Jared Allen

The Denver Broncos aren’t planning any major moves when it comes to free agents in 2013, despite not being completely pleased about their defensive end situation. It’s never too early to plan for the future, and the impressive 2014 free agents class at the position (unless extension deals are reached beforehand), which includes Jared Allen, Michael Bennett, Michael Johnson and Justin Tuck might be very intriguing for a team that seems to be positioned to make a Super Bowl run as long as Peyton Manning stays healthy.

After the whole Elvis Dumervil debacle, the names of Dwight Freeney and John Abraham came up, not for the first time. Still, it doesn’t look like the Broncos want to commit themselves to players that are well beyond their primes. They used their fifth round (one of them) pick on Quanterus Smith, coming out of Western Kentucky, but unless something unpredictable happens, he’s not going to set the league on fire next season.

So, who is there to start with? The Broncos have Robert Ayers, who has been one big disappointment since being taken as the number 18 overall pick in the 2009 draft, and Shaun Phillips, who has spent his entire career with the San Diego Chargers and is more of a linebacker than defensive end, but in any case he’s been quite productive over the last few years.

Both Ayers and Phillips will be free agents next season – Ayers ending his rookie contract, knowing he has to do quite well this season to show he deserves more chances from the Broncos or from anyone else in the NFL, while Phillips was signed on a one-year contract only. That leaves positions available, not to mention money, to chase a more impressive signing class in 12 months.

Jared Allen has to be the most impressive of them, although at his age (31), it might mean he’s beginning to decline. He has a total of 117 sacks in 141 career games in the NFL, not finishing with less than 11 over the last six seasons. Unless a steep decline in his ability to burn tackles on the edge happens this season, he’s going to be on the top of the shortlist for plenty of GMs next year. Next come Justin Tuck, Michael Bennett and Michael Johnson – all very capable, but not with the same numbers as Allen. Unless the Broncos strike gold with Ayers all of a sudden, they’ll probably be in the hunt for one of the mentioned names.

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