Some players cleaned out their lockers a little more thoroughly than others. You know, just in case a return to Dove Valley doesn't work out. "An unfortunate end to a great season," said Broncos right offensive tackle Orlando Franklin.

He'll be back. A three-year starter, Franklin has one more year left on his contract, at a team-value rate. Zane Beadles isn't so sure. He has been the Broncos' starting left guard for almost four years, but his contract is expiring. There is a good chance the Broncos will bring him back.

Free agency, though, can be as easy to predict as Super Bowls. (How much were the Broncos favored by, again?)

"I've never been in this situation, so I can't tell you exactly how one should handle it," Beadles said. "I know I'd love to stay in Denver and I love this organization."

An hour after players packed up their lockers Tuesday and headed out for a good two, three, four weeks of rest, healing and escaping, Broncos football operations boss John Elway and coach John Fox held their annual season-ending news conference in the team's conference meeting room. Team president Joe Ellis watched from the back.

Because they were busy leading their team to the Super Bowl, Elway and Fox already are behind on their work for 2014. Five weeks behind. There were 20 teams that started working on next season with a couple of days left in the 2013 season.

Elway and Fox have held this news conference all three years they've been in charge. All three years, they had successful regular seasons and went fairly deep into the playoffs, only for the season to end on a loss.

The line of questions tends to deal with the final-game loss. Especially when the loss was a 43-8 embarrassment to the Seattle Seahawks.