The Broncos announced today that an MRI revealed defensive end Vance Walker has suffered a torn ACL and is expected to miss the entirety of the 2016 season.
Walker’s injury is a serious blow for a Denver defense that has already lost some of its star power through the free agent process. After Malik Jackson landed a massive deal with the Jaguars, Walker was expected to start in Jackson’s place, providing the club’s defense with some level of stability following Jackson’s defection. Instead, former Texan Jared Crick, who signed a two-year deal this offseason, and second-round rookie Adam Gotsis, will form a rotation in an attempt to replace Jackson.
In 15 games last season, the 29-year-old Walker posted two sacks in a limited role, but could have expected to see those numbers grow in 2016. Walker signed a two-year, $5MM deal with Denver prior to last season, and has a $2.25MM cap charge for the upcoming season. That figure will stay on the Broncos’ books despite the fact that Walker won’t be providing any production.
If Denver opts to look to the free agent market in order to add a reinforcement, it could show interest in 3-4 defensive ends such as Chris Canty, Stephen Bowen, and Antonio Smith, the latter of whom played for the Broncos last year.
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