The Broncos have been one of the league’s busiest teams in free agency, authorizing multiple big-money deals to bolster their offensive and defensive fronts (among other areas of need). The club is also finalizing a lower-profile transaction to keep a core special-teamer and key secondary reserve on board.
Per Mike Klis of 9News.com, Denver and cornerback Essang Bassey were putting the finishing touches on a one-year contract last night. Bassey, whom the Broncos signed as a UDFA in 2020, was eligible for restricted free agency after having accrued three years of service time. However, even the lowest-level RFA tender would have cost Denver $2.63MM, which the team deemed too expensive. So the Broncos non-tendered Bassey, thereby allowing him to hit the open market.
Klis says that the Jaguars and one other team showed serious interest in Bassey’s services, and it appeared as if Jacksonville would land him. The Jags, though, re-signed fellow CB Tre Herndon, which led Bassey to believe that a return to Denver was his best bet.
Bassey was a pleasant surprise for the Broncos in his rookie campaign in 2020, getting into 12 games (three starts) and securing a spot as the team’s top nickelback. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL late that year and missed most of 2021 as a result. He did play in one game apiece for the Broncos and Chargers — who had claimed him off waivers — in December 2021, and he returned to the Broncos last year. He saw action in 14 contests in 2022, participating in 23% of Denver’s defensive plays and 62% of the club’s special teams snaps.
In his career, the 24-year-old has recorded 39 tackles, an interception, and four passes defensed. In 2023, he will likely reprise his roles as a rotational member of the Broncos’ defensive backfield and as a regular third phase contributor.