Free-agency breakdown: Will Montgomery

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos have one of the longer lists of free agents in the league and just three days out from the formal opening of the NFL’s festival of checks, this is the last of a one-a-day look at some of the impending Broncos’ free agents.

Today: Will Montgomery

The Broncos entered free agency a year ago much like they will in the coming days -- on the hunt for help on the offensive line, specifically at center. But this time, with quarterback Peyton Manning another year older, coming off another playoff disappointment, there is far more urgency.

Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway has said on several occasions this offseason that the Broncos will give plenty of attention to their offensive line. Despite the Broncos allowing a league-low 17 sacks last season, it was a troubling position all season as troubles started early and no remedy was found.

The Broncos made four position moves to the starting five in the offensive line during the season and Broncos running backs were hit at or behind the line of scrimmage on a third of the team’s rushing attempts. The Broncos also, again despite the sack numbers, struggled to consistently protect Manning for most of the football year.

Montgomery signed a one-year deal last April, and at the time the Broncos' personnel department believed he would compete for the starting center job in offseason workouts and training camp. But the competition never really came to fruition, as Manny Ramirez stayed at center with the starters through the offseason, training camp and into the first half of the regular season.

But as the Broncos’ struggles continued, Montgomery was moved into the starting lineup Nov. 9 against the Oakland Raiders, the Broncos’ ninth game of the season. In that move Ramirez went to right guard and Louis Vasquez went to right tackle.

Montgomery, however, has played in Mike Shanahan’s version of the West Coast offense -- with the Washington Redskins -- and that’s an offense Gary Kubiak has called plays in. So, Montgomery will get some interest from the Broncos in the coming days.

But the Broncos are expected to dive in early in free agency to repair a position Elway has assured Manning the team will repair. Elway has made it clear he’d like to see Michael Schofield, who was a game-day inactive for every game of his rookie season, get a chance at right tackle.

Overall, the Broncos are trying to find at least two, possibly three new starters on the offensive line. And center will be a top priority as the Broncos come out of the gate into the open market bidding.

They’ll take a long look at Raiders center Stefen Wisniewski and Chris Myers, a veteran center who played for Kubiak in Houston, but the position group is getting a makeover. Montgomery could fit in the mix somewhere, but likely later in free agency after the Broncos see how things go in the early going.