As the lockout ends and the wildest week of player movement begins, there are ample reasons why the Broncos should part ways with Brian Dawkins.
His salary, the abundance of young safeties (six with two seasons or less of previous experience, including two second-round picks in Darcel McBath and rookie Rahim Moore), his age (no NFL safety has ever enjoyed an elite season in his 16th year) and a tight salary-cap situation seemingly add up to no room for the fiery leader.
But that would be a mistake.
Dawkins has expressed a willingness to take a pay cut; if he remains amenable, this is the Broncos’ best option, because his experience and guidance is necessary, if not vital for the young defense’s development. One year of Dawkins, even if only used on running downs, could provide a decade’s worth of impact upon Moore, fourth-round pick Quinton Carter, McBath, David Bruton and Kyle McCarthy.
Further, Dawkins’ impact on Von Miller could be immeasurable. It’s not a matter of “if,” but “when” the captain’s C adorns Miller’s jersey. Being around Dawkins can only help him reach his potential as a leader.
If you needed any further evidence of Dawkins’ intangible contributions, look merely at his organization of offseason workouts for himself and his teammates. If the Broncos’ defense appears more fluid and organized than those of other teams, Dawkins will deserve the lion’s share of the credit.
As former Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist tweeted on July 21, “Leadership has no price.” This is especially true with a team just beginning to determine its leaders for the future — perhaps its most crucial task as the rebuilding project begins.
You don’t start down the long road to respectability by junking the best parts of your engine — even if that one isn’t likely to see the end of that journey.