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Free Agent Profile: Will Parks

Another member of the 2016 draft class is set to hit free agency. Does Denver try to keep Parks around for another year?

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Denver has got a lot of snaps out of the 2016 draft class, and 6th rounder Will Parks is a great example of that. While Parks has never played over 60% of snaps in a season, he has been a great role player on this defense over the last few years.

While he struggled his first two seasons (he gave up four touchdowns to running backs and tight ends in 2017), it looked like he had turned the corner in 2018 and would continue to grow with Vic Fangio coming in.

However, it was a bit of an up and down season for Parks as he bounced around the secondary and also lost four games with a hurt hand. The most effective role he eventually settled into in Fangio’s defense, was at the nickel spot.

What kind of contract could he get

Last season, the Bears signed Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix to a one-year $3 million contract after his rookie deal expired. Clinton-Dix was a former first round pick and multi-year starter at safety, but never quite lived up to his draft status.

I could see a one-year $2 million being a possibility to see if Parks can solidify his role as the nickel/dime back in Fangio’s system.

Why the Broncos should sign him

Denver needs all the defensive back depth it can get with Chris Harris potentially leaving, and Justin Simmons as an unrestricted free agent (though I assume there’s no way he’s not back next year). Parks offers a lot of versatility on the backend, with the ability to slide into a starting safety spot in a pinch, although I don’t think you would want him staying there for an extended period of time, based on what we I saw from him this past year.

I think Parks has always thrived in more of that 3rd safety/dime backer role, and he looked good as a nickel last year in the last few games of the season.

Defensive coordinator, Ed Donatell on Parks:

“He’s a very versatile player. He can play three spots for you. He’s knowledgeable and we’ve counted on him a lot. Again, it was tough losing him for a month with his hand, but the guys kind of rallied and worked out. We’re happy to have him back.”

Vic Fangio on Parks’ play at nickel:

“He’s overall giving us good play for the most part and he’s playing with an injured hand where he has to wear a cast. That hinders him somewhat, but overall he’s done a good job.”

“Will is versatile. He can play nickel as you saw him play last week. He can play safety as you’ve seen him do some for us. He can play the dime position, which is very similar to the nickel position. He does like playing football and he’s a good guy to have on your team. I enjoy being around him and I think everybody does.”

Why the Broncos shouldn’t sign him

Parks struggled mightily against the run when filling in for Kareem Jackson at safety, and was a key reason Leonard Fournette busted some really big runs in the Jacksonville game, and will likely be limited to more of a sub package role player in the secondary. Those aren’t typically the kind of players Denver has brought back.

Final word

It’s tough to make a role player a priority in free agency. If there was one exception, I personally think Parks deserves a shot if the price is a reasonably low one-year deal. He is a great team player, plays his heart out, and still has some potential to grow.

However, I think the chances Denver retains him are slim.


Would you bring back Will Parks?

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