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Broncos should offer contract extensions to some key defensive players before end of season

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The Denver Broncos have the cap space to extend some key players beyond 2019. Here are three players they should begin negotiations with immediately.

Tennessee Titans v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

After the Denver Broncos lost yet another game in the waning seconds, one thing is clear - their defense isn’t the problem. In fact, their defense is the only reason this team has any hope at all.

Given that reality, I say its time for John Elway to do whatever he can to ensure the defense retains continuity into 2020 and beyond. With over $17 million in salary cap right now and projected $70 million plus in 2020, the Broncos should spend rather than sell when it comes to their defense.

I have three players in mind for an extension and they are all starters on that defense. Realistically, they could sign two of these guys before the end of the season given the current cap space, but which two?

Derek Wolfe

Derek Wolfe is coming off his best game in quite a while. He seemed to be all over the place on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. The biggest play was a safety that was never called, which just seems to be how the calls have gone for Denver this year.

At 29 years old, he is still close enough to his prime that offering a 2-3 year extension is not out of the question here. He has great chemistry with Von Miller and while I’ve heard a lot of loud fans bitching about Von’s production, he remains one of the best edge rushers in the NFL and replacing him would be impossible and it’s laughable to even argue that point.

Again, the defensive isn’t the problem. They seem to be getting stronger each week. Despite a rough start to the season for the Denver defense, they have come on so strong over the last 5-6 weeks that they currently rank 5th in DVOA and that is as of before their strong performance against the Colts. They also rank 5th in yards per play, yards per pass attempt and 12th in yards per rush attempt. The latter is still suffering from that Jacksonville Jaguars game.

Keeping this group together should be John Elway’s second highest priority behind finding a true franchise quarterback to lead this team.

Chris Harris Jr.

You can tell frustration for Harris is mounting, but he hasn’t given up on this team. He wants to win and he wants to win with the Broncos. However, he has heard the trade rumors and that has to be a bit distracting. He admitted as much in the post-game interview on Sunday.

“I’m not going to lie to you; it was the hardest week for me,” Harris said. “Hardest week to focus. It was hard to play the game, but I got through it and I thought I played solid today so trying to give our team a chance to win.”

At 30 years old, Harris is still playing at a level where he’d start on any team in the NFL. He may not be at his peak any longer, but he makes this team better regardless. Offering him a respectable extension for the next 2-3 seasons is not something that should be out of the equation.

It would also solidify him as one of the greatest Broncos of all-time. Not that he isn’t already there, but it would be nice to have him retire one day with a vast majority of his career here in Denver.

However, of the three players I’ve mentioned here, Harris is the most likely to get traded by Tuesday’s deadline. Denver’s asking price is steep, but maybe that comes down within the next 24 hours.

Justin Simmons

Out of the three, Justin Simmons might be the most important player to extend long-term. At just 25 years old, he is entering his prime and has been an iron man on the defense leading the league in consecutive snaps on defense. He looks primed to become one of the leaders on that defense in the years to come.

Simmons hasn’t lost faith, but it would seem he thinks the defense might have to win these games after all.

“We’re encouraged,” Simmons said after the game. “I think the biggest thing is we know it’s a team game and they got a pretty good defense on the other side of the ball too. More of a bend don’t break mentality. They play great red zone defense and so we knew the type of battle we were getting ourselves into coming up here. I know we had the one turnover, but it would have helped like I said, I keep saying it every week but putting our offense in great field position. I didn’t think we did that enough times this evening. We’ve just got to find ways as a defense, to just pull a little bit more along and find ways to close it out.”

That secondary, by the way, is stingy. Even without Bryce Callahan and the starting and subsequent benching of Isaac Yiadom, the secondary is suffocating opposing wide receivers.

And Justin Simmons is a big reason why. I’d love to see a long-term extension for him well before the season ends.

Who do you think the Broncos should extend? Hypothetically, if you could have two of these guys signed before the end of the year, who would it be?

Poll

If you could extend only two before season ends?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Wolfe and Harris
    (184 votes)
  • 36%
    Wolfe and Simmons
    (1083 votes)
  • 54%
    Simmons and Harris
    (1645 votes)
  • 3%
    None of them
    (92 votes)
3004 votes total Vote Now