When it comes to forming a roster it appears that Denver Broncos head man John Elway has taken a page from another former professional athlete turned executive in Danny Ainge of the Boston Celtics. Both men seem to have a special affinity for acquiring and filling their team out with experienced veterans.
Two days ago the Broncos signed 36-year-old free agent linebacker Keith Brooking to help out their linebacker depth. This move came shortly after the Broncos made the decision to sign veteran safety Jim Leonhard who is still recovering from offseason knee surgery and is still not yet cleared to practice. The signing of Brooking now brings the number of free agents that Elway has signed since the end of last season who are 30 years or older to seven.
The most well known move was the surprise signing of quarterback Peyton Manning but Elway was not finished. To try and help shore up a still leaky defense the team signed cornerback Drayton Florence and safety Mike Adams along with defensive tackle Justin Bannan.
On the offensive side of the ball Manning's old friend Brandon Stokley was brought back to compete for a reserve wide receiver position while Joel Dreesen was signed away from Houston to possibly be the team's starting tight end.
Before the 2011 season it was Elway who brought in free agents Willis McGahee and Ty Warren, both of whom are still with the club and now on the wrong side of 30.
The total amount of players listed on the Broncos current training camp roster who are 30 and over has now ballooned to 12 with the signing of Brooking. Every single one of these players figures to make the active roster.
This strategy represents a sharp contrast to the roster that Scott Pioli has built in Kansas City where only six players in training camp at St. Joseph are 30 years or older as Adam Teicher noted in his story in the Kansas City Star.
Of those six players for the Chiefs only two are projected starters on offense and defense, quarterback Matt Cassel and guard Ryan Lilja. For the Broncos their total of projected starters who are 30 and over is four times as many as the Chiefs. This list for Denver includes key positions such as quarterback, running back, cornerback and both starting defensive tackles.
So while many thought that Elway made a huge gamble by bringing in the older Manning and giving him a huge contract he has seemingly doubled down by surrounding him with fellow older veterans. The Broncos early schedule features games against teams like New England, Pittsburgh and Houston so it will be of note to see if the team wears down over the second half of the year. Chief fans obviously have to hope that Manning and the Broncos come out with some rust in the beginning and then don't have the legs to make a push at the end.