West Notes: Broncos, Cardinals, 49ers

The Broncos entered the offseason with questions at two of the game’s most important positions – quarterback and left tackle – and that remains the case, writes Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com. But general manager John Elway, who’s sticking with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch under center and drafted ex-Utah left tackle Garett Bolles in the first round, expects the Broncos to return to the playoffs in 2017. “I like where we are. I like where we’ll be if we continue to work,” said Elway, whose club went 9-7 last season and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Elway added that the Broncos are “a pretty good football team,” which led him to trade two draft picks and reduce his selection total from 10 to eight. “We had the meeting before the draft started … and we started counting numbers,” Elway explained. “It’s going to be hard to make our football team. We’ve got a lot of good football players, so that’s why we have to be that good in the draft because we’ve got to find guys that can come in and compete and have a chance to make our football team.”

Now the latest on a couple NFC West teams:

  • Regarding his decision to accept a pay cut earlier this offseason, Cardinals cornerback and special teams standout Justin Bethel told Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic, “It’s called betting on yourself.” Bethel agreed to a reworked contract that hacked $2MM off his base salary for this season and erased the final year of his deal, 2018, which will give him an opportunity to hit free agency next March. In order to cash in, though, Bethel will need to be more of a defensive factor than he was last season, when he only saw action in 25 percent of snaps. Along the way, head coach Bruce Arians called Bethel a “failure in progress.” But Arians acknowledged last month that a broken foot may have held Bethel back, and the defender agrees. “Before I broke my foot, I thought I was going to come into the season and earn the starting job,” Bethel said. “I still had high hopes that I would be healthy by training camp. That wasn’t the case. I was just trying to make it through (the season). I knew I wasn’t healthy enough to play corner all the time.” Bethel and Arians are now “on good terms,” according to Bethel, who will get a chance to start opposite Patrick Peterson in 2017. With free agency looming, the upcoming campaign will be a make-or-break season for Bethel, opines Bickley.
  • The 49ers have tabbed Ran Carthon as their new director of pro personnel, general manager John Lynch announced Friday. Carthon served in the same role with the NFC West rival Rams over the previous five seasons, before they dismissed him last month.
  • In other 49ers news, the team worked out defensive lineman Carlos Wray on Thursday, tweets Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. Wray was among three defensive linemen whom the 49ers auditioned, along with the previously reported Kedric Golston and Cedric Reed. A former Duke Blue Devil, Wray signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent last spring, but they waived/injured him in July.
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