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Free Agent Profile: Kelechi Osemele

Kelechi Osemele could get his career back on track in Denver under Mike Munchak.

NFL: SEP 22 Jets at Patriots Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kelechi Osemele’s career has taken a downturn the last two years as he went from being one of the best guards in the NFL in 2016 and 2017, to battling injuries in 2018, along with turnover on the Raiders coaching staff on the offensive line.

Osemele was then traded last offseason to the New York Jets, which seemed like a good fit at the time with a young quarterback in Sam Darnold and Le’veon Bell in the fold. However, “KO” was hurt after three games, and then the Jets descended to being Jets.

Osemele and several doctors were convinced he needed surgery on his hurt shoulder, and the Jets refused to allow it.

Fortunately, Osemele was released by the Jets, who had a terrible track record last year with several player grievances and are still in a contract dispute with an old Denver friend, Rick Dennison (they’re trying not to pay him, essentially).

Once released, he was able to get the surgery he needed, which sounds like it went well. That was back in October, and I haven’t seen any additional updates on Osemele’s health since then, but it seems as though he’ll be set to sign in free agency and play this upcoming season.

What kind of contract could he get

This is a tough one to estimate as it will depend so much on the medical evaluation. Osemele signed a massive contract when he came to the Raiders in 2016 that put him at the top of the guard market with cap hits of $13.2M, $13.5M, and $10.5M in the last three years.

I don’t think he’ll get quite that much based on the health issues, and the fact that he will be 31 years old when the season starts, so he could potentially be a bargain for someone on a one-year deal to prove he’s healthy and can regain his previous form.

Why the Broncos should sign him

He fits well with the power/gap runs that Denver had success with last year. With Munchak still in place and looking at Shurmur’s scheme over the last few years, I don’t think a lot will change with Denver’s run game, and if anything will shift more towards gap concepts, so I think Osemele is a great fit in that regard.

When he is healthy, he is still one of the best guards in football. He gave Denver such fits over the last few years with the Raiders, and was a big reason the Raiders offensive line was so dominant for that two year stretch.

Why the Broncos shouldn’t sign him

Health is the biggest concern. The last thing Denver needs is another offensive lineman who can’t stay on the field.

Additionally, Osemele has played left guard most of his career, so either he would have to shift over, or Risner would need to shift to right guard. Not a huge deal, as Osemele actually started his whole rookie season with the Ravens at right tackle, so he’s played on the right side before.

Final word

Osemele is one of my top sleeper free agents, especially for Denver and under Mike Munchak. I think if the medicals check out, the Broncos should be all over trying to sign KO. He could be the steal of the offseason in the second wave of free agency.


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