Denver will tender Alexander Johnson at the second-round level, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post (on Twitter). Johnson and wide receiver Tim Patrick received second-round tenders, which come out to $3.4MM this year.
An unusual RFA, Johnson will turn 30 this year. A legal issue delayed his NFL career, but the former Tennessee Volunteer has thrived after receiving his opportunity in Denver. The Broncos turned to Johnson as their starting middle linebacker early in the 2019 season, and he has become one of the league’s better off-ball ‘backers. Joining Josey Jewell as Denver starting linebackers going into contract years, Johnson led the 2020 team in tackles with 124.
Given his age, Johnson may not be a candidate for a long-term deal. But he could be in the mix for either a medium-length Broncos extension before the mid-June RFA deadline or draw interest for a similarly structured pact in unrestricted free agency next year.
Both Johnson and Patrick were expected to draw interest from other teams, had the Broncos tendered them at the right-of-first-refusal level. The Broncos did place the low-end tender on Linsday, whose profile exceeds both Johnson and Patrick’s. It will be interesting to see if the Pro Bowl running back draws an offer sheet. Any offer sheet that comes for Patrick or Johnson would require the signing team to send a second-round pick to the Broncos, should they fail to match. This scenario seems unlikely, pointing both players back to Denver for the 2021 season.
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