Throughout the offseason, we’ll be profiling players who may end up in Denver when all is said and done with NFL Free Agency. The Broncos clearly have plenty of holes to fill before they get back to Super-Bowl form and we’ll be examining a long list of players they may choose to help the franchise do just that.
In the past year, Jahri Evans’ career has taken many twists and turns yet one thing has stayed the same: his high level of play. As one of the best players in the New Orleans Saints history, Evans refused to take a pay cut for the second year in a row last offseason, resulting in the Saints releasing him. After a stint with the Seattle Seahawks that didn’t even last a month, Evans signed back with the Saints just days before the season started.
Despite not having any offseason practice with New Orleans, Evans started all 16 games at right guard and graded out very highly according to Pro Football Focus. The 12-year vet has been one of the best offensive guards, if not the best, since entering the league in 2006—earning six trips to the Pro Bowl (2009-2014), four first-team All-Pro awards (2009-2012) and was named to the New Orleans Saints All-50 team.
There may not be any player in the NFL that knows more about the right guard position than Evans. As a fourth-round pick out of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Evans started every game of his career at right guard, including all 16 games his rookie year. In his 11 year career, Evans has missed a total of seven games, including five in 2015 and two in 2013.
After being highly discounted on the free agent market last year—presumably since missing five games the year before—Evans proved last season that he has more in the tank than organizations thought, even at 33-years old.
When healthy, which is often, Evans is consistently one of the best in the business. Even last year Evans put up great numbers for an offensive lineman. When New Orleans ran behind Evans they averaged 6 yards per carry on 134 rushing attempts, a highly impressive average over an entire season.
With all of the accolades that Evans has amassed throughout his career, he doesn’t have many weaknesses. After seeing his pass blocking drop in 2015, he turned it around last season showing that he is still an all-around player.
The biggest concern for a team other than the Saints is if Evans can succeed in a city and system other than New Orleans. His short stint in Seattle would likely raise questions around the league about his ability to play in a different organization other than the Saints.
How he fits in Denver
If the Denver Broncos were to bring in Evans it could be a very similar situation to what they had with guard Evan Mathis during the 2015 Super Bowl season. Evans would be an immediate starter, likely at right guard, and would give Denver a boost in both run and pass protection.
His time in Denver would likely be short, but if general manager John Elway believes the Broncos can contend for a championship now, Evans could be a great year or two solution on the offensive line.