Denver, CO. When the Denver Broncos signed “you know who” back in March to lead this franchise to the promised land, it immediately vaulted them into being one of the elite contenders in the AFC. Everyone saw what happened to the Colts last year when #18 wasn’t around. They went from being a 10+ win team to a team that ended up with the #1 pick in the 2012 draft. It proved how important he is, and how valuable he can be for whatever team he is on. The Broncos obviously hit the jackpot in acquiring his services for the next several years, but in order for the team to accomplish their lofty goals, he will need some help along the way. As great as he has been since entering the NFL in 1998, he has just one ring. He is a four-time league MVP, has 399 career TD’s, and well over 50,000 passing yards. So when Denver learned they landed Peyton to be the guy here, they quickly had to add some pieces around him on offense. They had to be fairly cheap pieces too, because as we all know, Peyton didn’t sign in Denver for the league minimum. So John Elway and John Fox went to work, adding tight ends Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme, drafting running back Ronnie Hillman, and bringing in wide receiver Andre Caldwell. But it’s Peyton’s old buddy, 36 year old Brandon Stokley, who could end up being the best addition when it’s all said and done.
Since coming into the league in 1999, Brandon Stokley’s career stats are not overly impressive. He has 339 total receptions for 4,680 yards and 34 TD’s. Not bad by any means, but not amazing either. He has, however, managed to stick around the league for over a decade now, mainly because he has a skill that few others have had. He has been one of the greatest slot receivers the NFL has ever seen. So why would a slot receiver be valuable to any team? Well, one with great hands, who can get open on a critical third down is one reason. Stokley has never been a “burner”, but he has always had the smarts to find a way to get the job done. Back when he was teammates with Manning in Indianapolis in 2004, he had his greatest season by far. Brandon caught 68 balls for 1,077 yards and 10 TD’s. He mastered the slot position and was deadly in the red zone. Alongside Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, it was the only time in NFL history that three receivers from the same team each had over 1,000 yards and at least 10 TD’s in the same season. Stokley developed a rapport with Peyton back then, one that all Broncos fans hope comes back in 2012.
The facts are something that shouldn’t be ignored. Stokley is 36, and has had trouble staying on the field the past couple of years. After leaving Denver in 2009, he made pit stops in Seattle and with the N.Y. Giants, before signing with the Broncos this year. The thought of him mastering the slot again, while Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas attract attention on the outside, could end up being the key for this offense in 2012. Although long in the tooth, Brandon Stokley may have one good run left in him to help Peyton get his second ring.
Denver Sports by J Simp