According to the Kansas City Stars Terez A. Paylor, the Denver Broncos are planning to sign offensive tackle Donald Stephenson once free agency opens on Wednesday.
Former #Chiefs OT Donald Stephenson is planning to sign with the Denver Broncos tomorrow, a source tells me.— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) March 9, 2016
Donald Stephenson was a third-round selection for the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2012 NFL Draft. Since then, the 6'6", 312lb offensive lineman has played in 50 career NFL games and has 20 starts under his belt.
Back in 2014, Stephenson was suspended four games by the NFL for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Stephenson was the opening day starter at left tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2015 before suffering an ankle injury. This injury slowed him down, and he eventually lost the job to former first overall pick Eric Fisher.
Stephenson is a big, and athletic offensive lineman who can play either left or right tackle. With the Broncos suffering through multiple injuries at the offensive tackle position last year, it's fitting that their first free agent signing would be an offensive tackle. It's not a splashy signing, but Stephenson will provide depth behind Ryan Clady and Ty Sambrailo. He will also compete for swing tackle duties with Michael Schofield who really struggled last season.
Here is Stephenson's scouting report via NFL.com
Strengths: Stephenson is very quick out of his stance, and this is his one shining quality. Has good footwork and is a lateral mover who can get beat by strength but recovers well to not allow sacks. Good when pulling and working in the open field; has more value as a mover and second-level blocker. He can be nasty when finishing plays and is a reliable protector of the quarterback.
Weaknesses: Stephenson is not very strong despite his size. It seems he is always in a stalemate and forcing himself to rely on his footwork rather than his strength. He is quick off the line but not explosive. He can get blown back by more explosive players in pass blocking.
As I said above, this isn't a flash signing but adds depth to the offensive tackle position. Ryan Harris is likely to leave this offseason, so is Tyler Polumbus. Also, Michael Schofield really struggled at tackle last year, so Stephenson could be viewed as an upgrade and potentially a replacement/
Also, keep in mind that left tackle Ryan Clady has struggled with injuries throughout his career, so having an experienced and versatile backup makes sense.
This was Stephenson's reaction on Twitter once the deal probably became official.
Perfect— Donald Stephenson (@Don59Wayne) March 9, 2016
Welcome to the winning side of the Broncos and Chiefs rivalry, Donald.
According to 9NEWS Denver's Mike Klis, the Broncos are paying Stephenson $5 million dollars per year.
OT Donald Stephenson deal with Broncos in $5 million per range. That's starter money. https://t.co/iWDnjq3HDh via @@9NEWS #9news #9sports— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) March 9, 2016