begin practicing together and get in sync during camp.
Those are just five of the players Denver will have to make hard decisions on; cutting the roster down from 90 to 53 players will be even harder. First things first however, the lockout has to be lifted before the Broncos can make any transactions.