John Elway spoke with T.J. Ward‘s agent earlier this summer and informed him the team did not intend to sign the veteran safety to an extension, with the GM telling media (including Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post) a Ward re-up was not in the team’s plans “at that point of time.” The Broncos made Ward one of the highest-profile cuts of the roster-slashing weekend, but Jhabvala reports the team did not come to a decision on Ward until last week. The rise of second-year safeties Justin Simmons and Will Parks, along with Ward’s injury history, played a role in the departure.
Citing a lack of clarity during the process, Ward on Monday called the Broncos “completely unprofessional” regarding the separation. The divorce came with one season remaining on the 30-year-old defender’s four-year contract. The eighth-year safety will earn up to $5MM with the Buccaneers this season. Ward missed all of Denver’s preseason games with a hamstring injury and missed six games due to injury in three Broncos campaigns — two of which producing Pro Bowls. Mike Klis of 9News described the process as Simmons — a 2016 third-round pick who served as Denver’s third safety last season — Wally Pipp’ing Ward (Twitter link). Klis notes Elway gave Ward “every chance” to make this year’s team.
Here’s the latest from the West divisions, shifting to Seattle, which just made the biggest trade in a week full of them.
- The injury to rookie Malik McDowell prompted the Seahawks to trade for Sheldon Richardson, Pete Carroll said, via the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta (on Twitter). Currently on the NFI list, McDowell does not have a timetable for a return, Condotta adds (via Twitter). Carroll said the team could still look to add another defensive tackle (Twitter link, via Condotta).
- Richardson will play the three-technique position in the Seahawks’ 4-3 scheme, the fifth-year defensive lineman said Monday (via Condotta, on Twitter). He will line up inside of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, giving the Seahawks one of the most talented defensive fronts in football. Richardson primarily played 3-4 defensive end with the Jets but also saw time at outside linebacker. He played 4-3 defensive tackle at the University of Missouri, though.
- Aaron Donald remains a holdout as the Rams begin their Week 1 preparations, but Sean McVay won’t impose a deadline on how late the All-Pro defensive lineman can report to the team and still play Sunday, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com reports. Rams reps flew to Atlanta to meet with Donald, but the sides reportedly aren’t close to a deal. Gonzalez adds McVay nonetheless remains “optimistic” about a solution.
- A two-position starter for the Broncos during the past two seasons, Michael Schofield attracted widespread interest on the waiver wire. The Chargers won out due to their position in the waiver hierarchy, but the Lions, Redskins, Vikings and Saints also put in claims on the fourth-year guard/tackle, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. A 2014 third-rounder, Schofield started for the Broncos at right tackle during their Super Bowl season and lined up at right guard throughout 2016. While Denver didn’t sport particularly effective O-lines during those seasons, Schofield clearly has believers out there.
- Speaking of waivers, the Seahawks hoped they’d have a chance to stash wide receiver Kasen Williams on their practice squad, Carroll said (via Condotta, on Twitter), but the Browns swooped in with a claim. The Seahawks will move on without Williams and Jermaine Kearse, traded to the Jets in the Richardson deal. Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett are now Seattle’s top complementary wideouts, and Lockett (per Condotta, on Twitter) is expected to play in Week 1 after breaking his fibula late last season.