ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Denver Broncos headed into free agency with a clear mission.
“Our goal was to fortify our offensive line and defensive line in free agency,” head coach Vance Joseph told media on Monday.
You’ll notice that Joseph is speaking in that past tense.
“That’s been done, guys,” he added, confident the team had already accomplished that goal.
“[Vice president of football operations and general manager] John [Elway] and his team did a great job of identifying Broncos,” the new coach explained. “Last week, we signed Leary and Watson two strong, big guys, so we got bigger there, two physical guys but most of all two good people, good teammates and guys who work hard. Today, we signed two defensive linemen, Domata Peko and Zach Kerr form the Colts. I was with Domata for two seasons in Cincy, and he’s a guy that’s missed two games in his entire career, he’s played every game for seven straight years. He’s a big man, so we got bigger there also. We got bigger on both sides of the ball, that was our goal.”
“We’re excited about them,” Elway added. “The offensive and defensive line have been a focus for us, getting more physical on both sides of the ball; we feel like we’ve done that. It’s been a good start.”
How can they help? “Well, size,” Joseph explained, the four men amassing nearly 1,300 pounds.
The team set out to find solid players that would bring mass, strength and attitude to their efforts in the trenches. On the defensive side, they obtained two similar yet very different players, starting with Peko, a respected veteran with a clear role.
“He understands it’s his job to hold the point between the center and the guard to keep our linebackers free,” the head coach explained. “He understands that, and he wants that job, and he’s been good at it for a long time. He doesn’t miss practice or games, that’s a talent.”
“I’m a nose,” Peko said simply. “I’ve been a nose guard in Cincy for 11 years.”
On the other hand, you have Kerr, young and full of untapped potential, with the ability to play all over the place.
“Zach is a guy who is different,” Joseph explained. “He’s played the five, he’s played the shade and the three… He can play on sub downs with comfort. He can play first and second down at the five and the three or the shade with comfort. He’s a young guy with huge, huge upside. When you watch the tape he flashes explosion; he plays hard.”
“I was all over the place,” Kerr added with a smile.
Opposite of those two, you have another pair of similar yet different players. Different in the positions they play, similar in bringing a very specific mindset to Denver.
“When you watch Leary play, he played the game with an attitude,” the coach said. “He was physical, he’s trying to finish blocks—and same with Watson—both of those kids play with an attitude. That’s something that helps the entire culture of your offensive line, running the ball on our terms; heavy box, light box, let’s run the football. That’s the attitude you want. You want guys who want to run it, who are finishing blocks, you want tough guys.”
The Broncos have yet to bring in that quarterback everybody is talking about, and many big names on both sides of the ball have come and gone without the appearance of much pursuit from the Orange & Blue. At team headquarters, though, the overarching feeling is that the team has done exactly what they set out to do.
“We got bigger on both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively,” Joseph said. “That goal has been met.”
The good news for those hoping for more, the team made these moves for a relatively small price tag, still holding substantial cap room for a potential bigger name.
“We’re not done,” concluded Elway.