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John Elway’s free company, draft approach gives clues to Broncos’ offseason plans

In February 2014, two weeks after the Broncos were thrashed in Super Bowl XLVIII, general manager John Elway stood inside Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and tipped his cards to his next move.

His Broncos were just mauled by a Seattle defense Elway knew he had to match. So, as more than 300 draft prospects prepared to take the field for an array of drills and media meet-and-greets at the NFL combine, Elway began to look ahead to the first step of his offseason makeover.

He talked about the need for “those strong safeties that also have the ability to cover.” He addressed the need for speed on the defensive side to handle mobile quarterbacks. He spoke of his plan to make his biggest moves on the open market.

“With free agency, we’re always trying to get ourselves in a position where when we go into the draft — we don’t have a glaring weakness where we are reaching for somebody in the draft,” Elway said. “So I think it’s important for free agency, in my opinion, to try to pick up the places where you think you have glaring holes and fill those holes and then when you go to the draft be able to draft the best players that you hope are going to have great careers in the NFL.”

A month later, Elway was back in Colorado introducing the fruits of his free-agent spending spree: safety T.J. Ward, cornerback Aqib Talib and outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware.

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