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Broncos look for a linebacker to step up and replace Danny Trevathan

Shane Ray figures to take on a bigger role in 2016 with the Broncos using DeMarcus Ware more as a situational player. David Zalubowski/AP

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- On Monday, the Denver Broncos will begin their offseason program and get their first look at a roster that is still under construction.

After some need-specific moves in free agency with additions at quarterback, offensive line and in the defensive, the Broncos will have a group at their suburban Denver complex that coach Gary Kubiak has called "a good team, a really good team."

This is the last of the one-a-day looks at where things stand at some of the positions that carried the biggest question marks when the offseason opened.

Today: Linebackers.

Who’s in: When Danny Trevathan exited in free agency -- he signed with the Chicago Bears -- it meant the guy who had led the Broncos in tackles in two of the last three seasons, topping 100 tackles each of those times, would no longer be a three-down player in the team's defense.

And Trevathan led the team in tackles under two different defensive coordinators -- Jack Del Rio and Wade Phillips -- with one of those seasons being in a 4-3 defense and last season in Phillips’ 3-4. The Broncos will have to replace plenty of scheme and situational versatility.

There is plenty of production and talent remaining on the depth chart. DeMarcus Ware willingly took a pay reduction to stay. Super Bowl MVP Von Miller and Brandon Marshall, who led the Broncos in tackles in 2014 and was second to Trevathan this past season, also return.

The Broncos are also looking for a big jump in production from Shane Ray, last year’s No. 1 pick, and Todd Davis likely will get the first chance to replace Trevathan at one of the inside linebacker spots. Corey Nelson has been a key special teams player already in his career and Shaquil Barrett made several impact plays last season in a rotation with Ware and Miller.

Zaire Anderson, who spent last season on the practice squad also has a chance at a roster spot.

Cap matters: Miller’s figure could change if the Broncos are successful in getting a long-term deal done before training camp, but with the franchise player tag he is scheduled to count just over $14 million against the cap. Ware, after taking a cut in base salary in a new deal that has some incentives built in, will count just $8 million against the cap.

Marshall, who would like a long-term deal, is on a one-year tender as a restricted free agents so will count $2.553 million against the cap with Shane Ray at $2.072 million against the cap. Nelson, Davis, Barrett and Anderson are at $612,150, $600,000, $525,000 and $450,000 respectively against the cap.

Who starts: If the Broncos stick to their plan to use Ware, who missed five games last season with a back injury, in a more pass-rush specific role this season, then the initial early-down configuration could be Miller and Ray at the two outside linebacker spots with Marshall and Davis at the two inside spots.

What’s left to do: Overall, the Broncos like the group and believe they have depth. The wild card in any prediction of a starting lineup is if the Broncos use a premium draft pick on an inside linebacker, such as in the first or second round.

It will be a tough group for a new player to crack, especially given that seven of the eight players at the position currently on the roster were on the 53-player roster last season and Anderson spent the year on the team’s practice squad.