After six long years the Denver Broncos found their next future Hall of Fame quarterback. Russell Wilson immediately opens the Super Bowl window, but questions remain across the roster. What George Paton and the front office do to address those holes will begin to answer how far this Broncos’ team can go in Nathaniel Hackett’s first year as head coach.
- The Broncos already acquired Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for the ninth overall pick, the 40th overall pick, the 151st overall pick, a 2023 first, a 2023 second, Drew Lock, Noah Fant, and Shelby Harris. I’m going to assume the forthcoming extension does not drive up Wilson’s current $24 million cap hit, so Paton is working with at least $23,539,246 in cap space, which would rank 12th in the NFL by Over the Cap projections.
- Punter Sam Martin is released to create $2.25 million in additional cap space. The Broncos incur a $483,334 dead cap fit for the move.
- Calvin Anderson returns on Right of First Refusal RFA tender, which counts for $2.433 million against the cap in 2022.
- Bobby Massie signs a one year contract worth $2.25 million with one million guaranteed.
- Jonas Griffith and Seth Williams are retained as exclusive rights free agents, which means they’re playing on one-year contracts at the league minimum.
- Edge rusher Chandler Jones signs a four-year contract worth $67 million, with 48 million in total guarantees.
Once again, please keep in mind I’m working under the assumption a Wilson extension does not cause the Broncos’ current cap space to dry up. If my math is correct strictly following the average per year on the aforementioned contracts above would leave the Broncos with less than $4 million in cap space, which would create an issue with the rookie reserve. However, in this scenario Jones’ contract is structured so that the bulk of the cap hits come in 2023, 2024, and 2025.
I used The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine for the following draft scenario.
64. Travis Jones - DL - Connecticut
The sell: A 325 lb. war daddy who can eat gaps.
The rationale: Long before the Wilson trade it looked like the Broncos would need to improve their defensive line rotation. Now that Shelby Harris is a Seahawk there’s only three lineman on the roster who have played more than 14 NFL snaps. Jones gives the Broncos is a sneaky athletic nose tackle who can hold the point of attack. He should quickly carve out a role as a plus run defender,
Travis Jones also has a little wiggle for a big boi https://t.co/TUmGkkbIsz pic.twitter.com/qNpB3mnckL— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) February 4, 2022
75. Chad Muma - LB - Wyoming
The sell: An instinctive and athletic long term partner for Baron Browning.
The rationale: There are significant questions about the Broncos’ linebacker corps. Baron Browning missed a significant stretch of his rookie season to injury, Jonas Griffith is pretty callow as a defensive player, and Justin Strnad was benched on Halloween, so it makes sense to acquire depth if nothing else. Muma has the range, instincts, and coverage chops to develop into a starter in time. In the short term he should also give Dwayne Stukes a core four special teamer.
Wyoming LB Chad Muma puts on a weekly tackling clinic out in the Mountain West...— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) October 27, 2021
Good size/speed combo. Always staying square to the LOS while he sorts through the trash... pic.twitter.com/dOa2Vfoyum
96. Rasheed Walker - OT - Penn State
The sell: A toolsy prospect who could become an impact starter if he hones his technique.
The rationale: Bobby Massie and Calvin Anderson give the Broncos a year to develop a long term answer at right tackle and Walker has the kind of body control, length, and power to do just that. He stands 6’6 and weighed in at the Combine at 325 lbs. and displays the reactive athleticism to become a reliable pass protector in the NFL.
Tyler Smith & Rasheed Walker https://t.co/2UzgpyRoXl— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) March 2, 2022
113. Alec Pierce - WR - Cincinnati
The sell: A size/speed prospect who excels at high pointing the ball downfield.
The rationale: Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, and Jerry Jeudy give Wilson one of the best receiving trios in the NFL. After that there’s some questions, as K.J. Hamler’s landed on Injured Reserve in each of his first two seasons in the league. Pierce is 6’3 with 4.4 speed and displays the ability to win jump balls with his soft hands and body control. A better run blocker than given credit for and an improving route runner, Pierce has the upside to develop into an inside/outside threat who can be a mismatch in the redzone. He provides the Broncos have promising depth in the receiving corps. in 2022 and a potential starter down the road.
Alec Pierce is a bigger receiver and the ability to move laterally well like he does here is going to be a huge asset. He redirects his momentum so smoothly to the inside and creates a large throwing lane. pic.twitter.com/ECfTjnfBKH— Ben Glassmire (@BenGlassmireNFL) February 2, 2022
114. Nick Cross - S - Maryland
The sell: A developmental starter with the range and physicality to become an enforcer.
The rationale: Justin Simmons is one of the best safeties in the NFL, but there’s questions to answer with Kareem Jackson now a former Bronco. Caden Sterns showed promise during his rookie season and P.J. Locke had a strong preseason, but neither is proven as a starting safety. Cross is a dynamic linear athlete with the long speed, explosiveness, and temperament to punish receivers for catching the ball in his vicinity. He’s an intriguing scheme fit if the Broncos intend to continue utilizing two high coverages and also brings the versatility to contribute as a slot or dimebacker. Should also factor into special teams.
Yes. Give me more of this. The Ohio State TEs couldn't get off him in man and Nick Cross is physical with the big boys and has no problems running with them. pic.twitter.com/kTBuPhFnys— Matt Alkire (@mattalkire) February 23, 2022
144. Cam Jurgens - iOL - Nebraska
The sell: The day three Tyler Linderbaum.
The rationale: From afar, the interior of the Broncos line looks like a strength after Paton and predecessor John Elway invested significant resources into it, but dig into the tape and cracks begin to appear. Dalton Risner’s rookie contract expires after the 2022 season and Graham Glasgow took a pay cut to remain in orange and blue, while Lloyd Cushenberry’s play strength casts doubt about his long term ceiling, and Netane Muti’s length causes some matchup issues. Jurgens is a strong fit in the zone/duo run game Nathaniel Hackett plans to implement with the Broncos because of the he thrives on the second and third level. He has the athleticism, temperament, and play strength to potentially develop into a starter in time.
My favorite so far are Dohnovan West & Cam Jurgens https://t.co/oiDEE9YKeP— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) March 2, 2022
247. Amare Barno - ED - Virginia Tech
The sell: A true freak athlete who has the traits to outplay this draft spot.
The rationale: With Bradley Chubb and Malik Reed free agents in 2023 it makes sense to tap into this loaded edge class, but needs across the rest of the roster, the Jones signing, and limited draft capital following the Wilson trade made it hard to justify an early pick at the position. Barno joined the Hokies in 2019 after starting his collegiate career at Butler Community College and transitioned to edge rusher in 2020. He’s a 6’4 246 lb. 4.36 athlete who is comfortable in space with good lateral quickness and ankle flexion, though he’s not yet the sum of his parts.
Amare Barno is a DE prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored an unofficial 9.72 RAS at the Combine out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 40 out of 1389 DE from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/Z0fBEdiVlR #RAS via @Mathbomb pic.twitter.com/CS4Ja43rpv— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 6, 2022