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2019 Broncos roster review: Defensive end Derek Wolfe

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The heart and soul of the defensive line is ready to help get the defense back to dominant.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Wolfe is entering his eighth year in the NFL and same number with the Broncos as he plays on the final year of his current contract.

The always outspoken defensive lineman is looking forward to a defense under new head coach Vic Fangio and continuing the chemistry he has built with many of his fellow defenders over several years.

“Taking guys like me and Von — how many guys in the league have been working for eight years, working right beside each other for eight years?” Wolfe said during OTAs earlier this summer. “The kind of chemistry that him and I have, they could just mix and match so many different things because a lot of the times we just use hand signals and just looks. He looks at me a certain way and I know he’s like, Hey, go. I’m like, Alright, I’m going to hit this B-gap. There’s no way for an offensive lineman to be preparing for that. Then when we have all this other extra stuff that we have it’s going to really switch things up.”

Derek Wolfe Profile

Height: 6-foot-5 | Weight: 285 pounds | Age: 29

College: Cincinnati | Experience: 8th Season

The Broncos signed Wolfe to a team-friendly deal in 2016 and a few weeks later he helped the team win Super Bowl 50. Wolfe continued to reward Denver with a career-high 51 tackles in the 2016 season and showed encouraging signs last year with 16 games started after working his way back from a neck injury that landed him on injured reserve in 2017.

With Vic Fangio in the building, Wolfe is ready to howl.

The good

Denver landed a hard worker and a grinder in Wolfe in 2012 and haven’t let him go since. Wolfe is a new man this year and is playing for someone else now with the family addition of new baby daughter Roxanna on July 6.

Wolfe has spent his time in the offseason boxing and staying in shape while maintaining the unbreakable relationship he’s formed with Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller. Wolfe was an attendee at Miller’s pass rush summit in Las Vegas this summer. Wolfe is the engine that makes Miller’s Ferrari purr, often gobbling up blockers and assignments so the big dogs on the outside, Miller and Bradley Chubb, can eat.

The fact that Wolfe is in a contract year can be considered part of “the good” because he’s healthy and motivated. There’s no shortage of reasons to be inspired this season for the defensive end out of Libson, Ohio, and many believe he’s set to have his best statistical season in the last three years because of it.

With Miller and Chubb on the outside, and Fangio’s new system opening new doors for the pass rush, Wolfe is due to see a boost in hurries, pressures and deflections even if the sacks become hard to come by. Expectations for Wolfe this year are similar to the numbers he put up in 2018, with a chance to shine brighter if his body holds up.

The bad

Injury has been a word synonymous with Wolfe’s time in Denver, and neck issues have sapped Wolfe of some of his best years. An eerie feeling has crept in at Dove Valley concerning the old Super Bowl 50 defense being deconstructed and a new defense being put in place that Fangio’s staff trusts.

Wolfe will need to fight off the injury stigma as he turns 30 and attempts to prove once again that he is one of Denver’s most valuable defensive assets.

Quotable

Wolfe is known for some good quotes at the podium, always saying what he thinks. With the birth of his first child this summer, Wolfe had a more reflective tone:

“It’s just a whole different motivation for me. I’ve lived my entire life with like this chip on my shoulder. Now that I’ve got a baby coming, I don’t really have that chip anymore. Now it’s a whole different motivation. I’m not playing of myself anymore. It’s like elevating my game to another level that I didn’t know I had. I’m pretty excited about it.”

Derek Wolfe mic’d up

Derek Wolfe’s roster status with the Broncos

Wolfe’s roster status is a sure thing. He’s fully healthy by all reports and motivated as ever. With depth likely an issue along Denver’s defensive line, the Broncos will need Wolfe’s veteran presence to help the young studs along as training camp hits the dog days and the regular season begins.

Next year is no guarantee, however. A productive year in Fangio’s system could land Wolfe a sizable deal in free agency; it just may not be Denver that inks him to it after 2019 comes to a close.

Poll

Will Derek Wolfe get more or less than 5 sacks in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 68%
    More than 5
    (336 votes)
  • 31%
    Less than 5
    (156 votes)
492 votes total Vote Now