James Palmer joined the Broncos Country Tonight crew Monday evening just after a short flurry of free agency legal tampering activity had ended for the Broncos.
Broncos ended up signing former Washington cornerback Ronald Darby to a three-year, $30 million deal while also keeping defensive end Shelby Harris for a three-year $27 million contract.
Denver chose not to exercise Kareem Jackson’s team option and also placed an original round tender on the undrafted Phillip Lindsay - making both players likely candidates for another team when free agency officially opens Wednesday.
To Palmer, none of these moves was a surprise.
“Everything today kind of went according to what you thought pretty much would happen in Broncos Country,” Palmer said, noting that new GM George Paton was expected to fill the weakness in the secondary and Vic Fangio had spoken highly of Harris all season.
“Bringing Shelby back was a really smart play, and I was curious how his market was going to go,” Palmer said, “but if you listened to Vic Fangio all season long, he really had an affinity for Shelby and making sure you could get a guy Vic likes and has ability to bat passes like he does, that was better than going to a market that wasn’t all that great.”
Palmer also wasn’t surprised the Broncos chose not to exercise the option for the 32-year-old Jackson, but since Jackson has still been playing at a high level, and the safety market in free agency is “not that thick,” the NFL Network reporter also didn’t know exactly how the Broncos planned to address his absence.
Fangio may get lucky if other teams don’t want to take a chance on the “old” safety, but KJack also may not want to stay on a team still rebuilding rather than contending.
“But now it’s a glaring hole, and with so many missing pieces at corner, locked in at safety with the football IQ that Kareem and Justin [Simmons] both have helps your entire secondary,” Palmer added. “Now you lose that a little bit, and I think filling that hole might be a little bit tougher than a lot of people think, so it will be interesting to see how they do it.”
Palmer also speculated that the Broncos probably aren’t done at corner - both in free agency and/or the draft - and likely they’ll be looking to get a safety in either/both as well.
Although Palmer was on the show before this morning’s news of Broncos picking up Von Miller’s option, the reporter noted today that this was also a likely move.
Von Miller is healthy and recovered from his ankle/foot injury that sidelined him for the season last year per source. In Vic Fangio’s mind he was primed for a monster season before it happened and Denver believes this season is no different. Miller and Chubb rushing together— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) March 16, 2021
But of all the free agency-related news, Paton’s interest in a lot of quarterback scenarios should also be completely expected.
Palmer reminded nervous Drew Lock fans that Paton’s interest last week in North Dakota State’s Trey Lance is very on-brand for the GM. He likes to be thorough and personally watch any prospective quarterbacks.
“You have to know George a little bit. He loves to go watch and evaluate talent. He loves to go watch Pro Days. He loves to watch quarterbacks in person.” Palmer said, adding that Paton will be at all the other top quarterbacks’ Pro Days too.
“George Paton is a guy covering all of his bases,” Palmer added. “Like what happens if all the sudden there’s a run at the draft and Trey Lance is sitting there at nine and you’re wondering, ‘If we would have done a little more work on him would we be more prepared to pull the trigger?’”
To Paton, there is no downside to doing more homework, Palmer says.
“[Paton] wants to see the all these quarterbacks. Because why wouldn’t you?” he said. “Unless you have one of the top players in the league at quarterback on your roster, you should be trying to uncover every stone out there.”
On NFLN today, Palmer said Paton has told him the Broncos will “be in on” every potential scenario at quarterback. While the GM thinks Lock could make a big jump in year three and believes the young quarterback has all the tools, he hasn’t liked the inconsistency.
So Denver will be looking to at least bring in competition, but will absolutely remain in the Deshaun Watson conversation if the Texans’ quarterback becomes available.
Likewise, Paton will also be ready to pull the trigger on Draft Night if a top QB is still there.
“If the right QB falls to them at nine and that’s who they like, they’re picking a quarterback,” Palmer said.
What's the latest with the #broncos and their QB situation? Well ... here you go. My report on @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/53RnNdgC81— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) March 16, 2021