Broncos RFAs Expected To Draw Interest

Preparing to use their franchise tag on Justin Simmons for a second straight year, the Broncos do not have a high number of unrestricted free agents that would seemingly factor prominently into their big picture. (Though, defensive linemanĀ Shelby Harris would qualify as such a player.)

But Denver does have a few intriguing restricted free agents, and teams are believed to be monitoring a couple of those players’ statuses. Should the Broncos fail to place at least a second-round tender on RFAs Alexander Johnson or Tim Patrick, interest in those contributors will develop quickly, Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com notes.

An unusual RFA due to his age, the 29-year-old Johnson has worked as a three-down linebacker with Denver for most of Vic Fangio‘s two seasons. Pro Football Focus has graded Johnson as a top-25 off-ball ‘backer in each of those seasons. Johnson made 124 tackles last season, teaming with Josey Jewell in Denver’s sub-packages. Jewell is going into a contract year.

Despite the Broncos becoming the first team since the 2003 Cardinals to use first- and second-round picks on wideouts in the same draft — in Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler — Patrick led the team with six receiving touchdowns and amassed a career-high 742 receiving yards. The Broncos leaned on their 6-foot-4 ex-UDFA in key spots after Courtland Sutton‘s season-ending injury. Sutton is going into a contract year in 2021.

Should the Broncos place second-round RFA tenders on Johnson and Patrick, they would have the right to match an offer sheet. A refusal to do so would mean a second-round pick coming Denver’s way. Round 2 RFA tenders are expected to come in around $3.3MM, per OverTheCap. The rarely used first-round tender is expected to cost around $4.8MM.

Interestingly, Phillip Lindsay‘s status may be murkier. The Broncos paused extension talks with their Pro Bowl running back last year, giving Melvin Gordon an $8MM-AAV contract instead. It is unclear if Lindsay will receive a second-round tender, per Legwold, or if the Broncos will give the two-time 1,000-yard rusher the right-of-first-refusal tender. The latter scenario would mean the team would receive no compensation if it refused to match a Lindsay offer sheet. A similar situation unfolded five years ago, when the Broncos gave C.J. Anderson the low-end tender but matched a Dolphins offer sheet. Gordon is under contract for 2021, but his DUI arrest and expected suspension leaves the six-year veteran’s $8.9MM cap number vulnerable.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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2 comments on “Broncos RFAs Expected To Draw Interest

  1. MileHighFan

    Retaining worthy second tier players has been a problem area in the Elway-led front office for years. They’d rather draft a cheap replacement and spend their money on someone else’s free agents. You should expect the same thing to happen here.

    Patrick is the one guy they should make a real effort to sign, as it isn’t yet clear that all the media hype surrounding Jeudy or Hamler is justified – as they didn’t look like anything special when on the field last year.

  2. Trojan7

    So true the broncos need to sign patrick, johnson and Shelby because they all proved to be players that can be big in getting back to contention and as for Lindsay they don’t want to sign him because they want bigger backs and don’t like his pass catching and pass blocking abilities they are making a mistake letting him walk and will pay if they do smh

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