Ahmad Gooden

AFC West Notes: Gordon, Broncos, Thornhill

In examining the contract impasse between the Chargers and running back Melvin Gordon, both Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com emphasize one factor that has been largely overlooked in other reports and opinions concerning Gordon’s threat to sit out the entire season: if Gordon makes good on his threat, his contract would toll and he would still be under club control in 2020 at the same salary he would earn in 2019. So Gordon really doesn’t have a ton of leverage here, which is why Fitzgerald believes the 2015 first-round pick will ultimately be on the field come Week 1 regardless of whether he has a new deal in place.

Now for more from the AFC West, starting with additional thoughts on Gordon:

  • Fitzgerald notes that Gordon does not fit neatly into either the top tier of the league’s running backs, who have contracts paying at least $13MM per season, or into the second tier, which tops out at an AAV of $8.25MM. Fitzgerald believes that, if the Chargers want to keep Gordon for the long haul — which is still up in the air at this point — the two sides will come together on a pact that pays Gordon around $10MM per season.
  • It’s roster projection season, and Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post takes a look at the Broncos‘ WR situation. Emmanuel Sanders‘ inability to participate in the Broncos’ offseason program allowed the club to thoroughly its evaluate young pass catchers, who impressed the coaching staff with their intelligence and instincts. O’Halloran notes that Sanders could open training camp on the PUP list, and his health may force Denver to carry six receivers, good news for rookie sixth-rounder Juwann Winfree and UDFA Trinity Benson. O’Halloran believes both players will make the team.
  • In a separate piece, O’Halloran explores UDFA Ahmad Gooden‘s chances of making the Broncos. O’Halloran says Gooden drew interest from multiple teams after the draft but saw Denver as the best fit given its newfound openings at OLB. Gooden was a stand-up DE in college, but he was asked to drop into both man and zone coverage, which is a skill that’s expected of the Broncos’ outside ‘backers. If he can flash some pass rush ability, he will have a good shot.
  • Mike Klis of 9News.com examines the Broncos‘ revamped secondary, which should be a strength for the team this season. However, he notes that safety Su’a Cravens may be a long shot to make the 53-man roster. While Denver’s previous regime saw Cravens as a dime linebacker, new HC Vic Fangio says Cravens will need to make the club as a pure safety, which seems like a dubious proposition given Cravens’ struggles in coverage in 2018, his first season with the Broncos.
  • Brook Pryor of the Kansas City Star takes a shot at projecting the Chiefs‘ 53-man roster. After an impressive spring, Pryor believes UDFA Cody Thompson will fill the club’s last WR spot at least until Tyreek Hill returns from his likely suspension, and she tabs Juan Thornhill as a key piece to the Kansas City secondary. The second-round rookie from UVA looked good in spring practices before injuring his hamstring, and assuming he is ready for training camp and continues to play well, he will be the Chiefs’ starting free safety and Tyrann Mathieu will be able to play closer to the line, which is his preference.

Broncos Sign 17 UDFAs

The Broncos UDFA list is up to 17 players, and it now officially includes quarterback Brett Rypien, whom the club agreed to sign several days ago. Today, Denver waived Garrett Grayson to make room for Rypien. Here’s the updated list (Mike Klis of 9News.com passes along the signing bonuses for all of the players for whom that information is available).

The Broncos have been consistent in identifying UDFA talent during John Elway‘s tenure, with Chris Harris becoming a perennial Pro Bowler and C.J. Anderson and Phillip Lindsay each making the Pro Bowl during their initial years as starters.

Lindsay’s late-season injury may create a chance for Jackson, who rushed for 1,385 yards and 12 touchdowns last season at the Division II school. The 5-foot-7 ball carrier will give the Broncos a two-Devontae running back room, with Devontae Booker entering a contract year.

Denver lost two offensive linemen in free agency and only drafted one, Dalton Risner, pointing to an opportunity for its quartet of UDFA blockers.