History shows Broncos think they can find free agents later too

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With some familiar names still looking for work as free agency enters its next, more subdued, stages in the days and weeks to come, history says the Denver Broncos will keep their options, and checkbook, open -- at least just a little bit.

Recent history has also shown the current Broncos regime believes veteran help can be found for those with patience. Or at least for those willing to wait and see how things unfold with players at the initial organized team activity workouts and minicamps.

The Broncos do get an extra minicamp this year because they have a new head coach with Gary Kubiak replacing John Fox.

"Free agency goes long after that first week," said executive vice president of football operations/general manager. "It's not something that stops, it's just a different approach after that first wave."

In 2012, the Broncos signed linebacker Keith Brooking and safety Jim Leonhard in training camp. Brooking went on to start 14 games that season and Leonhard played 24.3 percent of the defense's snaps in situational work.

In 2013, with the Broncos forced to release Elvis Dumervil because of the fax fiasco, they signed defensive end Shaun Phillips to a one-year deal during the draft weekend. Phillips went on to play 770 snaps on defense that season (68 percent of the team's total) and led the Broncos in sacks with 10 in a season that also saw Von Miller suspended for the first five games for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

The Broncos signed linebacker Paris Lenon during training camp that year and Lenon ended up, because of injuries, starting six games and was the starter in the playoffs as well, including Super Bowl XLVIII.

And last season, the Broncos signed center Will Montgomery and defensive tackle Marvin Austin Jr. in May. Montgomery was put into the starting lineup in the ninth game of the season and ended up playing 585 snaps on offense or 51.5 percent of the regular season total.

Austin Jr., who was trying to come back from back surgery and signed a two-year deal last year, played 273 snaps on defense (25.5 percent of the regular season total). Austin Jr. is expected to be in the rotation in the defensive line, particularly at nose tackle, this season as well as the Broncos switch to a 3-4 scheme on defense.

Montgomery, who signed a one-year deal last year, is once again a free agent and the Broncos would consider bringing him back if he remains unsigned and they don't see what they hope to from the other centers on the roster, especially Matt Paradis.

"I think you can always find some good football players a little later," is how Kubiak put it recently. "We work through it, John (Elway) and those guys are going to be looking all the time if there is someone out there who can help us. But when we get our guys on the field and get to work, we'll see where we're at. We like our group, but for whatever reason, you might need to look at another guy or two."