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Opinion: Broncos should pick up Garett Bolles’ fifth-year contract option

The Denver Broncos would be wise to pick up the contact option on Garett Bolles even if the fourth-year player doesn’t deserve it.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos have a major decision to make with Garett Bolles next week. The deadline to decide whether or not to exercise his fifth-year contract options comes due on May 4th. Does he deserve a fifth-year option? No. Would the Broncos be wise to give it to him anyway? Absolutely.

There is some debate whether or not Bolles has improved significantly late last season, but he remains the most penalized offensive lineman in football since coming into the league in 2017. The poor technique in pass protection continues to show up in film even late in the season, even if the holding calls were withheld. That issue probably isn’t going to improve given Bolles is rapidly approaching 30 and will soon be on the decline physically.

Broncos President of Football Operations/General Manage John Elway was noncommittal to Bolles after the NFL Draft.

“We have to get better there, there’s no question about it,” Elway said. “That’s a position we have to get better at. As Vic said, it’ll be an open competition at the left tackle with Eli [Wilkinson] and Garett Bolles. We just didn’t feel like we were in a situation to where we could add to that. I think with where we were and what our game plan was, the tackle never fell for us as far as something we thought that there was a player there that could help us at that position. We still feel like we can be very competitive with the tackle situation that we have and the open competition. The best player is going to play.”

Even so, a strategic move for the Broncos would be to secure Bolles through the 2021 season. The fifth-year option will achieve that. They had an outstanding draft last week and have completely transformed the offense over the last three years. The only question marks remain at both tackle positions and those question marks won’t have answers this season and maybe even next season.

The worst thing that could happen is to decline the option and then have John Elway finding himself in a similar situation the Tennessee Titans found themselves in this offseason. The Titans let their starting right tackle Jack Conklin walk in free agency rather than pay him and ended up reaching in the first round for a developmental right tackle in Isaiah Wilson. Their situation was similar to the Broncos situation in 2017 when they had no choice but to take the top tackle on their board in Garett Bolles.

A better strategy would be to secure your starting left tackle - even if he is bottom of the league good - and focus on getting the position sorted out next offseason. According to Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic, Bolles’ fifth-year option of $11.064 million would only be guaranteed by injury. Pick up the option, then find a guy you like in the 2021 NFL Draft that you didn’t have to reach for and commit to year one. Bring that rookie in to develop in 2021 and maybe even compete for Bolles for the starting job, then plan on committing to that new player after Bolles walks after the 2021 season.

It’s a safe strategy and the smart one. What do you think Broncos Country?


Would it be wise for the Broncos to pick up Bolles’ option?

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