With free agency beginning in March and the NFL season now officially over, the Broncos will turn their attention towards players on the current roster that should be re-signed. Denver has 16 total team free agents during the 2013 offseason. 10 of them are unrestricted free agents, four of them are restricted and two of them are exclusive-rights free agents.
Of the 16 free agents, whom are the five that the Broncos need to re-sign the most?
LT Ryan Clady - Clady will enter the free agency period as the best tackle on the market, and perhaps the best offensive lineman (along with Jake Long). At just 26 years of age, Clady is already a three-time Pro Bowl and three-time All-Pro, having been named to both the Pro Bowl and the All-Pro team in his first season protecting Peyton Manning's blindside.
If the Broncos would like to ensure that Manning is healthy for as long as he throws footballs for a living, re-signing Clady is by far the offseason's biggest priority.
WR Brandon Stokley – Stokley is perhaps Manning's most dependable target, having played with Peyton from 2003-2006. Although Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are clearly the top two receivers in the pecking order, Decker is relied upon to move the chains and make tough catches. Despite being on semi-retirement before the Broncos signed Manning, Stokley caught 45 passes for 544 yards and five touchdowns as Denver's slot receiver.
Re-signing Stokley should not be hard to do as both Manning and Stokley should both be eager for the opportunity to play together again as they resume their quest to win another Super Bowl together.
C Dan Koppen – Koppen was New England's starting center since being drafted by the team in 2003, but injuries ended his Patriots career before the 2012 season started as New England released the nine-year veteran entering training camp.
The Broncos entered the season with J.D. Walton as their starting center and rookie Philip Blake as the backup. Well, Blake got injured and was placed on injured reserve in mid-September, leading the Broncos into signing Koppen as an in-season pickup.
Walton would end up getting injured a couple of games later himself, and Koppen would take over the starting job for the Broncos. Koppen played more effective than Walton did as the starting center, and although Walton is signed heading into next season and Koppen will be 34 years old in 2013, re-signing Koppen should be near the top of Denver's "to-do" list.
Colquitt is a restricted free agent, meaning that unlike Koppen, Stokley and Clady – all unrestricted free agents – the Broncos have the right to match any offer given to Colquitt by other NFL teams.
That should favor the Broncos when it pertains to negotiations with the four-year punter.
DT Justin Bannan – Bannan was brought back to Denver after a one-year hiatus from the team. Bannan served as one of Denver's starting defensive tackles for the entire season – along with Kevin Vickerson – and brought stability to the Denver defense, helping lead the team to a No. 4 defensive ranking in points allowed.
He had 42 tackles with one fumble forced and one fumble recovered during the 2012 season. The Broncos could get better on the interior of the line through the draft, but in the meantime, it wouldn't hurt re-signing Bannan and bringing stability to a defensive line that lost defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley to free agency during the 2012 free agency period.Tags: Brandon Stokley, Britton Colquitt, Dan Koppen, Denver, Denver Broncos, Football, Free Agency, Justin Bannan, NFL, Ryan Clady