Dawkins gives Denver a defensive presence

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Brian Dawkins certainly stands out as the highlight of Denver's free agent signings.

Denver has begun the Josh McDaniels era by being the busiest team in the league. Denver has signed nine players with more visits on the way, including Miami cornerback Andre Goodman. Most of Denver's signings have been inexpensive role players.

The signing of Dawkins, a Pro Bowler from Philadelphia, strays from that philosophy. Dawkins, 35, signed a five-year contract worth $17 million. The deal could be worth as much as $27 million. Dawkins is guaranteed $7.2 million in the first two years of the contract. That's why this deal was made.

The Broncos want Dawkins to set the tone for the defense. This was a good move.

Coupled with the signing of Miami safety Renaldo Hill, Dawkins gives the Broncos a new look at safety. Denver had arguably the worst safeties in the league last season, using several journeyman.

Dawkins will keep opposing offenses honest. He is still one of the premier hitters in the league and still an effective player. Dawkins, Hill and perhaps Goodman will join incumbent Champ Bailey to form a respectable secondary. Denver missed John Lynch's leadership and field presence last season. They got it back with Dawkins.

While Denver has a lot of work ahead, the addition of Dawkins is an important acquisition.