This shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Once teams start shopping and/or listening to offers on a veteran player at this time of the year they are often cut if they are not traded. A good example of this is former Cleveland Browns corner and now Pittsburgh Steelers corner Joe Haden. So it appears that Ward’s time with the Broncos is nearing its end.
Ideally, the Broncos would like to deal Ward and get a draft pick and/or a player in return, but if no one bites, Ward will become a free agent and likely sign rather quickly.
If/when this happens, it likely will not go over well in the Broncos locker room. T.J. Ward is one of the vocal and emotional leaders of the defense, so losing his presence could cause some trouble int he locker room. Players like Brandon Marshall and even Von Miller spoke out against this move. Von said it had to be “fake news”.
"I thought it was fake news. It's serious like that? It can't be that serious. T.J. has been a great player for us. ... You always get blindsided by stuff. But T.J.'s been great for us. I don't see any reason to -- you know, Mr. Elway and the guys upstairs, they push this organization in a great direction and they're going to continue to make championship moves for us. But it's gotta be fake news."
It will be interesting to see how these veteran players react when this happens. It will really test new Head Coach Vance Joseph’s leadership skills. It will either start the season off with some controversy or prove that Joseph is indeed a leader of men.
The big winner in this whole deal will be second-year safety, Justin Simmons. He will likely move into the starting role at free safety while Darian Stewart will shift over to strong safety to replace Ward’s role on defense. Simmons is highly athletic with great range and potentially elite ball-hawking skills. I am very high on his potential and this potential opportunity for Simmons could pay dividends for the Broncos going forward.
It would also secure a roster spot for impressive looking undrafted rookie Jamal Carter. He has had a strong summer and played himself on to the 53-man roster and potentially is the reason behind Ward becoming expendable. The Broncos also have second-year safety Will Parks back there as well. So the Broncos have plenty of youthful depth at the position to take over if/when Ward is traded or cut.
It will suck to lose Ward because he has been a big part of the Broncos defense during their dominance recently, but it’s also exciting to see these youngsters get an opportunity. I am a big believer in Justin Simmons and I think he will upgrade the Broncos defense going forward.