Nate Irving. Exhale, Nate. The Broncos have tried to pick up a starting middle linebacker. Oh, how they have tried.

But free agent D'Qwell Jackson signed with the Colts and Jon Beason re-signed with the Giants. Then, in the draft, the Broncos were unable to trade up to the middle of the first round to select Alabama's C.J. Mosley.

Denver drafted LSU's Lamin Barrow in the fifth round, but he's a weakside linebacker trying to grow into a middle man and probably will need at least one year on special teams.

And so middle linebacker belongs to Irving. He played well in relief of Von Miller at strongside linebacker last year. Irving needs to win the two-down "Mike" role for the Broncos this year.

Welker has company. Denver's Wes Welker could give out a few more $100 bills and not have to sweat the fridge breaking down. But he might want to put a few Ben Franklins in the savings account, not that that's any fun.

The Broncos signed free-agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to a three-year, $15 million contract and followed that by drafting large-size wideout Cody Latimer, a second-round pick who will get a four-year contract.

Welker received $6 million from the Broncos last year and already has collected $3 million of his fully guaranteed $6 million this year. But he's a smart guy. He has to figure this will be his final season in Denver.