Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Broncos still open to Phillips, Moreno
By Jeff Legwold
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Denver Broncos aren't in a rush to sign any more checks in free agency.
But they do have their eyes, and minds, open when it comes to players still on the market. John Elway, the team's executive vice president of football operations and general manager, wouldn't rule out the return of some of the team's free agents. In particular, he said he would be willing to consider running back Knowshon Moreno and defensive end Shaun Phillips.
Both veterans are unsigned and would have to accept their roles with the Broncos if they came back.
Would Knowshon Moreno be willing to return to Denver in a reserve role?
"I'm still open to that," Elway said at the NFL owners meetings. "You look at the impact from a lot of different ways as in what role they would have on our team, but it is something I would consider in both those cases."
Moreno, who led the Broncos last season with 1,038 yards rushing to go with 13 total touchdowns and 60 receptions, would have the most significant adjustment in any potential return. He just finished his fifth season with the Broncos and was the team's No. 1 back.
But the Broncos have moved Montee Ball to the top of the depth chart as they work to improve their run game. If Moreno returns, it would be with the understanding, barring an injury, that it would be in a reserve role.
"With a guy like Knowshon, who was the starter and would have to come back in a different role, we would look at how he would handle that," Elway said.
On the other hand, the Broncos signed Phillips as a rotational option in their pass rush. He received a one-year deal during the weekend of last April's draft with the idea that he could give them some pop on pass-rush downs.
But then Phillips was forced to play far more than originally intended because of injuries and suspensions up front. Von Miller was suspended six games to open the season before suffering a season-ending ACL injury in December. And Derek Wolfe had an illness that put him on injured reserve.
Phillips played 770 snaps on defense in the regular season, or 68 percent of the team's plays. If Phillips is still on the market later in the offseason, Elway said he would want to know whether Phillips would return to the Broncos in a situational role.
"Shaun was really signed as a rotational-type guy last year, and we'd be looking to see if he would play that same role," Elway said. "The thought process with Shaun is we'll see how things go, but I'd like to have him back. But it's a matter of who's out there and what opportunities he has, too."
The Broncos have added DeMarcus Ware at defensive end in free agency and have 2013 draft pick Quanterus Smith coming off injured reserve. The Broncos will look at this year's draft class for edge rushers, too.
The Broncos have about $5.9 million in salary-cap space remaining after signing Ware, Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward, Emmanuel Sanders and Andre Caldwell. They need to leave some room for players who eventually end up on injured reserve as well as the draft class and any potential moves they want to make during the season.
"We're still in good shape with the cap, we just know it's too early," Elway said. "There's going to be bumps in the road as we go ahead, and I just want to be able to be prepared for any type of thing that would come up . ... We've got a cushion right now, and it's early to eat that cushion up."