LAST SEASON: Denver went 5-11 during an injury-filled season. The Broncos got off to another slow start under Vic Fangio and QB Drew Lock again couldn’t stay healthy. When he returned from a right shoulder injury, he threw too many interceptions and not enough completions, muddying his future with the team. His lowlight was missing a game for COVID-19 cautions after failing to wear a mask around the other quarterbacks. George Paton replaced John Elway as chief roster architect following Denver’s fifth consecutive playoff-less season.
FREE AGENCY: Signed CBs Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller, RB Mike Boone, DL Shamar Stephen. Re-signed S Justin Simmons, DE Shelby Harris, S Kareem Jackson, WR/PR/KR Diontae Spencer. Exercised OLB Von Miller’s 2021 option. Released CB A.J. Bouye, DL Jurrell Casey, TE Nick Vannett. Lost RB Phillip Lindsay, OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, DE DeMarcus Walker, OT Elijah Wilkinson.
THEY NEED: OT, QB, ILB, CB, DL.
THEY DON’T NEED: WR, TE, S, K, G.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: QB Trey Lance, QB Justin Fields, OT Penei Sewell, CB Patrick Surtain II.
OUTLOOK: This marks Paton’s first chance to run the show after serving several years as Rick Spielman’s right-hand man in Minnesota. Paton can afford to be patient – he signed a six-year contract – but Fangio (12-20) and OC Pat Shurmur are essentially on prove-it status in 2021 and will want draft picks who can help them win right away. Paton dangled Lock as trade bait in the offseason, so we’ll see if he’s all-in on the third-year pro who’s 8-10 as Denver’s starter while missing 14 games in his first two seasons – or whether Paton will maneuver to get his own QB in Year 1.