The Broncos have seen enough from Darian Stewart in his two years with the team to know they want him around long-term, agreeing to terms with the safety on a four-year extension, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).
This will make Stewart a top-12 safety in terms of AAV and, interestingly, the highest-paid safety on the team. T.J. Ward will make $5.75MM next season as part of a four-year deal he signed in 2014. But the Pro Bowl safety will enter the final year of his contract in 2017, with Stewart — the starting secondary’s lone non-Pro Bowl component –now looking set to be a part of this defense for a longer period of time.
The 28-year-old former UDFA was set to become a free agent in 2017. This locks up another player from Denver’s dominant defense. Stewart (44 tackles, three interceptions this season) joins Derek Wolfe, Brandon Marshall and Von Miller as defensive starters the Broncos have re-upped this year.
Klis reports the Broncos initiated this pact in advance of the free safety’s three-turnover game against the Saints. The Broncos signed Stewart to a two-year deal worth $4.25MM in 2015, and the former Rams and Ravens defender has been a quality starter since arriving. He made a game-sealing interception in his first contest as a Bronco and has started every game in which he’s played since, also forcing a fumble and recording a sack in Super Bowl 50.
Denver’s starting secondary of Stewart, Ward, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris is locked up through next season, with Talib and Harris signed through 2019. Stewart is now signed through ’20 instead of joining DeMarcus Ware and Sylvester Williams as walk-year starting defenders.
The Broncos drafted safeties Justin Simmons and Will Parks this year, pointing to a possible Stewart free agency defection like so many Broncos defenders in recent years. But the seventh-year player, who signed a one-year deal with the Ravens in 2014, will now will enter next season as a rare starter younger than 30 on a fourth contract.
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