Broncos hope to keep their current linemen


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Jan 22, 2006
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Broncos hope to keep their current linemen
By Bill Williamson
Denver Post Staff Writer

Indianapolis - Last year, the buzz at the NFL combine was how the Broncos were going to find a new defensive line. One year later, the chatter is about how they will keep the principals in the 2005 front.

Denver is negotiating with defensive tackle Gerard Warren, acquired in a trade from Cleveland in a deal born at the 2005 combine. Talks are expected to resume Monday, and both sides said they are making progress.

The Broncos also have to address the contracts of starting ends Trevor Pryce and Courtney Brown. Both deals will have to be dramatically restructured. Pryce's agent, Peter Schaffer, said Friday that Pryce would be reluctant to take a pay cut.

The Broncos want to increase last season's sack total of 28. One situation that could develop is a trade for the New York Jets' John Abraham. The Jets placed the franchise tag on the defensive end, but there's a chance a trade could be worked out. But a deal with Abraham is likely to develop only if Denver fails to reach agreement with its current players. Houston and San Diego, which have more salary cap room than Denver, are expected to have interest in Abraham.

Broncos defensive coordinator Larry Coyer said the Broncos are interested in adding a sack specialist.

"I know this about (coach) Mike Shanahan: There will be a move," Coyer said. "We're going to address the needs to get to the Super Bowl. Whatever that is, you don't know. I don't know. When I first heard about Champ Bailey, I started laughing, 'We're not going to be able to do that.' There he was."

Meanwhile, the Broncos met with the agents for free agent Matt Lepsis on Friday night. There's a strong chance talks with Lepsis, like Warren, could continue into the week before teams and the players' association try to iron out a new agreement.

The deadline is late Thursday; free agency begins Friday, and extensions will likely go to the wire. Houston is expected to have an interest in Lepsis if he tests the market.

Pope not coming back

Defensive tackle Monsanto Pope does not plan to return to the Broncos, according to his agent, Ron Del Duca. Pope, who is an unrestricted free agent, was a starter in 2004 but rarely played last season.

"He is not coming back there," Del Duca said. "Why should he? He can go somewhere else and play. If he stays there, he'll stay on the bench."

Backup linebacker Patrick Chukwurah also is likely to test the open market. One team that could have an interest in him is Cleveland.

Schedule talk

There is a good chance the Broncos will be the opponent when the NFL kicks off the season Thursday, Sept. 7, at Pittsburgh. The league will continue the recent tradition of starting the season at the home of the defending world champion.

The game, which would be a rematch of the AFC championship game, is set to be announced next month. Meanwhile, it appears Kansas City could host a third Thanksgiving Day game.


Coyer said linebacker D.J. Williams played less last season because he was replaced by Ian Gold in the nickel packages. Coyer said Williams would work more in practice at middle linebacker, but said there was no indication Al Wilson would play any less.

Staff writer Mike Klis contributed to this report.
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