DENVER — When the NFL owners convene in Phoenix on Sunday, the primary issue centers on whether they will vote on the Raiders’ proposed move from Oakland to Las Vegas. The Broncos and Texans, too, could move forward on an important personnel move: Should either team gamble on the oft-injured Tony Romo?
ESPN reported Friday Romo believes he will either play for Houston or retire. The Broncos have not made Romo a priority, though he has interest in them. Denver’s stance has not changed. The Broncos possess zero motivation to trade for Romo. If and when he’s released, the Broncos are expected to express interest. Even then, several wrinkles would have to be ironed out. His contract would likely feature a low base — $5 to $8 million — with incentives for games played to help him reach his current $14 million salary.
The risk with Romo is real. He turns 37 in April and has broken his collarbone three times and his back twice. He has started four games the past two seasons. In his last healthy season in 2014, he produced, going 12-3 with 34 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Can he stay upright, particularly for a Broncos team that has no answer at left tackle? It’s a worthy concern. The flipside is equally debatable: Can the Broncos close the gap on the New England Patriots with Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch at quarterback?
With executives under the same roof, it’s possible clarity could emerge with Romo. And until the Broncos say they are out of the mix or there’s resolution with Romo — beginning a broadcasting career for Fox Sports or CBS remains a possibility according to multiple reports — then it bears watching.
It’s hard to believe the Broncos would wait until after the draft. They moved on from Colin Kaepernick on the Monday prior to last year’s draft and selected Lynch in the first round.
While quarterback remains a topic of conversation, other issues continue to percolate with the Broncos. They are sifting through options at left tackle. As I have said, I don’t believe the starter is on the roster. Alabama’s Cam Robinson is expected to visit Denver. He is one of three tackles projected to go in the first round, ranking behind Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk and Utah’s Garett Bolles. Robinson, 6-foot-6, 322 pounds, profiles for a power, man-blocking running scheme, which will be more prevalent in Denver this season.
Bolles would embrace the Broncos after serving his Mormon mission in Colorado Springs. He plays violent, but is raw. Ramczyk ranks as the draft’s top tackle, but is coming off hip surgery.
“It’s the kind of an injury where it’s about how you’re feeling. So five months of recovery is typical,” Ramczyk said when he met the media at the combine. “I should be absolutely clear by training camp. Hopefully OTAs, but I am not positive yet.”
If the Broncos believe a veteran tackle will shake loose after the draft as a salary cap casualty, they could move for a running back (Christian McCaffrey), a tight end (David Njoku) or a defensive lineman (Caleb Brantley) in the first round. Washington receiver John Ross has also been mentioned given his breathtaking speed and versatility. The Broncos need a playmaker to boost an offense that posted 56 3-and-out drives last season, fourth most in the NFL.
Other issues to monitor at the owners meetings:
— Instant replay modifications: They are looking to centralize the process with reviews made by the league’s officiating department in New York. The idea is to quicken the replay process. That’s always a good thing.
— Ejections for illegal hits: It would be a small scope of hits that would fall into this category. But the NFL is exploring the idea of ejecting players. College football operates with this rule. The problem is that it would be subjective.
— No more leaps of center: This could directly impact the Broncos. They won a game last season when safety Justin Simmons jumped over the Saints center to block an extra point that Will Parks returned for two points.