(Sports Network) - If the Broncos can complete the trade of Clinton Portis for cornerback Champ Bailey, they will have addressed their biggest offseason need. Denver hasn't had a shutdown corner in years, and despite the strides the defense made under first-year coordinator Larry Coyer, the unit was absolutely helpless in a blowout loss at Indianapolis in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
Denver also addressed its own top free agent by signing middle linebacker Al Wilson to a long-term deal. The Broncos had a rare good run in free agency last year and hope to follow up with another productive offseason.
Quarterback Jake Plummer was solid for the most part in his first season in Denver, and kept his turnovers under control. Safety Nick Ferguson was better than expected, while Daryl Gardener was another bust at defensive tackle.
The Broncos need to re-sign Ferguson and could use an upgrade over Kenoy Kennedy at strong safety. The top priority, now, though is a wide receiver. Ashley Lelie was not as productive as expected, but he still has the makings of a long time starter. Rod Smith is no longer a deep threat and Ed McCaffrey will have to restructure his contract or be released.
If Portis is gone to Washington in the Bailey trade, the Broncos may want a veteran back as insurance for speedster Quentin Griffin. Fullback Reuben Droughns is an unrestricted free agent the team will likely sign if it cuts Mike Anderson.
Defensive end Bertrand Berry led the team with 11.5 sacks and Denver could retain him. He is very quick but undersized and may be worth more to the Broncos than to another team. Outside linebacker Ian Gold was injured during the season. He's expected to be 100 percent for 2004, but the special teams ace and playmaker may not be back. Backups Jashon Sykes and Donnie Spragan played well in extensive action when Gold and John Mobley were injured.
KEY UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DE-Bertrand Berry, LB-Ian Gold, S-Nick Ferguson, FB-Reuben Droughns, OT-Blake Brockermeyer, LB-Keith Burns, WR-Chris Cole, TE- Patrick Hape, CB-Ryan McNeil, CB-Jimmy Spencer, LB-Johnny Rutledge, CB-Scott Turner.
KEY RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: OG-Ben Hamilton, DE-Reggie Hayward, LB-Donnie Spragan, OG-Steve Herndon.