If there is still anyone who believes that John Elway is not one of the best executives in the NFL, or any sport for that matter, they are not paying attention. That’s a bold statement on the day after Elvis Dumervil spurned the Denver Broncos and left town, but that’s a big reason why Elway is one of the best.
He sets a budget for every position and every player, if the player demands more then the Broncos move on to the next player. If the player, Dumervil, in this case, moves on and then the Broncos quickly move on to plan B. The Broncos will not overpay for players and they will not mortgage their future by straying from their budget.
As great as Dumervil was at times for the Broncos, he was making well beyond market value for his skill set. Elway attempted many times to correct that discrepancy while still hanging on to Dumervil, but through a variety of strange events it just wasn’t going to happen. The Broncos set their budget, Dumervil moved on and the Elway moved on to the next step in the plan.
Teams, including the Broncos under Mike Shanahan and Josh McDaniels, get into trouble because they blow out their budgets for players and positions that do not warrant it. Sometimes it’s hard to see players like Dumervil go, but Elway has a plan that has one eye on the present and one on the future–it’s how winning organizations are built. Despite the loss of Dumervil, the Broncos are turning heads this off-season
Elway and the Broncos have put together an incredible two weeks; they have addressed almost every need, kept their core players and maintained flexibility within the salary cap. Games are not won in March but the foundation for winning games in the fall is set in March, and what a foundation it is.
There was a need for reinforcements on the offensive line, so the Broncos sign Louis Vasquez, who is considered to be the second best guard on the market. There was a need for depth at linebacker, so the Broncos sign Stewart Bradley who is also great on special teams. There was a need for a starting cornerback opposite of Champ Bailey, so the the Broncos sign Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who some personnel people believe was the best corner on the market. There was a need for a big defensive tackle, so the Broncos sign Terrance Knighton who played his best football under defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.
Then when people started to think the Broncos have had a good couple of days but are probably done, they make one of the biggest splashes of the off-season. Elway goes after and gets the best slot receiver in football, Wes Welker, to go along with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Very few people saw that one coming and even fewer believed that Elway could pull it off.
In addition to the free agents that have signed, Elway has re-signed two of the Broncos own in David Bruton and Kevin Vickerson.
The Broncos have done all of this and remain about five or six million dollars under the cap. They are expected to use some of that money to sign former Indianapolis Colts defensive end, Dwight Freeney, who is not quite the player Dumervil is anymore but he doesn’t have to be. He will be asked to play a role that will be perfect for him.
Freeney won’t have to play on running downs, and his only job will be to rush the quarterback, meaning he will be fresher as the season goes along. Once again, Elway sees a need, sets the budget and then fills the need.
The real test of all this off-season work comes in the fall but this much we know, Elway has a plan and he believes in it. Why shouldn’t he? The Broncos under his leadership have gone from the depths of 4-12 in 2010 to back-to-back division titles, and are the AFC favorite heading into 2013. It’s safe to say that the plan is working.
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