ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Bottom line is John Elway will has plenty of salary cap space and he’s not afraid to use it.
Elway, the Denver Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager, has said that team will be "involved in free agency." And to that end the Broncos were already working Monday to at least meet with wide receiver Victor Cruz.
Cruz was released by the New York Giants earlier in the day, in large part what was a salary cap move. But the Broncos’ evaluation of him would largely hinge on a physical of some kind.
Cruz is a high-character player who went from an undrafted rookie to back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons in 2011 and 2012. But he has struggled to regain that form since tearing the patellar tendon in his knee in October 2014.
He missed the 2015 season and finished 2016 with 39 receptions for 586 yards to go with one touchdown. Cruz will turn 31 in November and has just two touchdown catches since the start of the 2014 season.
The Broncos are expected to have over $40 million worth of salary cap space by the time free agency opens in March and could have as many as 10 selections in this year’s draft after the league awards compensatory picks. So, Elway, who does preach a disciplined approach in free agency overall, is expected to be active in how the team responds to the first playoff miss since 2010.
The Broncos are on the hunt for a third option in the passing game. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders caught 90 and 79 passes respectively this past season and no other Broncos' wide receiver caught more than 21.
Overall, when looking at veteran free agents, Elway has routinely said he prefers free agents younger than 30, who are entering their second contract in the league. In the Broncos’ free agency binge in 2014 when they signed Sanders, DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib, Ware was the only player in that group who was older than 29 at the time.
Following the season Elway referenced the Broncos’ win in the Super Bowl just over a year ago and added, “There’s no reason to think we can’t get back there soon.’’