The Road To MetLife Stadium was one of historic proportions for the Denver Broncos. After shattering nearly every offensive record throughout the 2013 NFL regular season, the Broncos were, well, rather offensive in an entirely different way in a 43-8 Super Bowl XLVIII blowout loss against the Seattle Seahawks. With this being a team built to win now much more so than later, the window of opportunity is closing quickly in Denver, and that is not a fact that is lost on John Elway. The Broncos know that they must go all-in now if they expect to make it back to the playoffs and compete for a spot in Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale in 2015. With that being said, it is extremely rare for a Super Bowl loser to hoist the Lombardi Trophy the following season. Like every team who reaches the Super Bowl, the Broncos will face many questions this offseason. Here are the five that must be addressed by Denver, as the offseason is set to begin with free agency and the 2014 NFL Draft.
In the spirit of full-disclosure, I’m working as part of the Road to MetLife Stadium Preferred Blogger Program. Throughout the year I’ll be receiving special access to MetLife events and be conducting reader giveaways, with prizes provided by MetLife and Sony Electronics. However, no payment was given or expected for posting about the program, and as always, all opinions given here are fully my own.
5. Can the Broncos count on three injured stars to return close to full health in 2014? Von Miller and Ryan Clady missed the majority of the season for Denver, and Chris Harris went out in the postseason. Can any of them return to full health in 2014? If so, the Broncos will receive a huge boost, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
4. Does Champ Bailey REALLY want to return to Denver for one more season? The answer will be clear right away. Bailey has a $10 million cap number for 2014, which the Broncos will obviously not pay. If he takes a big cut, they will likely welcome him back for his swan song season. If not, he will have to decide if he wants to play elsewhere or call it a career.
3. How much should Denver pay its tight ends? Julius Thomas proved he is a beast, and will need to get paid like one following next season. But Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreesen have a combined cap number near $7 million in 2014. Time to let both of them go and move on by paying less money at that position.
2. How hard should Denver try to sign Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno? Decker will likely get a far higher contract from a team desperate for a wide receiver, meaning the Broncos will wave good-bye to him on his way out the door. They will need to replace him, but they have a quarterback who makes receivers, not the other way around. Also, Moreno had done little before this season, and the Broncos did draft Montee Ball to become the bell-cow sooner rather than later. Moreno could also depart via free agency.
1. Is Peyton Manning coming back? Really, this one matters much more than all of the previous questions combined. Without No. 18, the others mean little, as there is no replacement for Manning. Without him, the Broncos can forget about Super Bowl XLIX and focus on just competing for a wild-card spot or a mid-first round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
I hope that you have enjoyed the coverage of Super Bowl XLVIII as well as all of the story lines leading up to The Road To MetLife Stadium. Make sure to stay tuned to Boston Super Blog for more coverage and recaps as well as analysis of last night’s game in MetLife Stadium, as well as a look ahead to where the Broncos and Seahawks will go from here.
Finally, in case you have not yet seen the video of NFL players – both past and present – signing a collaborative version of the National Anthem, then what are you waiting for? I must admit that I went into it expecting to have some laughs, but these guys were pretty impressive. Current players such as Justin Tuck and Josh Brown of the New York Giants, Greg Jennings of the Minnesota Vikings and Nick Mangold of the New York Jets, as well as former stars including Emmitt Smith and Eddie George all got together to put out quite an impressive rendition of the National Anthem. If you have not yet seen it, make sure to check it out by clicking here.
Make sure to follow all of the latest on Twitter by using the #Road2MetLifeStadium and tag @MetLifeCentral, as well as checking back early and often to Boston Super Blog for all of the latest information regarding Super Bowl XLVIII in MetLife Stadium between the Broncos and Seahawks!