There has been some discussion amongst fans that one of the reasons the Denver Broncos lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs was that the pass rush disappeared late in the game. Joe Flacco is a statue in the pocket but had plenty of time to throw deep, and there were previously unseen cracks in Denver’s secondary that he was able to exploit.
Von Miller is great and Elvis Dumervil is a solid complement, but the Broncos have to seriously consider giving them more help in 2013. With Justin Bannan, Kevin Vickerson, Ty Warren and Jason Hunter all becoming free agents in March, the Broncos need to decide what they are going to do with the defensive line. The best option for the Broncos is Richard Seymour.
Seymour will be a free agent in March because his contract voided with the Oakland Raiders at the end of the season. Once Seymour becomes available, the Broncos should place a priority on trying to sign him to help the defensive line. Seymour still has plenty of miles left on his tires, will want to play for a winner and will probably not break the bank.
Probably the best thing about Seymour is his versatility. Seymour has experience playing defensive end in a 3-4, defensive tackle in a 4-3 and even as a 4-3 defensive end. Since the Broncos utilize Derek Wolfe at defensive end instead of defensive tackle, they could really use a pass-rusher up the middle. Seymour could also move around to exploit mismatches.
Seymour is also significantly better than any player the Broncos have on the defensive line. In just eight games, Seymour compiled a better ProFootballFocus grade (9.5) than Bannan, Vickerson and Mitch Unrein combined (7.3). According to ProFootballFocus, Seymour was the 14th-best defensive tackle in 2012.
Seymour’s pass-rushing skills seemed to drop off in 2012, but that’s a bit deceiving. The Raiders were always playing from behind, so Seymour had to focus on stopping the run (something he also did well). In 2010 and 2011, when the Raiders were more competitive, Seymour was one of the best interior pass-rushers in the NFL.
In 2010, Seymour was the most productive interior pass-rusher according to ProFootballFocus. In 2011, Seymour ranked sixth. With a full season in Denver, Seymour could still be one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. Aside from drafting a defensive tackle—which is still a good idea—Seymour is probably the best option for the Broncos.
If the Broncos re-sign Bannan to go with Seymour, the Broncos could have a formidable defensive line in 2013. With Seymour providing pass rush up the middle, opponents wouldn’t be able to focus so much attention on Miller. Bringing in Seymour also allows the Broncos to keep Wolfe at defensive end.
When the Raiders had one of the best pass rushes in the NFL, Seymour was playing next to Lamarr Houston and linebacker Kamerion Wimbley. Houston is a lot like Wolfe, in that he plays 4-3 defensive end at close to 300 pounds. Wimbley was a lot like Miller at the time, playing strong-side linebacker and spending most of his time rushing the passer and playing the run. The Broncos would have an even better version on their hands because Miller is so dynamic, and they have Dumervil on the opposite side.
It also seems that Seymour will want to play for a winner again, and that should make Denver an attractive destination. He spent the first eight years of his career with the New England Patriots, for whom he won three Super Bowls and never won fewer than nine games in a season. The Raiders haven’t won nine games in a season since they traded for Seymour just before the 2009 season.
Seymour will turn 34 years old during the 2013 season, and there isn’t a lot of precedent on how much money he will command, but a deep draft class and several other defensive tackles on the market should drive his cost down. Probably the most comparable contract is that of Casey Hampton, who made about $5 million in 2012, according to Spotrac.com.
Signing Seymour would also fit in with how the Broncos have built their roster in recent years. The Broncos don’t need to spend big in free agency to put together another great team in 2013. Like Manning, Seymour would be a short-term solution while John Elway stocks the roster with young talent. Plus, what’s better than signing one of the better players away from a division rival and then winning it all?