Broncos Sign C Sam Mustipher

Losing Lloyd Cushenberry, the Broncos will have a new center starter in 2023. Cushenberry had held that role for nearly his entire rookie contract, only ceding the role due to a 2022 injury. Younger blockers will be in the mix for the job, but the Broncos now have a veteran set to enter the competition.

Denver added Sam Mustipher on Thursday, per a team announcement. The former Bears regular has made 42 career starts. He operated as Chicago’s full-time center from 2021-22, before spending last season in Baltimore.

A former UDFA out of Notre Dame, Mustipher will join holdovers Luke Wattenberg and Alex Forsyth. Broncos GM George Paton praised the two younger snappers, Forsyth in particular, but Mustipher laps both in terms of experience. Wattenberg, a 2022 fifth-round pick, played in 16 games last season but has one career start through two years. Forsyth did not see any action as a rookie, effectively redshirting. The Broncos have enjoyed success with this center path in the not-so-distant path, plugging in Matt Paradis after he did not play as a rookie. But Mustipher provides some insurance.

Mustipher, 27, signed with the Ravens in May of last year and did not make the their 53-man roster last year but ended up playing in nine games (two starts). He played 199 snaps at center and three at guard in 2023. With the Bears, Mustipher surpassed the 1,000-snap mark at center in both his starter seasons, missing only one game from 2021-22. After grading Mustipher as one of the league’s worst centers in 2021, Pro Football Focus ranked him 18th — ahead of Cushenberry — in 2022.

The Titans gave Cushenberry a big-ticket deal — four years, $50MM, $26MM guaranteed at signing — but the former third-round pick was not viewed especially highly until his contract year. The Broncos already have three O-linemen — Garett Bolles, Ben Powers, Mike McGlinchey — signed to veteran contracts. Right guard Quinn Meinerz also looms as a presumptive extension candidate. It certainly looks like they will use a low-cost center plan in 2024.

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