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Who are the Broncos’ trade bait?

Who could George Paton trade for draft picks?

One of the less heralded parts of George Paton’s job is to keep an eye on the future of the Denver Broncos as he goes about making moves to build a championship caliber roster in the near term. The second year general manager is responsible for building a team that can win from now on, and admitted to the press that he’s “always thinking ahead.” So it’s hard to imagine Paton has not thought about the state of his war chest of draft picks following the Russell Wilson trade.

Following the historic deal that sent eight players and picks to the Seattle Seahawks to acquire Wilson, the Broncos find their war chest a little light. They have nine selections in the upcoming draft, but not a single pick before the No. 64. Meanwhile, they don’t pick until the third round in 2023 and have only five picks overall.

Since the early days of his tenure, Paton has repeatedly said he wants at least 10 selections in a draft. Because Denver was so active in free agency they aren’t in line to earn compensatory picks next year, which means there’s only two ways Paton can acquire more picks:

  1. The Broncos could trade down in the 2022 draft to acquire more capital.
  2. The Broncos could trade players for draft picks.

2022 is Paton’s first year out from under the oversight of John Elway and marks the beginning of a new era. With that comes a new coaching staff, and that means a new vision for the franchise where some vets may not be good matches for the new regime. With that in mind, I took a look at players the Broncos could potentially move as part of a draft day trade. Keep in mind some are more likely than others and I’m not necessarily rooting for any of them. All contract numbers per Over the Cap.

Bradley Chubb

The fifth pick of the 2018 draft, Chubb has developed into a Pro Bowl caliber player when he’s healthy. He’s also at the end of his rookie contract and the Broncos will need to decide if he’s worth extending. Chubb is set to play on a fifth year option and trading him would create $12,716,000 in cap space. The big question is what Paton could get in return. Chubb is coming off the worst season of his career and hasn’t made it through a campaign unscathed since his rookie year. I suspect he wears orange and blue in ‘22.

Mike Purcell

A former Fangio favorite who could be on the outs with D.J. Jones now on the roster, moving Purcell could create just under $2.8 million in cap space, though Denver eats $1.548 million in a dead cap hit. Like Chubb, Purcell’s been waylaid by injuries the last two seasons. Unlike Chubb, the 31-year-old nose tackle has never been a Pro Bowl player and signed with the Broncos after a stint with the Salt Lake Stallions of the short-lived AAF. I don’t believe a trade would net Denver much, if anything in return and it’s more likely Purcell is a cap casualty. Cutting him after June first creates $3,573,529 in cap space.

Dalton Risner

The Wiggins, Colorado graduate has been a fan favorite long before he joined the Broncos and it would be unpopular to trade him. Risner has started 47 of the Broncos’ 49 games since John Elway made him Denver’s first second round pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. During both of his first two seasons in the league Vic Fangio said he considered him a Pro Bowl caliber player, but the 26-year-old is yet to make an All Star roster. Currently penciled in as the starting left guard, Risner finds himself in a crowded offensive line room with a coaching staff that wants to move towards a zone/duo run game. He’s entering the last year of his rookie contract and there’s some doubt about his long-term future with the franchise, which makes him a potential trade candidate. Moving him would create $2.79 million in cap space and the Broncos would eat $803,597 in a dead cap hit.

Malik Reed

Reed landed in Denver as an undrafted free agent out of Nevada in 2019 and quickly earned the nickname “Dreamkiller” from former Bronco Von Miller. Due to injuries and the Miller trade, Reed’s started 34 of the 45 career games he’s played in and notched 15 sacks over that time. Standing 6’2” and weighing in at 235 lbs. means there’s clear physical limitations to Reed’s game, but he can contribute as a secondary rusher on stunts and is comfortable dropping into space. With Denver’s crowded edge room and a deep draft class at his position, Reed could become an odd man out in a rotation if Paton spends a pick on a pass rusher. An obvious trade candidate, he’s set to play on an one-year RFA tender in 2022 and moving him would create $2.433 million in cap space.

Netane Muti

As recently as this time last year Muti looked like a future starter, now he finds himself in a similar situation to Risner. He was drafted by the previous regime for an offense that featured gap scheme more than the Broncos will utilize under Nathaniel Hackett. Paton’s interest in interior offensive linemen such as Cole Strange, Cam Jurgens, and Dylan Parham; the additions of Ben Braden, Tom Compton, and Billy Turner; along with incumbents such as Graham Glasgow and Quinn Meinerz creates a numbers game that doesn’t favor the 2020 sixth round pick. Trading him would create $843,552 in cap space and Denver would be on the hook for a $102,896 dead cap hit.

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OT Tyler Smith

OT Abraham Lucas

OT Matt Waletzko

OT Braxton Jones

iOL Dylan Parham

iOL Cole Strange

iOL Cam Jurgens

OL Thayer Munford

CB Cordale Flott

DB Nick Grant

DB Martin Emerson

DB Ja’Quan McMillan

DB DaRon Bland

LB/S Tariq Carpenter

RB Isaih Pacheco

RB Shermari Jones

RB James Cook

RB Zamir White

TE Cole Turner

FB/TE Chigoziem Okonkwo

QB/WR D’Eriq King

QB/WR Jared Benhardt

WR Tyquan Thornton

ED Isaiah Thomas

ED DeAngelo Malone

ED Nik Bonitto