'Tumultuous' off-season continues for Broncos
Team productive amid tragedy, high turnover
Mar. 26, 2007 12:00 AM
DENVER - No team has attacked the NFL's roster-enhancing off-season period with more vigor than the Denver Broncos. They have been determined, creative, aggressive and bold.
And with nearly every turn, they have been met with the luck of an Irishman the morning after St. Patrick's Day. What a headache.
The latest frustration came Friday, when the trade that would have sent defensive captain Al Wilson to the New York Giants in exchange for a draft pick and salary-cap relief was aborted when the middle linebacker failed his physical. advertisement
This hasn't been the off-season of trade for the Broncos. It has been the off-season of trade with strings attached.
"Tumultuous is the first word that comes to mind," Broncos cornerback Domonique Foxworth said. "There's been so many extremes - great gains and great losses. We've lost not only players, but people.
"There might have been more ups and downs in our off-season than there was in our season."
Consider: The Broncos traded Jake Plummer to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a fourth-round draft pick, only to have the quarterback retire.
The Broncos acquired Dre' Bly from the Detroit Lions, only to learn the cornerback preferred a deal to the Washington Redskins.
They acquired defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson from the Miami Dolphins, only to have "Big Daddy" balk over issues with his knee and possibly his desire to play a 14th season in the NFL.
Of course, these transaction hiccups have been only mildly discouraging next to the tragedies the Broncos have encountered. The franchise went 47 years without having a player on its active roster die. This off-season, the Broncos attended two funerals in two months to mourn the deaths of Darrent Williams and Damien Nash, who both were 24 years old and had just completed their second NFL seasons.
Despite it all, the Broncos' front office morphed into the personality of Mike Shanahan, the team's steely coach and football operations boss, and relentlessly persevered.
A much cleaner voyage was discovered in free agency, where Denver picked up Travis Henry, a potential 1,500-yard rusher in the Broncos' vaunted zone-blocking system; Daniel Graham, a former University of Colorado star who is considered among the league's best two-way tight ends; and Alvin McKinley, a starting defensive tackle with the Cleveland Browns who offsets the uncertainty of Wilkinson.
The Broncos also strengthened their reserves by signing quarterback Patrick Ramsey, wide receiver Brandon Stokley and guard Montrae Holland.
Add up the good against the setbacks, and the Broncos came away with quite a haul, especially if they reach peace with Bly.
"I have all respect for our front-office people and Coach Shanahan," Foxworth said. "They've put together one of the best teams in the NFL throughout the years and it's not by coincidence."
Up next is the NFL draft. At this point, the most shocking move the hyperactive Broncos could make April 28 is if they keep their No. 21 overall pick.
Shanahan, his coaching staff, front-office executives and scouts will gather for extensive draft meetings beginning April 2.