A few months ago, any talk of the Broncos giving an extension to LT Garett Bolles would have seemed ridiculous. After all, Denver declined Bolles’ fifth-year option back in May, and the former first-round pick had not even come close to living up to his draft status.
But Bolles has been outstanding in 2020, ranking as Pro Football Focus’ top-rated tackle and receiving excellent marks for both his run-blocking and pass-blocking acumen. Plus, he has been called for just three holding penalties thus far, only one of which has been accepted. In his first two years as a pro, he was tied for the league lead in most accepted holding penalties, and in 2019, he was tied for sixth.
As Mike Klis of 9News.com writes, Bolles credits increased attention to his technique as one of the primary reasons for his stark improvement, along with new OC Pat Shurmur‘s pulling scheme. “I think in the past I just used my athletic ability to get the technical side of things,” Bolles said. “To the little things where taking sets barefoot in your kitchen, to watching film, watching guys, looking on the outside shoulder, hand movement and hand fights, and things like that.”
Better fundamentals have allowed the 28-year-old’s natural athleticism — which is what attracted the attention of GM John Elway to begin with — to shine through. And as he is earning just under $2MM this year, he looks like one of the best bargains in the league.
So one would think that Denver would be acting quickly to lock him up on a long-term basis, especially since the left tackle market is red-hot at the moment. But according to Klis, the club has yet to open extension talks, though that’s almost certainly due to the financial uncertainty created by COVID-19 and the fact that the salary cap is likely to decrease in 2021.
There is no indication that the Broncos are opposed to a new deal, and Bolles would certainly be receptive to one. “I mean, (a contract extension) would be nice, but it’s not up to me,” he said (via Troy Renck of Denver 7 ABC). “That’s why I hired an agent, he talks to Mr. Elway. When they want to do it, they’ll do it. That’s just how I look at it. I just want to be consistent. I have to go out there and play at a high level every single week.”
Given his past track record and the likelihood of a depressed free agent market, it would be surprising to see Bolles match or top David Bakhtiari‘s new $23MM/year deal with the Packers, and he may not hit the $20MM AAV threshold. But a surefire Pro Bowl (and perhaps First Team All-Pro) left tackle coming off a dominant season will be a highly-desirable commodity, so whether it comes from the Broncos or someone else, Bolles will be in line for a pretty sizable raise in short order.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.