AFC West Notes: Broncos, Brown, Chiefs

Broncos defensive coordinator Ed Donatell required hospitalization after contracting the coronavirus, according to the team. The second-year Denver DC was hospitalized last week but discharged Sunday, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. He remains away from the team, recovering at home. Donatell, 63, has been battling COVID-19 symptoms since Oct. 31 and has missed the past three games. Donatell, who is in his third stint with the franchise, one of a few Broncos staffers to have contracted the virus. Running backs coach Curtis Modkins did so in October, and offensive line coach Mike Munchak was in the team’s COVID protocol. GM John Elway and team president Joe Ellis tested positive for the virus. Elway announced he has recovered, while Ellis has been in quarantine for nearly three weeks and has yet to be cleared to return, Klis notes.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • The NFL has expressed “serious concern” about the outbreak among Broncos staffers, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. The league and the NFLPA have continued to stress the importance of non-players adhering to the evolving COVID-19 protocols, per JLC.
  • The Raiders have been the league’s chief culprits at violating the NFL’s coronavirus policies, and their latest issue — Clelin Ferrell‘s positive test causing half the team’s starting defense to land on the reserve/COVID-19 list — could conceivably prompt the NFL to move another Las Vegas Sunday-night tilt off of primetime. As of Wednesday evening, however, the league has no plans to change the start time for Week 11’s Raiders-Chiefs rematch, Adam Schefter of tweets. The NFL moved Week 7’s Buccaneers-Raiders game to a Sunday-afternoon window after Trent Brown‘s positive test caused Las Vegas’ starting O-line to miss a week’s worth of workouts.
  • Speaking of Brown, the mammoth right tackle remains on the Raiders’ COVID list. However, a hope exists Brown can receive clearance to resume workouts next week, Schefter tweets. Brown is naturally at higher risk of developing severe symptoms from the virus compared to most players, due to his weight (380 pounds), but he wants to play again this season. The Raiders have placed Brown on their virus list twice this year, the second time due to a pregame issue in Cleveland resulting in the 27-year-old blocker being hospitalized.
  • While Justin Simmons has not made an issue of his contract since he and the Broncos failed to come to an extension agreement in July, he would prefer to stay with the team, per the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran. The floor for the standout safety will likely be $14MM per year on a long-term deal, with five safeties signing deals worth $14MM AAV or more since March 2019. Simmons has played every snap for the Broncos this season and ranks as Pro Football Focus’ fourth-highest-graded safety, a year after he landed second on PFF’s list. Citing the pandemic, Simmons said, via O’Halloran, he is grateful for his setup (an $11.4MM franchise tag salary). This comes after he expressed disappointment no deal emerged this summer. If the Broncos tag Simmons again, he would be entitled to a $13.7MM 2021 salary.
  • Former Simmons secondary mate Chris Harris will return to action soon. The Chargers designated the All-Decade cornerback to return from IR on Wednesday. The team has three weeks to activate him. Harris, who signed a two-year deal worth $17.5MM in March, has been out since Week 2 because of a foot injury.
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9 comments on “AFC West Notes: Broncos, Brown, Chiefs

  1. Yep it is

    Oh yes please move the Chiefs- Raiders off Sunday night so we can see another Jets- Patriots or Eagles- Washington game. What a joke.

    • Technically correct

      Probably Packers vs Colts, or maybe Titans vs Ravens if they have to move it. Yep is looking at week 17, and I don’t blame him. Let’s get to 2021 already!

  2. JoeBrady

    The Raiders put up 490 yards against KC. And KC can easily return the favor, even against the Raiders’ regular defense. It could be a great game.

    • itslonelyatthetrop

      The bench guys are promoted to starters and go up against the reigning world champions. You wanna bet they’re gonna be motivated? Could be a sight to see!

  3. Ak185

    I get that the league is taking COVID seriously, as they should, but what did they think was going to happen if they ran a season? People are going to get infected. Are they going to penalize every instance? I get certain cases, like the Titans’ practice, but the example of Eleanor and the Broncos seems like reaching.

    I don’t know every detail of course, so I will concede that. This is not a protest against having safety measures. But at some point, the league has to realize that their decision to start a season with the pandemic in effect automatically creates a risk of infection and that they bear responsibility to some degree in addition to the teams.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Ultimately we as individuals, all decide how much risk we are willing to take with our health. Some players chose to opt out before the season began, some are following established protocols and others are simply doing as they please without concern for any consequences to themselves or others. The NFL is trying to discourage the latter action via penalties which seems reasonable.

    • Tony B

      They aren’t penalized for infections. They are penalized for violating protocols which put others at health risk and cause economic damage to the league.

      The rules are part of the union agreement. Violate them, and you should lose paychecks.

      • Ak185

        They’re investigating, there have been no violations alleged yet. My point is, again, that the NFL should embrace more of the responsibility themselves instead of laying it all on the teams for every single infection.

        They wanted a season. They got a season. Yes, I agree that blatant violators of the rules should be fined, but there should be some level of understanding that this is a contact sport that drastically increases the necessity of close interaction. That by itself will influence how the personnel interact, even if they do what they’re supposed to do. By accepting the risk of having a season (one outside of a bubble at that), the NFL should have accepted the risk of spreading infections. Blaming it all on the teams for poor protocol compliance is a cop-out on the league’s part to avoid responsibility for creating the risk of infection to begin with.

        This is mostly hypothetical, but the league’s zeal in punishing alleged violators should be tempered with the understanding that the league created this situation by pushing for a season to begin with.

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