Broncos Rumors

Broncos, Frank Clark Agree To Deal

Another domino on the edge-rushing front fell Thursday afternoon. Not long after Leonard Floyd agreed to terms with the Bills, Frank Clark is set to join the Broncos. The former Seahawks and Chiefs edge defender intends to sign with Denver, The Score’s Jordan Schultz tweets.

Clark spent the past four years in Kansas City, but after being the team’s top edge player throughout that term, the Super Bowl champions released him ahead of free agency. The Broncos entered Thursday with a less certain edge group, one dependent on Randy Gregory staying healthy. Clark stands to add a veteran piece to the mix.

[RELATED: Broncos Interested In Dalvin Cook?]

The Broncos will give Clark a one-year deal worth up to $7.5MM, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Close in numbers to Buffalo’s Floyd deal, Clark’s Denver accord will include a $5.5MM base salary guarantee. The other $2MM will be divided into incentives, with Schefter adding that $1MM comes via potentially achievable incentives while the other million will be classified as unlikely to be earned escalators. Floyd signed for $7MM guaranteed Monday, likely laying the groundwork for the Broncos and Clark.

Clark, who will turn 30 next week, did not live up to the monster extension he signed with the Chiefs upon being acquired via trade in 2019. Despite not producing a 10-sack season in Kansas City, the eight-year veteran has three Pro Bowls on his resume. A former second-round pick, Clark has tallied two double-digit sack slates. Both came with Seattle.

Upon designating Brandon McManus as a post-June 1 cut late last month, the Broncos freed up $3.75MM in 2023 cap space. That will end up going toward Clark’s guarantee, with Sean Payton noting post-release the team was looking into other areas on its roster. Clark and Payton spoke this week and “hit it off,” Schefter tweets. While the Broncos still have George Paton in place as GM, Payton almost definitely has considerable personnel power given what it took to acquire his rights this winter.

The situation with Sean Payton is good for me,” Clark said, via CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson (on Twitter). “I get to play alongside Randy Gregory and stay in my in division that I am very familiar with. I also want to help the Broncos get back to the mountaintop.”

Clark will join a pass-rushing stable featuring Gregory, converted inside linebacker Baron Browning and 2022 second-round pick Nik Bonitto. The Broncos struggled to consistently generate pressure after trading Bradley Chubb last year, with Gregory on the shelf for much of the campaign. Browning also missed time due to injury, while Bonitto totaled just 1.5 sacks in 15 games. Denver carried considerable edge depth coming into its 2022 training camp, but after trading Malik Reed to the Steelers and seeing Gregory go down with a knee injury early in the season, the Broncos created a need by dealing Chubb to the Dolphins. Denver did not draft a defensive lineman or outside linebacker this year, though third-round pick Drew Sanders totaled 9.5 sacks from his inside linebacker post at Arkansas last season.

While Clark’s regular-season numbers in Kansas City left much to be desired — based on the five-year, $104MM deal he signed in 2019 — the former Michigan talent did produce in the playoffs. Clark totaled five postseason sacks for the 2019 Super Bowl champion Chiefs squad, three in 2020 and added 2.5 during Kansas City’s latest Super Bowl run. His 13 postseason sacks trail only Willie McGinest (16) and Bruce Smith (14.5) in NFL history. Clark, however, has not topped six sacks in a regular season since 2019.

Off-field trouble followed Clark to Kansas City. After a domestic violence arrest led to Michigan booting him from the team in 2014, Clark was arrested on two gun-related charges in 2021. He resolved both matters but served a two-game suspension last season. The Chiefs reworked his lucrative contract earlier in 2022, avoiding a cap-casualty transaction, but ended up parting ways with Clark a year after doing so. He will attempt to aid the Broncos as they aim to rebound from a disappointing 2022 season.

Broncos OLB Baron Browning Undergoes Knee Surgery

Although the Broncos are adding Frank Clark to their pass-rushing group, they might be without another member of that contingent for part of training camp. Baron Browning is recovering from arthroscopic surgery to address a meniscus injury, Mike Klis of 9News reports.

Browning suffered a partially torn meniscus, per Klis, who adds the third-year defender is expected to be back at some point during camp. Browning has not practiced during the media-attended portion of Broncos OTAs.

Moved from inside to outside linebacker ahead of his second season, the former third-round pick flashed at points upon replacing an injured Randy Gregory last season. Browning totaled 1.5 sacks, six QB hits and a fumble recovery during an October loss to the Colts — Denver’s first game without Gregory — and finished his season with five sacks. Browning’s injury is not related to anything from last season, with Klis noting it is believed to have come from training independently this offseason.

This knee issue comes after Gregory missed much of last season because of knee trouble. Gregory sustained his knee injury in early October, returned for two December games and did not play in Denver’s final two contests. Browning only missed three games due to hip and back maladies; two of those absences came after the team dealt Bradley Chubb to the Dolphins at the trade deadline. The player brought in to help the depleted unit at the deadline — Jacob Martin — finished last season on IR. The Broncos released Martin last month.

Browning is expected to be a key piece in Vance Joseph‘s defense this season. The Ohio State alum became the rare inside linebacker to become a quick starter on the edge, doing so after starting nine games inside in 2021. As they turned to Alex Singleton alongside Josey Jewell at that position last year, the Broncos shifted Browning to the outside in their 3-4 scheme. While Browning’s move to outside ‘backer occurred over a year ago, he will not be able to begin onsite training in Joseph’s system for a bit.

It will be interesting to what role Joseph and Sean Payton have in mind for the former five-star recruit now that Clark is in the fold. The Broncos also have 2022 second-rounder Nik Bonitto and ex-Browning Buckeyes teammate Jonathon Cooper in their OLB mix.

Vikings To Release RB Dalvin Cook; Dolphins, Broncos On Radar

After months of trade rumors, the Vikings plan to conclude the offseason Dalvin Cook saga with a release. Minnesota now intends to cut its six-year starting running back, Tom Pelissero of reports (on Twitter).

The Vikings intend to follow through with this long-rumored separation Friday, Pelissero tweets. While this potentially opens the door to a last-ditch trade effort, Minnesota has dangled Cook in deals for several weeks now. No takers have emerged. Cook is a vested veteran and will move straight to free agency if/when cut. The Vikes, as should be expected here, will make a final effort to trade Cook,’s Adam Schefter tweets.

As for potential suitors, Schefter names the Dolphins — who discussed Cook with the Vikings earlier this offseason — and Broncos (Twitter link). Denver has a clear tie, with GM George Paton being in Minnesota when the Vikes drafted Cook in 2017 second round, but the team also signed Samaje Perine and has starter Javonte Williams already participating in offseason work despite tearing an ACL in October.

The Broncos are highly unlikely to make an 11th-hour trade offer for Cook, per 9News’ Mike Klis, who adds they should not be considered a lock to pursue him in free agency. But Schefter notes the team has been monitoring the talented back for weeks. The Dolphins hold nearly $14MM in cap space; the Broncos sit at just more than $10MM. Other suitors are believed to be in the mix once Cook officially becomes available at 3pm CT Friday, but these are the two known candidates at this point.

Cook’s positional value and $10.4MM base salary have almost definitely impeded strong trade offers from emerging. A release will save the Vikings $9MM, though the Pro Bowler’s dead money would be spread over two offseasons. Cook has $2MM in guaranteed salary owed; that will bump his career earnings past $34MM. His next contract will not come close to the five-year, $63MM contract the Vikings authorized before the 2020 season, but an interesting free agency sweepstakes looks likely to launch soon.

As a South Florida native who played at Florida State, Cook is believed to have interest in heading to Miami. The Dolphins are expected to make an offer, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. This would come after the team made several moves at running back this offseason. Miami re-signed Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson and Myles Gaskin, though the trio’s combined guarantees do not top $6MM, and used a third-round pick on Texas A&M speedster Devon Achane.

With Tyreek Hill‘s $30MM-per-year contract the only notable pact attached to a Dolphins quarterback or skill-position player, Miami makes sense here. Cook, who is going into his age-28 season, could slide in as a hired gun. The Broncos, conversely, have Russell Wilson tied to a monster extension and Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick on eight-figure-per-year deals. That said, Denver did well to sign both receivers before Hill and Co. transformed that market in 2022. Unlike the Dolphins, the Broncos did not draft a running back this year.

Cook’s Florida ties could seemingly prompt the Broncos or an unknown suitor to make a trade offer before the release processes, as to keep the back from joining the Dolphins. The Vikings kept Za’Darius Smith on their roster for months, despite the edge rusher lobbying for a release in March, before agreeing to a low-level trade with the Browns. It would be interesting to see how much of Cook’s base salary the Vikings would be willing to eat to facilitate a trade. As of Thursday morning, Cook remains under contract through 2025.

Passing Chuck Foreman for third place in Vikings rushing yardage last season, Cook has reeled off four straight 1,100-plus-yard years. Despite nagging injuries that have emerged since his rookie-year ACL tear, Cook has proven fairly durable. He has only missed more than two games in a season once over the past four years (in 2021) and played all 18 Vikings contests in 2022. Cook did undergo shoulder surgery earlier this offseason, however. Only Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb have accumulated more rushing yards than Cook (5,024) since 2019.

The Vikings moving on from Cook this week will keep him away from their mandatory minicamp, where longtime backup Alexander Mattison‘s ascent is now set to take place in earnest. The Vikings re-signed Mattison to a two-year deal worth just $7MM — in line with the Dolphins’ low-level RB pacts and others on the buyer’s market that expectedly formed this offseason — but nearly all of it is fully guaranteed. With Cook in limbo, Mattison — a former third-round pick who has occupied Minnesota’s RB2 slot for four years — is set to begin his age-25 season as Minnesota’s starter.

Despite the Vikings going 13-4 in 2022 (albeit one with a negative point differential), second-year GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has already parted with Vikings mainstays Adam Thielen and Eric Kendricks this offseason. This Cook move will leave Harrison Smith, Danielle Hunter and Brian O’Neill as the final ties to the homegrown core Rick Spielman built during the 2010s. The Vikings agreed to terms to retain Smith on a pay cut this offseason but have taken calls on Hunter, whose contract has been an issue for most of its duration.

Minor NFL Transactions: 6/5/23

Here are Monday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Denver Broncos

New England Patriots

  • Signed: WR Ed Lee

Pittsburgh Steelers 

Seattle Seahawks

Borders worked out for the Falcons on Monday, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 tweets. This will be team No. 11 for Borders, who is moving toward Josh Johnson journeyman territory — at least for volume. A former Raiders UDFA, Borders played in one game last season — with the Bears — after a 12-game 2021 (in Chicago and Arizona). Borders’ most notable NFL stint came when he started five games for the eventual AFC South champion Titans in 2020. Borders has also caught on with Buffalo, Houston, Jacksonville, Washington, Pittsburgh and Miami.

A 2019 UDFA, Crockett had been with the Broncos since 2020. He served as backfield depth in Denver, but all of his playing time came in 2021 — mostly on special teams. Crockett’s career encountered a speedbump during training camp last year; the Missouri alum suffered a torn ACL.

Contract Details: Trubisky, K. Jackson, Texans

Here are a few details on recently-signed contracts/extensions:

  • Mitchell Trubisky, QB (Steelers): Two-year extension. Signing bonus of $6.92MM. 2023-25 salaries (unguaranteed) of $1.08MM, $4.25MM, and $5MM. 90-man offseason roster bonuses of $1MM in 2024 and 2025. Up to $4.25MM of incentives in 2023. Up to $14.5MM in incentives from 2024-25. Via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • Kareem Jackson, S (Broncos): One-year, $2.67MM. Despite a 13-year career as a full-time starter, only guarantee is $152.5K signing bonus. Twitter link via Mike Klis of
  • Byron Cowart, DT (Texans): One-year. $1.08MM salary (veteran minimum). Includes injury waiver for previous back and knee injuries. Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of KPRC2.
  • Neville Hewitt, LB (Texans): One-year. $1.2MM salary. Signing bonus of $300K. Playing time incentives of up to $300K. Per game active roster bonus of up to $200K. Twitter link via Wilson.
  • Greg Little, OT (Texans): One-year. $1.08MM salary (veteran minimum). Signing bonus of $100K. Twitter link via Wilson.
  • Shaq Mason, G (Texans): Three-year, $36MM extension ($22MM guaranteed) on top of one remaining year of club control in 2023. Signing bonus of $10MM. 2023-26 salaries of $1.07MM (guaranteed) $9.25MM (guaranteed), $10MM ($1.05MM guaranteed), and $10.4MM (unguaranteed). Annual per game active roster bonus of up to $500K. Annual Pro Bowl incentive of $250K. $50K workout bonus from 2024-26. Twitter link via Wilson.

Trubisky was already under contract through 2023, and he was due an $8MM salary for the upcoming year. So, as Florio notes, the 28-year-old passer essentially gave the Steelers two more years of club control without any increase in 2023 pay and without securing any guaranteed money in the two tack-on years. It seems that after Pittsburgh unexpectedly re-signed fellow signal-caller Mason Rudolph, Trubisky was worried that he might be released, so in order to lock in the $8MM he was already planning to earn this season, he agreed to a team-friendly extension.

His contract is now due to expire when Kenny Pickett‘s rookie deal expires, so the Steelers will at least have a high-end backup on hand as Pickett seeks to establish himself as Pittsburgh’s franchise QB.

Broncos Still Eyeing Kickers

The Broncos may have added kicker Elliott Fry earlier this week, but that won’t stop the team from making more moves at the position. Sean Payton told reporters that the Broncos will still be on the lookout for available kickers (per Chris Tomasson of Denver Gazette on Twitter).

[RELATED: Broncos To Sign K Elliott Fry]

It’s not a huge surprise that the Broncos would continue to be in the market for kickers. The team moved on from veteran Brandon McManus this offseason, and they didn’t have a kicker on their roster until they added Fry this week.

Fry doesn’t have the resume of a kicker who should just be handed the job. The 28-year-old has only seen time in three career games with the Falcons, Bengals, and Chiefs, connecting on five of his field goal attempts and five of his seven extra point tries. He didn’t get into a regular season game in 2022. When Fry auditioned for the Broncos last week, he was joined by fellow free agents Brett Maher and Parker White. That duo remains unsigned.

Assuming the Broncos do bring in someone to compete with Fry, Payton cautioned that a supposed kicking competition still might not have any reflection on the regular-season roster. The head coach pointed to “a kicking battle one year in New Orleans,” when the Saints ended up signing a free agent following final cuts instead of opting for either of the two kickers on their roster.

“Don’t pay attention to the line in front of you or the room you’re in,” Payton said (via Parker Gabriel of The Denver Post). “You’re competing with yourself to put your best product on the field because there’s 31 other teams that might be deeper in a position.”

2023 NFL Cap Space, By Team

The start of June has served as a key NFL financial period for decades. While teams no longer have to wait until after June 1 to make that cost-splitting cut designation, teams pick up the savings from those transactions today. With a handful of teams making post-June 1 cuts this year, here is how each team’s cap space (courtesy of OverTheCap) looks as of Friday:

  1. Chicago Bears: $32.58MM
  2. Carolina Panthers: $27.25MM
  3. Arizona Cardinals: $26.68MM
  4. New York Jets: $24.79MM
  5. Detroit Lions: $23.72MM
  6. Indianapolis Colts: $23.39MM
  7. Dallas Cowboys: $20.48MM
  8. Houston Texans: $16.81MM
  9. Green Bay Packers: $16.57MM
  10. Pittsburgh Steelers: $15.73MM
  11. Cincinnati Bengals: $14.92MM
  12. New Orleans Saints: $14.27MM
  13. New England Patriots: $14.12MM
  14. Miami Dolphins: $13.9MM
  15. Cleveland Browns: $13.86MM
  16. Philadelphia Eagles: $13.85MM
  17. Los Angeles Chargers: $12.61MM
  18. Jacksonville Jaguars: $12MM
  19. Washington Commanders: $11.57MM
  20. Baltimore Ravens: $11.54MM
  21. San Francisco 49ers: $10.72MM
  22. Atlanta Falcons: $10.7MM
  23. Denver Broncos: $10.13MM
  24. Minnesota Vikings: $9.75MM
  25. Tennessee Titans: $7.99MM
  26. Seattle Seahawks: $7.94MM
  27. New York Giants: $3.82MM
  28. Las Vegas Raiders: $3.37MM
  29. Los Angeles Rams: $1.49MM
  30. Buffalo Bills: $1.4MM
  31. Kansas City Chiefs: $653K
  32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $402K

The Dolphins gained the most from a post-June 1 cut (Byron Jones) this year, creating $13.6MM in cap space from a deal that will spread out the cornerback’s dead money through 2024. But the Browns (John Johnson, Jadeveon Clowney) and Cowboys (Ezekiel Elliott) created more than $10MM in space as well.

The Jets’ number is a bit deceiving. They are still working on a restructure with Aaron Rodgers, as the trade acquisition’s cap number — after a Packers restructure — sits at just $1.22MM. In 2024, that number skyrockets to $107.6MM. Rodgers’ cap hit will almost definitely will climb before Week 1, so viewing the Jets along with the other teams north of $20MM in space is not entirely accurate.

Minnesota is moving closer to separating from its $12.6MM-per-year Dalvin Cook contract. The team already created some space by trading Za’Darius Smith to the Browns. Cleveland, which is one of the teams connected to DeAndre Hopkins, added Smith and did so with help from its Deshaun Watson restructure. Watson was set to count $54.9MM against the Browns’ 2023 cap. That number is down to $19.1MM, though the Browns’ restructure both ballooned Watson’s mid-2020s cap figures to $63.9MM — which would shatter the NFL record — and added a 2027 void year.

Tampa Bay and Los Angeles sit atop the league in dead money, with the Bucs — largely from their April 2022 Tom Brady restructure — checking in at $75.3MM here. That total comprises nearly 33% of the Bucs’ 2023 cap sheet. The Rams, at more than $74MM, are not far behind. Despite the Bills and Chiefs — the teams most frequently tied to Hopkins — joining the Bucs and Rams near the bottom of the league in cap space, both AFC contenders also sit in the bottom five in dead money.

P Brett Kern Announces Retirement

One of this era’s most experienced punters, Brett Kern will wrap his career after 15 seasons. The former Broncos, Titans and Eagles specialist announced Thursday he is retiring.

Best known for his Tennessee tenure, Kern punted in 197 games with the AFC South team. Although Oilers legends Bruce Matthews and Elvin Bethea have that number beat for the franchise, Kern has logged the most games — by a considerable margin — during the organization’s Tennessee period. Punters occupy the top two spots on the Tennessee section of that list, with Kern surpassing the player he replaced (Craig Hentrich).

Kern, 37, finished his 13-year Titans career with three Pro Bowl nods and a first-team All-Pro honor. The Titans gave promising UDFA Ryan Stonehouse the job out of training camp last year, and while Kern spent most of the season away from the game, he finished his career by helping the Eagles to Super Bowl LVII. Kern replaced an injured Arryn Siposs in December for the Eagles, punting in six games. Though, Siposs’ recovery from a December injury ended up booting Kern off Philly’s active roster just ahead of Super Bowl Sunday.

The Titans acquired Kern in 2009, claiming him a day after the Broncos waived him in-season. Kern signed three Titans extensions, including two deals that paid him at least $3MM per season. The most recent — a $12.65MM deal — came during the 2019 offseason. Despite playing the NFL’s second-lowest-paid regular position (ahead of long snapper), Kern earned more than $29MM during his career.

Kern led the NFL with 49.7 yards per punt in 2017 and finished four other seasons north of 47 years per boot. Following his three-year Pro Bowl run, Kern placed a career-high 59.5% of his punts inside the 20-yard line in 2020. He placed a career-high 39 punts inside the 20 in 2018.

Six Teams To Gain Cap Space From Post-June 1 Cut Designations

With the annual June 1 date — a pivotal salary point on the NFL’s calendar for decades — looming, a handful of teams will see their cap-space figures rise this week. This year, six teams took advantage of the post-June 1 cut designation the league allows for cost-defraying purposes.

Teams are permitted to designate two players per offseason as post-June 1 cuts. This transaction allows a team to spread out a dead-money hit over a two-year period, as opposed to absorbing all the cost in one offseason. The Cardinals did not take this path with DeAndre Hopkins, finalized a standard release Tuesday. Arizona is one of the six teams to have used the post-June 1 cut tactic this offseason, however.

Here are the teams who will pick up cap room Friday, via’s Field Yates (on Twitter):

  • Miami Dolphins: $13.6MM
  • Cleveland Browns: $10.92MM
  • Dallas Cowboys: $10.9MM
  • Washington Commanders: $4MM
  • Denver Broncos: $3.75MM
  • Arizona Cardinals: $3.22MM

With $1.3MM in cap space, the Dolphins sit 30th as May winds down. They will rise to the league’s top half thanks to the funds from their Byron Jones cut emerging. Jones missed all of last season due to injury, seeing what was believed to be a routine surgery — one not expected to even force him to miss training camp time — leave his career in jeopardy. Three years after the Dolphins gave Jones a then-record-setting cornerback contract, the former Cowboys Pro Bowler expressed doubt about playing again.

The Browns’ John Johnson release will balloon their cap space to $15.9MM. Cleveland gave Johnson a three-year, $33MM deal in 2021 but cut bait with a year to go. The Browns were believed to be interested in Jessie Bates, but the Falcons’ monster offer (four years, $64MM) won out. Cleveland instead signed ex-Kansas City starter Juan Thornhill. The Browns used their second post-June 1 designation on Jadeveon Clowney, doing so despite signing the former No. 1 overall pick to a one-year deal in 2022. Released for procedural purposes after a tumultuous year, Clowney is no longer in the Browns’ plans. The team, which has been mentioned as a Hopkins dark horse, now sits in the top 10 for cap space.

Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott cut will lead to a cap-space figure north of $21MM soon; that will place the team in the top eight. The team would have faced an $11.8MM dead-money charge had the post-June 1 designation not been used. Elliott remains in the mix to return to the Cowboys, but the two-time rushing champion would do so at a significantly reduced rate. The team had signed him to a six-year, $90MM extension ahead of the 2019 season, but the former No. 4 overall pick’s best work came on his rookie contract. The Cowboys still have Tony Pollard tied to a $10.1MM franchise tag.

Chase Roullier represents the source of the Commanders’ belated savings. Washington cut its former starting center earlier this month, doing so after signing veteran Nick Gates and drafting interior O-lineman Ricky Stromberg in Round 3. Roullier signed a Washington extension in January 2021 but missed 24 games over the past two seasons. The 2017 draftee, who played just two games last season due to a knee injury, remains unsigned. The Roullier-generated money will bump Washington’s cap-space total past $8MM.

Denver parting ways with longtime kicker Brandon McManus will lead to its slight funding increase, which will boost the team’s cap space past $10MM. McManus served as the Broncos’ kicker for nine seasons, taking over after Matt Prater‘s substance-abuse suspension in 2014. McManus signed two extensions to stay in Denver, the most recent in 2020. But the Broncos have another round of new special teams coaches. Sean Payton cited cost savings when addressing McManus’ release, and the veteran kicker already has a new gig — in Jacksonville.

The Cardinals will add a few million because of their Rodney Hudson release and J.J. Watt‘s retirement. Hudson, who has been closely tied to retirement, spent the past two seasons in Arizona. The Cards acquired the former Raiders and Chiefs center via 2021 trade. Hudson then signed a three-year, $30MM extension that ran through the 2024 season. Injuries doomed the former Pro Bowler in Arizona. After missing five games in 2021, Hudson missed 13 last season. Although Watt retired, the Cards created nearly $1.2MM in 2023 cap space by processing the move as a post-June 1 exit.

Because the Cardinals had used the post-June 1 designation on Hudson and Watt, they could not apply the cost-spreading measure to the Hopkins release. With the Hudson and Watt moves set to lift the Cardinals past the $27MM mark for cap space, only the Bears will reside ahead of them in available funds.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/31/23

Today’s minor transactions:

Baltimore Ravens

  • Signed: CB Jordan Swann

Denver Broncos

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Waived: LB Damon Lloyd

Tight end Tommy Hudson got into five games with the Titans last season, hauling in three catches for 31 yards. He’ll join a relatively deep tight ends group in Denver that includes Greg Dulcich, Chris Manhertz, Adam Trautman, and Albert Okwuegbunam.