Here are the five players who got the non-exclusive franchise tag, and the amount of the tender offer for each:
This may not make either Bryant or Thomas happy, but it ensures that they aren't going anywhere for at least one more season. Both players figure to be ranked in the top 5 at their position in 2015 fantasy drafts.
It’s a “safe bet” the Broncos will be applying the franchise tag to receiver Demaryius Thomas, per a source with knowledge of the situation. While the two sides are talking, a deal currently isn’t expected in the next two days.
While the magnitude of the parties’ positions isn’t known, Thomas stands to earn $13 million fully guaranteed in 2015, if the tag is applied and if he signs the franchise tender. After the tag is applied, the Broncos and Thomas will have until July 15 to strike a long-term deal.
With three straight top 5 finishes in both PPR and standard formats, and Peyton Manning likely back under center, the 27-year-old Thomas is one of the “sure things” at the receiver position. He got off to a slow start in 2014, averaging just 4.3-47-.33 (11.0 PPR FP) in the first three games, but caught fire after his team’s bye, posting 7.5-114-.77 (23.5 PPR FP) over the final 13 weeks.
Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said he spoke with trainers about Dennis Pitta’s status this week, and their main message was that an answer on his availability won’t come until this summer. The Ravens likely won’t wait until they get that definitive answer to spur into action.
“Are we going to try to add some tight ends to this offense? Yes,” General Manager Ozzie Newsome said during Tuesday’s press conference.
Newsome’s comment made it clear that the Ravens will look outside the building to bring in new pieces over the next few months. This year’s draft is considered thin at the position, but the Ravens will keep a close eye on prospects who could help the offense this fall.
By season's end, Anderson was a Pro Bowler. But Anderson started the final eight games with John Fox as head coach. Gary Kubiak is the Broncos' coach now.
"He's got to go earn that," Kubiak said. "When he walked off the field last year he was playing that way. He's a young player. I told him that when I talked to him. I said, "C.J. when you come back for the offseason you need to handle yourself like you're the starter. ... I think he's ready to do that."
This is a common motivational tactic that coaches use with young, less-established players, but Anderson should be the team's RB1 in 2015 provided he doesn't report to OTAs out of shape. He began to see starter-type touches in Week 10 with 17 touches for 163 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders. Over the final eight weeks, he averaged 24.0 touches for 132 yards and 1.3 TD, and was the #1 RB in that span. If the Broncos commit to Anderson, he should thrive under new Kubiak, who just coaxed a career year out of journeyman Justin Forsett. Provided QB Peyton Manning returns for another season, Anderson’s production should continue.
Latimer is a player to monitor this offseason, especially if Wes Welker retires and Emmanuel Sanders moves inside. Latimer had a disappointing rookie season and wasn't even able to beat out Andre Caldwell. However, it takes time to earn Peyton Manning's trust, and the franchise didn't draft him in the second round to ride the proverbial pine.
Julius Thomas' representatives, with his back-to-back seasons of 12 touchdown receptions, are looking to move him into the upper reaches of the pay-grade at the position. With a long list of free agents that includes wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, the Broncos are not expected to put a better offer in front of Thomas than he could get elsewhere.
Thomas finished with the 4th-highest PPG in standard formats in each of the last two seasons, but he missed two games in 2013 and three more (plus reduced snaps in three additional games) in 2014. His value is likely to take a hit if he signs elsewhere.
Welker, who ranks 20th all time among receivers with 890 career catches, said Monday he intends to play on.
"Just getting ready for 2015," Welker told The Denver Post via text.
FoxSports.com cited sources in its report on Feb. 10 that Welker was considering retirement.
"Never ever came out of my mouth," Welker said.
Where Welker plays is uncertain. He becomes an unrestricted free agent on March 10.
Welker's numbers were way down last year (49-464-2) compared to his first season in Denver (73-778-10) even though he played one additional game. The Broncos' pass attempts dropped by 10 percent, and Welker's targets took the biggest hit. We don't expect him to be back in Denver, especially if the team is serious about getting Cody Latimer more involved. Emmanuel Sanders can play the slot with (free agent) Demaryius Thomas and Latimer playing on the outside.
If the Broncos continue emphasizing three-WR sets, and Wes Welker does not return, there's a role for WR Cody Latimer, perhaps lining up outside with Emmanuel Sanders moving into the slot in that package, or even in the slot, on routes like the one he ran in Dallas in the preseason finale last summer.
One aspect of Latimer's skill set that must be noted is his blocking ability, considered by some to be the best among last year's wide receiver class. If he can take his outside blocking skills and transfer them to the inside -- not as a tight end, but standing up in a tight slot alignment -- then the Broncos could have the blocking effectiveness of a two-tight end set with a three-wide receiver formation.
Latimer is unproven, but presents possibilities that the new coaching staff will likely explore.
Latimer is a player to monitor this offseason, especially if Welker retires and Sanders moves inside. Latimer had a disappointing rookie season and wasn't even able to beat out Andre Caldwell. However, it takes time to earn Peyton Manning's trust and the franchise didn't draft him in the second round to ride the proverbial pine.
Peyton Manning reassured Denver Broncos officials, including general manager John Elway, that he is physically and mentally prepared to play at a significant level in 2015, league and team sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
The two sides met Thursday in Denver and while retirement technically remains an option for Manning, it is not one he expressed to Elway and CEO Joe Ellis, sources said.
Manning took it upon himself to get a comprehensive evaluation from a renown performance manager and trainer, Mackie Shilstone, during the past 2½ weeks in New Orleans. Shilstone, who was worked with several elite athletes in the latter stages of their careers, has given the quarterback a strong assessment based on numerous workouts and tests, a source said.
The quad injury that plagued Manning at the end of the 2014 season is fully healed.
Manning first popped up on the injury report with a thigh injury after Week 15 (vs. San Diego). When looking only at his first 13 games, Manning averaged 301 yards, 2.8 TD and 0.8 INT, or 21.4 fantasy points per game. That would have been good enough for the third-highest average if he were able to keep that pace. In the final three weeks, including the game in which he injured the thigh, Manning averaged 272 yards and just 1.0 TD versus 1.3 INT. Even with the reduced production, Manning finished as the #4 quarterback in 2014. If he's fully healthy and ready to go, we'd expect him to be selected in the top 5 in 2015 fantasy drafts, though the Broncos' activity in free agency (namely re-signing Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas) will impact his value.
Broncos RB C.J. Anderson did enough behind an offensive line that struggled mightily at times in an offense that couldn't find its rhythm over the season's final month to open the offseason as the starter. What happens next, however, will be a test of his football maturity as well as his preparation given success can often be more difficult for some to handle than adversity. Montee Ball, too, has promised to return "ready to win the job." Ronnie Hillman has plenty of untapped potential as well, even as the Broncos keep waiting for the career light to go on with their former third-round pick. They thought it had when Hillman had two 100-yard games in a three-week span in October only to have his season derailed by a foot injury.
Anderson probably holds the most risk of the top 12 running backs heading into the offseason. He was tremendous down the stretch, but there's a new regime in town (though he's considered to be a good fit for new HC Gary Kubiak's zone-blocking attack). Remember, he didn't keep himself in top physical condition last offseason, so that's something to monitor this spring and summer.
With the Broncos' return to zone blocking in 2015 under Head Coach Gary Kubiak and Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison, C.J. Anderson's rampage through opposing defenses could be just the beginning. Kubiak and Dennison's penchant for extracting career seasons from running backs continued last year in Baltimore, when they helped craft an offense that turned Justin Forsett loose.
"I just can't wait to get to work, to be honest," Anderson said.
Anderson began to see starter-type touches in Week 10 with 17 touches for 163 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders. Over the final eight weeks, he averaged 24.0 touches for 132 yards and 1.3 TD, and was the #1 RB in that span. If the Broncos commit to Anderson (and why wouldn’t they?), he should thrive under new Kubiak, who just coaxed a career year out of journeyman Justin Forsett. Provided QB Peyton Manning returns for another season, Anderson’s production should continue.
The Bears are hiring Adam Gase as their offensive coordinator, source said.
According to three trustworthy sources, Peyton Manning wants to return to the Broncos, but won't and can't make a final decision until he takes an annual physical examination mandated by his contract. Last year, the test results were learned at the beginning of March. The Broncos have requested that Manning let them know his plans by March 9 — the day before teams must exercise their rights on veteran players under contract. Manning, who turns 39 on March 24, is due $19 million next season.
Broncos have agreed to terms with Gary Kubiak, making him 15th coach in team history.
Kubiak's offense in Baltimore was 12th in total offense and 8th in scoring. It was a major turnaround from the year before. His first order of business is to convince QB Peyton Manning to come back for another season. Kubiak will reportedly bring Rick Dennison with him as offensive coordinator. Dennison was previously the QB coach in Baltimore.
Jack Del Rio is expected to be the next head coach of the Oakland Raiders.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday morning, citing two sources informed of the team's thinking, that signs point to the former Broncos defensive coordinator and Jaguars head coach being the next man tapped to lead the middling franchise out of a playoff drought that began in 2002. Rapoport adds that the Raiders decided Tuesday against sticking with interim coach Tony Sparano.
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