ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Things look different around the Denver Broncos as they exit their offseason schedule.
For the first time since Peyton Manning walked through their suburban Denver compound in 2015, they have a quarterback with a resume. Russell Wilson has boosted expectations and optimism, pushing the norm to the playoffs, a place the Broncos haven’t been since Manning’s retirement.
The Broncos seem to have answered their biggest question after the 2021 season by adding Wilson. As they head into the summer break, here’s a recap of the moments that defined their offseason:
A QB on the town
Wilson is everywhere, like some sort of teleporter, time-zone jumper delivering the keynote speech at Dartmouth one day and leading the two-minute drill 11-on-11 the next.
Or maybe, as Melvin Gordon III laughingly put it, “When you’re making $30 million a year, you can get a private jet to go anywhere you want.”
Wilson has had his foot on the board throughout the offseason with extra meetings, extra work on the field and the expectation that there will be more before training camp.
“We’ll let the guys get away… hang out with family and do whatever they want to do — travel or whatever,” Wilson said. ” Those last weeks [in July], we will really spend some time before returning. We’ll be spending some quality time in Southern California.”
Balance is always knowing when to push and when not to. But Wilson did exactly what the Broncos had hoped for. He reset a team that had missed the playoffs six straight times and made it clear that if you’re not interested in “doing that job” you might be more comfortable doing something else.
New owner — soon
The Broncos were one of the most successful franchises of the Super Bowl era. The team had more Super Bowl appearances than lost seasons during owner Pat Bowlen’s tenure and still has a sold-out streak dating back to 1970.
Now they will have the wealthiest ownership group, led by the NFL’s Rob Walton. Walton’s daughter and son-in-law (Carrie Walton Penner and Greg Penner) along with Mellody Hobson give the Broncos, potentially, unparalleled resources in their quest to add to the three Lombardi trophies already in the lobby.
It’s unclear how aggressively the new ownership group will flex those financial muscles.
“I think the new ownership group is going to be great,” Wilson said of meeting the group. “Obviously I think there’s been such an incredible tradition here. I know how much the Bowlen family meant to this Broncos organization. They will always be part of this organization. I think with the change, there are great opportunities.”
The NFL Finance Committee is reviewing the roster and a formal vote from league team owners to approve the Broncos’ new roster is expected by the end of July.
Offensive Line Dance
Coach Nathaniel Hackett and his team practiced a lot on the field this offseason, but no position did things seem more undecided than on the offensive line.
Billy Turner (left knee), who signed in free agency, did not participate in organized team activities or minicamp due to his injury. Beyond left tackle Garett Bolles, it looks like training camp will be what offensive coordinator Justin Outten says is “a competitive situation” across the board.
That said, Lloyd Cushenberry III took nearly every shot with the starters at center and Wilson took every opportunity to praise Cushenberry’s work throughout the offseason, including when Cushenberry traveled to San Diego to working with Wilson and the team passers soon after. the quarterback has arrived.
Dalton Risner, Netane Muti, Quinn Meinerz and Graham Glasgow are in the mix at guard – all four games started last season – with Turner, who has also played guard during his career, Tom Compton and Calvin Anderson all in the right mix to tackle. Anderson took most of the shots with the starters there during OTAs as well as minicamp.
With the outcourt running pattern, movement is paramount to all of them – Hackett has used the phrase ‘running the ball’ almost every time he’s been asked about a lineman’s progress. But overall, the group is probably the Broncos’ most unstable place as the team exits the offseason program.
The Broncos haven’t had a glimpse on the field of their most important free agent signing — outside linebacker Randy Gregory.
The Broncos were aware of Gregory’s shoulder issues when they signed him to a $70 million contract. He underwent surgery shortly after signing with the Broncos and has not participated in any of the team’s OTAs or minicamps.
Hackett was oddly coy in May and June about whether Gregory will be allowed when training camp opens, but defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero said Gregory did his part to learn the new scheme.
“He’s done a good job on things he can control,” Evero said. “He’s been great in class, he’s been great asking questions and trying to learn as much as he can. I’m really happy with what he’s done so far.”
Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy has also been a limited participant throughout the offseason. He was arrested on May 14 for a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. The charges were ultimately dismissed on May 31, but he was kept out of practice as the case was reviewed by the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s Office.
Jeudy then suffered a leg injury when he returned to the training ground, so he did not complete the OTAs or participate in the two mandatory minicamp practices. After a season without a touchdown in 2021, Jeudy will at least have some ground to make up for on other receivers when camp opens.