Upgrading the offensive line was one of the Denver Broncos’ biggest priorities entering the offseason. On the first day day of the free agency signing period, Denver made one big addition to the unit before losing a starter on last year’s line.
The Broncos began the the day by signing former Dallas Cowboys guard Ronald Leary to a four-year deal. Hours later, they lost left tackle Russell Okung, who Denver cut earlier this month and expressed hope of re-signing on a cheaper deal, to the divisional-rival San Diego Chargers.
Those moves mean that while the Broncos appear to have upgraded the interior of their woeful offensive line with the addition of Leary, they’re now left with a gaping hole on the outside because Okung is gone.
Leary did not allow a sack in the 12 games he started for Dallas in 2016. He’s known as a physical interior blocker who’s best in the running game.
Leary will cost a lot — Mike Garofolo reported his deal is worth $35 million, including $20 million in guaranteed money — but he’s a big upgrade over any of the guards Denver has on its roster.
The Broncos now must address the exterior of their offensive line. Okung started all 16 games at left tackle for Denver in 2016. Denver declined an option that would’ve paid him $20.5 million in guaranteed money earlier this month. He left Thursday for $25 million in guaranteed money with San Diego, according to ESPN’s Josina Anderson.
Okung struggled last season. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed the second-most pressures of any left tackle in football. It’s no surprise that Denver balked at paying that price. But this is a thin left tackle market. The Broncos might have to get creative.
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