OCTOBER 4: Gregory will end up on IR after all, per a team announcement; the move guarantees that he will be unavailable for at least one month. The Broncos also confirmed on Tuesday that Williams will head to IR, along with the signing of Latavius Murray to try and compensate for his loss.
OCTOBER 3: Although the Broncos lost their top running back to a season-ending knee injury, they are expected to have Randy Gregory back this year. It will just require yet another 2022 surgery for the standout defensive end to return.
Gregory avoided ACL damage and will undergo arthroscopic meniscus surgery, per Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio and NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter links). While Gregory’s timeline will be determined post-surgery, the Broncos free agent acquisition could be ready to come back without needing an IR stay. A two- to six-week absence should be the timetable, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Nathaniel Hackett, however, did say short-term IR — mandating a four-week absence — is on the table.
This will be Gregory’s third 2022 surgery. Prior to making his decision to commit to the Broncos, Gregory underwent a previous knee surgery. That took place during the winter. Shortly after signing with the Broncos in March, Gregory then underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery. The shoulder operation led to Gregory being on the shelf for months. While these three procedures did not address severe injuries, they have comprised quite the surgical docket for the pass-rushing standout. Considering the Williams development, the Broncos are still fortunate Gregory will be expected back fairly soon.
The Broncos made Gregory the centerpiece of their free agency puzzle. After seeing their Gregory negotiations nearly lead to the former Cowboys second-round pick re-sign with his original NFL team, guarantee forfeiture language led him to renege on the Dallas commitment and take his five-year, $70MM contract from Denver. The Broncos, who passed on a more expensive Von Miller reunion, preferred the 29-year-old Gregory at $14MM per. They then drafted Nik Bonitto in the second round and traded frequent spot starter Malik Reed to the Steelers.
The Reed trade sets up Baron Browning, who converted from inside linebacker to the edge this offseason, to be Denver’s top Bradley Chubb complementary rusher. A 2021 third-round pick, Browning has played in front of Bonitto to start this season. Gregory was instrumental in the Broncos’ defense leading the team to wins over the Texans and 49ers, recording sacks in both games. He has two forced fumbles to start his Broncos run. But the upper-echelon defense, which is already without Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons, will need to get by without its highest-paid edge defender for the time being.