Training camp is quickly approaching, which means it's time to preview the most exciting part of the summer. Over the next month, Around The NFL's Conor Orr will break down all 32 teams and give us something to look for in late July.
Today, we take a look at the Denver Broncos. Click on the tabs above to see other AFC West camp previews. For the rest of the NFL, click here.
Training camp report date: Rookies July 24, veterans July 27.
Offseason in a nutshell: John Elway is living proof that head of personnel is one of the most thankless jobs around. Even as the team was soaking up the euphoria of a White House visit, Elway was being vice-gripped into handing away one of the most lucrative contracts in NFL history to Von Miller. Brock Osweilerbolted to Houston, and C.J. Anderson nearly left for Miami or Chicago after the low-round-tender strategy backfired. Does he have time to catch his breath now? Not really. Denver opens camp with a three-way quarterback battle -- Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch -- and a little more than $5 million in salary-cap space.
Player to watch: Quarterback Paxton Lynch.The Mile High Report recently summed up the Denver Broncos' quarterbacking situation beautifully: If we're really talking about Trevor Siemian beating out Mark Sanchez for a job, then we're talking about a world where Lynch is the favorite to start. While Denver deserves credit for developing Siemian to this point, there is no real use in sitting a player that some Broncos apparently like more than Osweiler anyway. If there is even a question in Gary Kubiak's mind between Lynch and Siemian, there shouldn't be a moment's hesitation. To be clear, we fully expect Mark Sanchez to be the opening-day starter, but Lynch needs to be a convincing enough No. 2 to earn himself some snaps if QB1 cannot perform up to par.
THREE BURNING QUESTIONS
1. Is all the Siemian rhetoric really a challenge to Sanchez?
When it comes to surviving aggravating, high-profile quarterback competitions, Mark Sanchez is the NFL's Aron Ralston. He weathered not one, but two brutal Summers of Tebow which bookended Hurricane Geno and the shoulder injury that led to his ouster from New York. All of this is to say that Sanchez doesn't need manufactured motivation at this point in his career. He's almost 30 now and understands what it takes to be an NFL quarterback. If that isn't good enough, teams need to stop digging for something that isn't there. Plus, Broncos players are already talking about Sanchez as their starting quarterback, so why create doubt?
"Right now, they're giving all three of those guys equal reps, so I don't think either one of them has created any advantage at this point, because they haven't consistently been with the ones yet," Broncos nose tackle Sylvester Williams recently told SiriusXM. "But I think, going into the camp, I think Coach Kub kind of let us know he's going to go with Mark and give Mark the opportunity to see what he can do and then go on from there."
Sanchez is a more-than-capable option for now; a quarterback who played well with a good offensive line, running game and wide receivers. This is probably the best offense he's been a part of since the 2010 Jets.
Talib is off crutches following a gunshot incident at a Dallas-area night club in June and is, according to the Denver Post, back running, cutting and planting. While it's easy to assume that someone can just move on -- and by all accounts, Talib was very lucky he wasn't more seriously injured -- any setback to the back end of Denver's defense could affect the balance of pressure and coverage that Wade Phillips artfully created a year ago.
There are other candidates, but quietly Connor McGovern is being touted as a diamond-in-the-rough type of find for a Broncos team looking to fill some pretty hefty shoes. While this rendition of Denver's offensive line will not blow anyone away with name recognition, it's about time the Broncos decided to get younger and less expensive in the hopes of building a cohesive unit that can adequately pave the way for Kubiak's bootleg offense.
Way-too-early season prediction: It's strange seeing a team that could easily go 12-4 next year just as quickly as they could go 4-12. We all expect Denver to come back to Earth, but just how far? Last season, sub-average quarterback play did not stand in the way of a resounding Super Bowl victory. What about this year?