With Chris Harris Jr. now comfortably in the fold, and the Broncos’ current cap space floating just north of $6 million, it’s unlikely there’s another significant addition to the 2019 roster.
That means it’s time to take a very early look at who could be playing his final season in Denver, and who John Elway and the front office should consider extending.
The Big Fish
As of now both look likely to sign for market-setting deals in 2020. Harris and the Broncos have already tabled extension talks, and there’s been speculation he could command as much as $15 million a year on the open market. Jason Fitzgerald at OvertheCap doesn’t think that will happen, but it only takes one team to prove him wrong.
Regarding Shelby Harris, I’ve been calling for the Broncos to extend him for a long time now. He’s quietly one of the best interior defensive lineman in football and will all but certainly thrive in Fangio’s new defense. Barring injury, he’s going to easily sign for more than $10 million a year.
If I had to bet, I’d tell you Wolfe has a much better chance at returning to the 2020 Broncos than Sanders does. Part of that belief is rooted in the fact that Wolfe is one of three veteran linemen approaching the market after this season. He also looks harder to replace. He’s quietly been one of the better 5/4i techniques in football when healthy. The 29-year-old has gotten a lot of love from Von Miller for his role in freeing up Denver’s future Hall-of-Famer by occupying blockers.
E, on the other hand, is coming off a torn Achilles at 32. While all reports suggest he’s looking great in his return attempt so far, expectations should stay reasonable. The 10-year pro has been vocal about his desire to remain in Denver past this season, but it remains to be seen if Elway feels the same way. A lot could depend on how Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton develop in Rich Scangarello’s offense.
Any and all of these members of the 2016 draft class could wind up having a career year under Vic Fangio. Justin Simmons has flashed Pro Bowl potential for a couple of seasons now and should look better with more talent around him in the secondary. Will Parks is the No. 1 name on my (growing) list for a deeper film study a little later this summer. He had a sneaky-good 2018 season by PFF metrics and has constantly popped up on tape as I’ve been finishing the Most Valuable Broncos series. Gotsis looks a lot like his running mate in the starting lineup, Derek Wolfe. He isn’t quite the pass rusher the older lineman is, but Gotsis does a solid job impacting passing lanes and owning his gap. McGovern takes over as the starting center after filling in last year and could make a big jump forward with more consistency.
Valuable Role Players
None of these names look likely to break the bank in 2020. Kreiter and Jano play positions where their future cap value won’t come close to guys higher on this list, even if they prove themselves the best in the NFL. The Rams’ Jake McQuaide averages a $1.175 million a year on the richest long snapper deal in football, and while the 49ers’ Kyle Juszcyzk makes $5.25 million, it’s a complete outlier.
The other three names are comfortably behind other names on the depth chart. Barring injury, none of them look like they’ll have the opportunity to earn a huge contract. Stranger things have happened though, and Elijah Wilkinson is probably the first off the bench if an injury strikes four of the five offensive linemen.
This tier is made up of Broncos who look like they’ll have to fight tooth and nail to make the 2019 roster. As such, it’s impossible to predict who Denver should prioritize as of now. It wouldn’t surprise me if a couple of them emerge as key players as Billy Turner did coming out of a similar situation last year. As of now I’m high on both Jeff Holland and Dymonte Thomas, but we’ll have to see how all of these players fit the new schemes.
Your Broncos Links
Von Miller hosted his third annual Pass Rush Summit at UNLV on Saturday, and plenty of the NFL’s best rushers were on hand to share their tricks of the trade.
Look past the 2019 Denver Broncos at your own risk. The defense has had all the talent it needs and now it finally has the scheme to match.
The Denver Broncos have had themselves a good offseason. Will it translate into a winning season in 2019?
Brett’s uncle, Mark Rypien, joined 1st & 10 @ 10 to answer that question and if Steve Atwater ever clocked him.
Get a defensive MVP-caliber season from Chris Harris Jr. but watch him leave in free agency, or see Harris play at a good-but-not-great level but then re-sign him after the year?
All 9 of Bradley Chubb's sacks through 11 weeks. I put them in order of most impressive to least. Started with his 1v1 wins, ended with his 2 1/2 sacks. Primarily winning with inside moves and power: pic.twitter.com/iV4wgxTW7p— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) November 20, 2018
Could the undrafted rookie crack the 53-man roster as the teams swing tackle?
Could “the Juggerneck” threaten Andy Janovich for a roster spot with the Denver Broncos in 2019?
Could journeyman cornerback, De’Vante Bausby, make a name for himself with the Denver Broncos?
9. Another one that I’m personally excited to ask around about after this week is Broncos rookie tight end Noah Fant. Rich Scangarello’s offense is the same one that featured Jordan Reed in Washington, and helped George Kittle transition quickly into the NFL more recently—and both those guys are athletic types who, like Fant, can play all over the formation.
Will Joe Flacco set the tone?
The mandatory minicamp will close out the Broncos’ offseason work, and thus far, Flacco has looked like the steady veteran starter the Broncos had hoped for when they traded for him this offseason. But Flacco is going to hear chatter about rookie Drew Lock, the Broncos’ offensive failings over the past three seasons and the number of birthdays he has had. Flacco, 34, has to give this team a little “I got this” swagger and run an offense that can attack all parts of the field. If he is locked in, Flacco can set the tone and give the Broncos momentum when they report for training camp in mid-July. -- Jeff Legwold
Vic Fangio isn’t playing favorites. The new Broncos coach has challenged everyone from rookie Noah Fant to Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller.
Quarterback Joe, Holdout Harris, Trader John and one and only “Greek” head the list.
Offensive Linemen already do this.
5) Los Angeles Chargers Starting five: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Travis Benjamin, Hunter Henry, Virgil Green. I had to include the Chargers on this list after watching Williams emerge as a difference maker to complement Allen on the perimeter. Considering Allen has played a James Harden-like role as the Bolts’ go-to guy, the team needed a second scorer to loosen the coverage in the back end. Luckily for L.A., Williams emerged last season as a big-bodied pass catcher with a knack for putting the ball in the paint. With 10 touchdowns in his second season, No. 81 will have an opportunity to play an ever bigger role following the offseason departure of Tyrell Williams. Benjamin and Henry are crafty role players. Although touches are limited for the pass catchers at the bottom of the totem pole, the Chargers’ complementary options provide just enough balance to keep opponents from loading up to stop Allen on the perimeter. NBA comparison: Houston Rockets.
DT/DE/LB:— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) June 2, 2019
Players with double digit sacks:
57% with elite #RAS
82% above average
Pro bowl DE:
60% elite #RAS
84% above avg
Pro bowl DT:
51% elite #RAS
78% above avg
Pro bowl LB:
49% elite #RAS
82% above avg https://t.co/ixlTN9FABR
According to Silver, LaFleur was playing a game on a Lambeau hoops court when he suffered the injury. LaFleur will coach from a cart during offseason workouts on Friday and again when the team meets in June. He is expected to have surgery on Sunday, per Silver.
“I also expect to be a starter in this league again, and I know it’s not going to be here in L.A. So I’m trying to just better myself,” Bortles said. “And if I get an opportunity to play, great. If not, then I spent a year learning from McVay, and being around a really good organization.”
Police pulled Wilkerson over at about 3:40 a.m. for running a stop sign, according to the report. Officers said they suspected Wilkerson was drunk and he told them he had a shot and two beers. A breathalyzer recorded his blood alcohol content at 0.09, which is just above the legal limit