DENVER — Misery brought a sense of urgency.
After reaching the abyss with a 5-12 season that featured ineptitude, incompetence and internal bickering, the Broncos hit the reset button and opened their wallet wide on Monday.
In a flurry of activity over nine hours, the Broncos signed six players, guaranteeing more than $128 million in money and undergoing a makeover worthy of the Property Brothers.
It began with the signing of Ravens left guard Ben Powers after 10 a.m. and finished — we think — with the Broncos agreeing in principle on a three-year, $45.7-million deal with $32.5 million guaranteed with Cardinals defensive end Zach Allen.
The moves were dizzying as they were necessary. They were, by amount:
Right tackle Mike McGlinchey, 5-years, $87.5 million, $50 million guaranteed
Left guard Ben Powers, four-year, $52 million, $28.5 million guaranteed
Defensive end Zach Allen, three-year, $45.7 million, $32.5 million guaranteed
Linebacker Alex Singleton, three-year, $18 million, $9 million guaranteed
Quarterback Jarrett Stidham, two-year, $10 million, $5 million guaranteed
Tight end Chris Manhertz, two-year, $6 million, $3.34 million guaranteed.
Threads defined Sean Payton's tenure in New Orleans. He was known for guiding prolific attacks. This did not happen by accident.
The coach has a history of investing heavily in the offensive line. The Broncos opened free agency on Monday by agreeing in principle with Powers and the 49ers' McGlinchey.
Deals cannot become official until Wednesday at 2 p.m., but Powers and McGlinchey represent the first steps toward overhauling an embattled offensive line that allowed a league-worst 63 sacks last season.
Right tackle has a been problem for the Broncos since Super Bowl 50. McGlinchey, 28, will be the team's eighth different starter in eight consecutive opening games. This move is designed to bring stability when looking at the contract. McGlinchey experienced an up-and-down career in San Francisco as a top-10 pick. He is considered a terrific run blocker at 6-foot-8, 310 pounds, but needs to improve in pass protection. He has battled through injuries without missing much time, starting 69 games, losing eight games in 2021 with a torn quadriceps.
The Broncos have featured a new starter every opening day since Super Bowl 50: Donald Stephenson, Menelik Watson, Jared Veldheer, Elijah Wilkinson, Demar Dotson, Bobby Massie and Cam Fleming. McGlinchey, if he plays as projected, will stop the carousel at right tackle.
"I like the moves. It solves the right tackle position and gives you more a physical body inside," said former Broncos Pro Bowler and Denversports.com morning host Mark Schlereth.
According to a source, Powers will receive a $13 million signing bonus with a $2 million salary this season. The former Oklahoma standout is only 26, and took big strides last year with Baltimore after arriving in training camp on the roster bubble. Despite playing with three different quarterbacks, Powers improved his pass blocking dramatically. According to Pro Football Focus, Powers did not allow a sack last season. His signing all but signals the departure of four-year Broncos starter Dalton Risner. Risner's exit has been anticipated since general manager George Paton did not talk about bringing him back at the combine.
Risner is expected to receive a similar contract to Powers as a free agent.
Powers has played in 46 games over the last three seasons, making 37 starts. He started all 17 games last season.
Offense was the focus in the early minutes of free agency. Denver moved quickly to find Russell Wilson's backup, signing former Raiders starter Stidham. Stidham, who will have $2 million base salary in 2023 and $1 million guaranteed in 2024, replaced Derek Carr with Las Vegas last season, playing in five games and going 0-2 as a starter with four touchdowns and three interceptions. Stidham, 26, is a former fourth-round draft choice of the New England Patriots. He grew up in Texas and has known new Broncos quarterbacks coach Davis Webb for years.
Monday afternoon, the Broncos added another offensive piece, agreeing to a deal with Jaguars blocking tight end Manhertz. Manhertz, who turns 31 in April, has a strong reputation as a run-blocking force. He played briefly for Payton for three games in 2016 and spent time on New Orleans' practice squad in 2015. Listed at 6-foot-6, 255 pounds, Manhertz has 24 receptions in 104 career games.
The Broncos showed urgency of a team tired of six straight losing seasons and zero playoff berths since Super Bowl 50. They agreed after 5 p.m. with linebacker Singleton. The popular linebacker returns on a three-year deal. He made $1.1 million last season, but earned a huge raise by leading the Broncos with 163 tackles last season, despite only starting 12 games. Singleton told Denver7 repeatedly that he hoped to return to the Broncos and was optimistic after general manager George Paton called him a priority at the combine, coining him a "baller."
"LFG!!!! Back right where I belong!!!!" tweeted Singleton.
After a quick exhale, the Broncos continued their facelift, agreeing on a three-year deal with defensive end Allen. Allen produced a career-high 5.5 sacks last season while playing for new Broncos defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. Joseph has long had high praise for Allen, calling him a "good person, a great player and a hard worker with super intelligence." Allen learned from future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt as his career took off over the past two seasons with 34 quarterback hits and 9.5 sacks.
Allen's signing signaled the end of Dre'Mont Jones' time in Denver. The Broncos were interested in his return, but faced stiff competition. Jones told Denver7 on Monday night that he was signing a big deal with the Seahawks. He agreed to a three-year, $51.5 million deal with $35 million paid out over the first two years.
When looking at the Broncos activity, this is where money matters. The Broncos new Walton-Penner ownership group stepped up on the first day, guaranteeing in excess of $128 million.
The Broncos began free agency with roughly $33 million in salary cap space. They could create more room as they are taking calls on receivers Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. They are not motivated to trade them, but will listen as they continue to look to revamp offense and allocate money differently.
Broncos tight end Andrew Beck and running back Mike Boone are expected to sign with the Houston Texans. Beck was a valuable special teams member, and Boone never gained traction because of injuries. ... The Broncos will not tender a contract to restricted rights free agents, QB Brett Rypien, CB Essang Bassey and safety P.J. Locke. ... The Broncos tendered contracts to exclusive rights free agents, linebacker Jonas Griffth, punter Corliss Waitman and offensive lineman Quinn Bailey.