A few months spent talking about the Broncos via various social media platforms reveals three truths:
- 1. Tim Tebow has been, and will continue to be, a subject that triggers hair-trigger reactions that often cut to the core of a fan’s socio-political and religious perspective.
- 2. Nine consecutive non-winning seasons for the Raiders has done nothing to temper the vitriol of Denver’s fans for all things silver and black.
- 3. Most fans didn’t like Andre’ Goodman’s performance.
It was nothing personal against Goodman, an intelligent, stand-up sort who didn’t hide from questions about his own play or that of the defense at large since joining the Broncos in 2009. But with Champ Bailey on the other side of the field, Goodman was often targeted, and while he made some big plays — none more so than a pick-six off Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez last November and a grab of a wayward Christian Ponder pass to set up a game-winning field goal at Minnesota 17 days later — seven interceptions over three years just wasn’t enough to offset the big plays he yielded.
Some numbers offered praise for his play; Advanced NFL Stats’ Win-Probability Added metric ranked Goodman 10th among league cornerbacks last season. But Goodman also yielded nine touchdowns during the 2011 regular season — a pretty damning statistic since the Broncos only allowed 13 touchdown catches by wide receivers all season.
Releasing Goodman, who will be 34 this year, saves $3.42 million in 2012 and $3.96 million in 2013, so that will help the Broncos’ long-term cause.
Last month’s signing of ex-Saints cornerback Tracy Porter will be considered by many to be the move that made Goodman expendable, but of equal importance is the emergence of Chris Harris, arguably the Broncos’ best tackling cornerback, as the nickelback last year. Unless the Broncos draft a cornerback early in two weeks, Harris can be expected to handle this workload — which for all intents and purposes makes him a first-teamer, even if he’s not technically listed there on the depth chart.
This also places a burden on third-year cornerbacks Cassius Vaughn and Syd’Quan Thompson, both of whom ended the season on injured reserve. Thompson was poised for an extensive role before tearing his Achilles tendon in the preseason finale at Arizona last year; after his injury, the Broncos signed Jonathan Wilhite to bolster the cornerback corps before eventually turning to Harris as the nickel back.
With Goodman aboard, the issue was the age of Denver’s cornerbacks, with a pair of first-teamers celebrating their 34th birthdays this year. After his release, age remains the question, but at the other extreme, with the Broncos’ cornerback depth flooded with youth.