A sensational season ended just shy of the ultimate goal for the Denver Broncos. But with Peyton Manning under center, there's every reason to believe the Broncos can be back in the Super Bowl in 2014. But first they have a little work to do in the offseason.
There's not a singular way to build a Super Bowl contender, but every championship team has had its share of shrewd free-agent signings, impressive draft picks and development of in-house talent.
In the case of the Broncos, the foundation was laid through each of those avenues prior to the 2012 offseason, when the most critical transaction came to fruition.
It was at that point the Broncos landed arguably the most sought-after free agent in NFL history by inking Manning to a five-year deal that immediately catapulted the team from a .500 club (albeit one that still won its division) to a Super Bowl contender.
But to examine the Broncos' success and suppose it was the byproduct solely of Manning is shortsighted, of course. The roster around him is perhaps as strong as any he has played on during his majestic NFL career, and the Broncos' ability to ensure that roster stays largely intact will be paramount to how the rest of Manning's career plays out.
With a young nucleus of talent -- something the Broncos have -- comes a list of ascending players looking for pay raises. It also leads to difficult decisions on players either entering contract years or playing under lucrative deals.
As the 2014 offseason begins (yes, it already has), here's a snapshot of three positional needs for the Broncos.