NFL free agency is off and running, and we're keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2023 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from our experts. The new league year began Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, which means free-agent signings could be made official after that. The first round of the 2023 NFL draft begins April 27 on ESPN.
The Denver Broncos wasted little time as the legal tampering window opened by quickly shoring up the offensive line. Former San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey agreed to join the Broncos on a five-year, $87.5 million deal with $50 million guaranteed. Additionally, former Baltimore Ravens guard Ben Powers agreed to a four-year, $52 million deal.
Here's a breakdown of every 2023 NFL free-agent signing by the Broncos, and how each will impact the upcoming season:
Tremon Smith, cornerback
What it means: The Broncos will continue to look for depth at cornerback, both in free agency as well as the draft. But Smith is a player who has played in 66 games in his career largely on special teams. He has played at least 48 percent of his team's special teams snaps in each of his six seasons, at least 77 percent of the special teams snaps in each of the last two years, including averaging 24.7 yards per kickoff return in his career with a TD.
What's the risk: Very little financially. Smith figures to get plenty of work in both coverage units on special teams and get an opportunity to be at least the kickoff returner as well. With the release of Ronald Darby before free agency, the Broncos still need to add at the position.
Samaje Perine, running back
The Broncos agreed to a two-year contract with veteran running back Samaje Perine on Tuesday, a source told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, confirming reports.
What it means: Despite some public optimism from general manager George Paton that Javonte Williams could be ready for the start of the regular season -- Williams suffered multiple ligament tears in his right knee in Week 4 last season -- the Broncos need to make additions at the position. Williams' status will be uncertain as he works through his recovery and the Broncos had two unrestricted free agents in Latavius Murray and Mike Boone. The 27-year-old Perine is a quality third-down back as a reliable receiver (he had a career-best 38 catches last season) and is proficient in pass protection.
What's the risk: The Broncos will likely also take a long look at the class of running backs in April's draft, but they need Perine to be at the top of his game, especially if Williams is limited at any point next season. He hasn't topped 95 carries since his rookie season in 2017, but has been productive in his role over the last three seasons in particular.
Ben Powers, guard
Powers agreed to a four-year, $52 million deal. In 2022, Powers led Baltimore with 1,096 snaps, becoming the only Ravens player to participate in every offensive play.
What it means: Powers, who has started at both left and right guard with the Ravens, potentially gives the Broncos some additional power in the middle of the formation. They have struggled at the point of attack at times in recent years and have allowed far too much pressure in the middle of the field on their quarterbacks. Quarterback Russell Wilson saw his footwork and decision-making deteriorate last season, especially as the offense kept playing out of three-wide sets because the Broncos couldn't control opposing interior rushers.
What's the risk: In some ways, the Broncos are looking at the 26-year-old as they would if he were coming out of the draft from a run-heavy offense. The Ravens' scheme was unique to Lamar Jackson and that offense. Powers' run-blocking efficiency was one of the best in the league and he's a disciplined player who was flagged just once last season. The only real risk is Powers, who Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said had a "phenomenal''' season in 2022, could stagnate or not perform as well in pass protection as the Broncos hope. But this is still an ascending player who fills a big need.
Mike McGlinchey, offensive tackle
McGlinchey will join the Broncos on a five-year, $87.5 million deal. After missing 12 games in 2021 with a torn quadriceps, McGlinchey started every game for the 49ers last season.
What it means: McGlinchey, who was the top right tackle in the market according to several league executives, was at the top of the Broncos' priority list from the first meetings between the personnel department and Sean Payton's new coaching staff. McGlinchey is coming off a season when he posted the second-highest pass-block win rate (89.6%) of his career to go with the highest run-block win rate (81.3%) of his career. He is the starter at right tackle as soon as the pen hits the dotted line for him to sign his deal.
What's the risk: The biggest risk is McGlinchey somehow gets sucked into the Bermuda-Triangle-like vortex that the right tackle has been prone to in the Broncos' offense. They spent big over recent seasons on players like Menelik Watson, Ja'Wuan James, Donald Stephenson and Billy Turner only to see injuries and well-below-expectations play force the team to move on from each. McGlinchey is in his prime and gives the Broncos the kind of confidence on that edge they haven't had in their current playoff drought.
Jarrett Stidham, quarterback
Stidham is expected to receive a two-year deal worth $10 million, sources confirmed to ESPN.
What it means: The Broncos wanted to acquire a backup quarterback the new coaching staff believed could function well in the offense if Wilson gets hurt. Stidham, a former fourth-round pick by the Patriots in the 2019 draft, has started two games in his career -- both last season for the Las Vegas Raiders. He is believed to know the Broncos' new quarterbacks coach -- Davis Webb -- well, too.
What's the risk: He has a limited resume given he threw just 46 passes in his three seasons combined with the Patriots. He made both of his career starts in Weeks 17 and 18 to close out the season for the Raiders last season. He threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers in the first of those starts. Wilson, who didn't miss a game in the first nine years of his career, has now missed three games in each of the last two seasons. The Broncos did not tender Brett Rypien -- last year's backup to Wilson -- as a restricted free agent, so the new staff was on the hunt for someone they prefer.
Chris Manhertz, tight end
Manhertz, 30, joins the Broncos on a two-year, $3 million deal.
What it means: The Broncos' new coaching staff wants more physicality across the offensive front and Manhertz joins the early moves in free agency by the team that proves that. The 6-foot-6, 255-pounder has 24 receptions in his seven seasons in the league combined, but his frame is almost that of a tackle. With Greg Dulcich expected to get most of his work in the passing game, the Broncos needed another more in-line, option for their two tight-end sets.
What's the risk: It's a low-risk deal for the Broncos across the board. Manhertz will have a specific role and has missed just one game over the last six seasons, playing at least 340 snaps on offense in each of the last five years. He's also had a steady diet of special teams work in his time with the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars, so he fills a need for the Broncos there as well.
Alex Singleton, linebacker
Singleton will be back in Denver with a three-year, $18 million contract.
What it means: The Broncos have rewarded Singleton's production and durability after he constructed perhaps his best season as a pro in 2022 when the Broncos desperately needed it. Singleton was signed to a one-year deal late in free agency last year with the idea he would primarily be a special teams player. Instead, because of injuries, he ended up as a starter and led the team in tackles. It was the third consecutive year Singleton led his team in tackles -- he did so with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2020 and 2021. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph will have a spot for him at linebacker -- Singleton either led or tied for the team lead in tackles in eight games last season and had two games with at least 20 tackles.
What's the risk: Singleton turned 29 in December and has played in every game in each of the last three seasons. The only risk is if injuries stack up on defense again for the Broncos, they might have to play him in some pass coverage situations -- especially in man-to-man -- when offenses have made some plays against him. But that's not for Singleton to worry about. If the Broncos keep him as a big part of their early down base looks and can keep him in zone coverages where he is reliable with his positioning when he does play in some longer down-and-distance situations, they'll limit any difficulties he has.
Zach Allen, defensive end
Former Arizona Cardinals defensive end Zach Allen is getting a three-year, $47.75 million contract from the Broncos.
What it means: This signing fits with the Broncos' philosophy in free agency's early going -- physicality. Allen, who played for Broncos defensive coordinator Vance Joseph for the last four seasons, was one of the league's best in run defense last season and provided enough interior pressure for 5.5 sacks to go with 20 quarterback hits. His run stop win rate was 37.9% last season, which was among the league's top 40 defensive players overall in that category while his eight passes knocked down led all defensive linemen. The Broncos expected to lose Dre'Mont Jones in free agency and were intent on securing defensive line help early on.
What's the risk: Allen hasn't played a full season in his career with 13, 15 and 13 games played in each of his last three seasons respectively after he played four as a rookie in 2019. The Broncos need him to continue the improvement he has shown in the last two seasons. Joseph will have no difficulty fitting Allen into the defensive plan. The Broncos struggled to shut down opposing rushing attacks, something that contributed to the team's eight losses by a touchdown or less, even when they led the league in scoring defense for a time late in the season.