Denver Broncos nose tackle Mike Purcell will start his seventh year on the NFI list.
Although he hoped to be medically cleared by now, that wasn’t how it panned out. It’s unclear when Purcell will be active for games again. He’s currently listed behind D.J. Jones on the depth chart, per ESPN.
In the meantime, we can enjoy some clips from last year’s week 3 game vs San Francisco, in which he was the second-highest rated Bronco.
Mike Purcell clips vs. San Francisco pic.twitter.com/LZiHGD6NSS— Frankie Abbott (@FrankiesFilm) September 29, 2022
Pro Day 40: 5.18
Though he had a relatively successful career at the University of Wyoming, Purcell has been in the league for some time now — long enough to be focusing on his pro stats instead of mulling over college records.
After signing with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent in 2013, the nose tackle would remain on the practice squad until December of 2014, when he made his NFL game debut with a tackle across two games (neither of them started).
2015 was a year of more opportunity, and slightly more results. In eight games (three of them started), he managed a sack, as well as fifteen tackles — 11 of them solo and one of those a TFL. He would follow this up with 5 games started out of fifteen played by him in 2016, during which he forced a fumble and made 26 tackles (17 solo, one for loss).
Purcell went a solid two years without official field time after being released by San Francisco in 2017 and bouncing around from LA Rams to Carolina to New England to the Kansas City Chiefs (as well as a stint with AAF team the Salt Lake Stallions ) before landing in Denver. By this time it was 2019 and the Broncos put him to work.
2019 saw 13 games (seven started) out of Purcell, in which he recorded 48 tackles (28 solo and eight TFL). He started all six games that he played in 2020 and made a sack, fifteen tackles (ten of them solo, two for loss), and a QB hit.
Moving on to 2021, Purcell was in 13 games, and he started ten of them. He deflected a pass and had 33 tackles (17 solo), a tackle for loss, and two quarterback hits, showing a sure progression from the previous year.
2022 was perhaps his most productive year yet. No. 98 played 17 games (four of which he started) and recorded a forced fumble, 1.5 sacks, 45 tackles (21 solo), a tackle for loss, and FOUR quarterback hits. It was also the year that he and Russell Wilson had their infamous “We’ve got to get a spark somewhere” sideline exchange that was allegedly misinterpreted from a number of angles.
The good, the bad, and the outlook
Despite a rough start and brief exit from the NFL prior to becoming a Bronco, Purcell’s talent seems to be aging like fine wine, and he’s as passionate now (if not more than) as he was a decade ago when he started.
If we were going out of our way to find a problem here, I suppose one could argue the issue of a temper, circling back to his incident with Wilson last year, as well as his penalties. The Broncos had an ugly number of penalties across all their games last year, but Purcell personally racked up two for unnecessary roughness, costing them a total of 30 yards.
All that said, he is far from the only one in Denver who is guilty of such penalties. It was also an incredibly frustrating year for everyone, and I think we all lost our tempers about the disappointment of last season.
Taking into consideration the magnitude of his potential contribution for this year, coupled with potential drawbacks, I think the most obvious downside right now is that he’s injured without a precise return date. I don’t think that’s enough for him to get cut from Denver’s squad, though, especially since those injuries and the subsequent surgery were considered “minor” when they were announced in May. I daresay we’ll be seeing Purcell on the field this season, and only time will tell how much.