During the 2023 offseason, the Denver Broncos have seriously beefed up their pass-rushing unit.
The Broncos added Frank Clark, will see Randy Gregory return from an injury, and could see further emergence of youngsters like Jonathon Cooper and Nik Bonitto.
But where does Aaron Patrick sit in all of this?
The 26-year-old played his football at Eastern Kentucky, and went undrafted in the 2020 NFL Draft. While at Eastern Kentucky, Patrick finished his career with 27.5 sacks, the second most in school history.
Patrick signed to the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad in December 2020, and signed a reserves/futures contract with them in early January. Patrick would end up waived and re-signed to the Jaguars’ practice squad again, but the Broncos came swooping in and signed him to their active roster.
Patrick would appear in 12 games for the Broncos in 2021, and had one start. During this time he recorded three solo tackles and five special teams stops.
In week 6 of the 2022 NFL season, Patrick suffered a torn ACL. It was a bit of a freak injury, as Patrick was off the field and his cleat got stuck on some artificial turf hiding cables on the sideline. Patrick would end up filing a lawsuit against the NFL, ESPN, and the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams (the two teams sharing the stadium where the injury occurred.)
Height: 6’4” | Weight: 245 lbs
40-time: 4.53 seconds
Outside Linebacker Aaron Patrick’s 2023 outlook
Patrick’s spot on the roster is anything but guaranteed. But with the sheer amount of injuries the Broncos’ sustained last season, Patrick could find himself as a 3rd string outside linebacker or a special teams staple.
That is if he is healthy and fully recovered from his ACL tear.
ACL tears typically keep players out for at least a year. With Patrick’s injury occurring in mid-October of 2021, he is nearing one year. However, it should be mentioned that Patrick was not listed on the Broncos PUP/NFI list ahead of training camp, so that is a good sign.
If he somehow isn’t ready for the start of the season, the Broncos could stow him away on IR for a few weeks, and then add him back to the active roster as a depth piece. If Patrick struggles to return from injury, the Broncos probably won’t hesitate cutting ties. It really is a toss-up.