Broncos Rumors

Broncos Wanted To Start Coach At QB

Clearly he didn’t leave much wiggle room. It’s not like Fitzpatrick lit the world on fire against New York, but he did have two touchdowns and no turnovers. The offense has undeniably moved better with Fitzpatrick under center than Tagovailoa, but obviously Tua is the future. Flores felt comfortable benching Tagovailoa during their Week 11 loss to the Broncos, but clearly doesn’t want to make a full-on change. That being said with Tagovailoa potentially looking at a multi-week absence due to his thumb injury, Fitzmagic might not be ending too soon. If Fitzpatrick plays the Dolphins into the playoffs, it’ll be very interesting to see whether Flores can avoid changing his tune.

  • The Broncos were in an unprecedented situation Sunday as all of their quarterbacks were ruled out due to COVID-19 issues. That led to practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton, who played some quarterback in college, getting the start under center. But before Denver turned to Hinton they initially wanted to make offensive quality control coach Rob Calabrese their starting quarterback against the Saints, sources told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Calabrese has been with the team the past two years and Denver felt he knew the system better than anyone else. Schefter notes the league rejected the request out of principle against coaches being activated to keep teams from stashing potential players on the coaching staff. Calabrese played some quarterback at UCF, and ended his college career in 2012. Calabrese apparently ran the offense during practice on Sunday. It’s too bad Roger Goodell didn’t allow it, as that would’ve been even more bonkers and fun than the Hinton situation.

Broncos WR Kendall Hinton To Start At QB

All four of the Broncos’ quarterbacks have been ruled out for today’s game, putting the team in a truly unprecedented situation. With no other options available, wide receiver Kendall Hinton will be elevated from the practice squad and put under center against the Saints.

[RELATED: Broncos Lose All 4 QBs]

According to NFL.com’s James Palmer (on Twitter), there are people in the Broncos’ facility who have never even met Hinton. For those who are unfamiliar with Hinton — inside and outside of Denver headquarters — he’s a Wake Forest product who started out as a dual-threat QB for the Demon Deacons. Then, when an ankle injury and a suspension took him out of the equation, he converted to wide receiver. Hinton topped 1,000 yards in his senior season, leading him to a UDFA deal with the Broncos earlier this year.

Hinton hasn’t played QB in a long time and he reportedly hasn’t practiced as a passer in years. Still, he represents the Broncos’ only real option today. He’ll be backstopped by running back/emergency QB Royce Freeman, who attempted just one pass in four seasons at Oregon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

All Broncos QBs Ineligible For Week 12

The Broncos and the NFL have run into a significant problem. Jeff Driskel‘s positive COVID-19 test earlier this week will lead to an unprecedented situation.

None of the Broncos’ three other QBs will be eligible to play Sunday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles have been deemed high-risk close contacts of Driskel. The NFL forced the Broncos to pull the three passers out of practice earlier today, Mike Klis of 9News tweets.

With the Broncos having no available QBs, this certainly puts the viability of Sunday’s Denver-New Orleans game in doubt. However, this game is still on schedule for Sunday, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. This seems like a tenuous proposition, but as of now, the Broncos would be forced to deploy a true emergency quarterback. They cannot sign any free agent passer to play Sunday, due to COVID-19 protocols.

Driskel’s Thursday positive test coincided with his three non-infected teammates not wearing masks, Schefter adds (on Twitter). It is not known how long the trio went without masks, but it was evidently long enough for the NFL to sideline an entire team’s QB room. The Patriots saw Cam Newton sidelined because of the virus earlier this season, and COVID-positive Lamar Jackson will miss Tuesday’s Ravens-Steelers game — should it stay on as scheduled. But the Broncos’ predicament drags the NFL into new territory regarding the virus.

The Broncos have a wide receiver on their practice squad, Kendall Hinton, who played quarterback at Wake Forest for three seasons, Klis adds (on Twitter). Quality control coach Rob Calabrese worked in that role at practice Saturday, Klis tweets. Hinton attempted 251 career passes with the Demon Deacons, though most of them came in 2015. He ran for 390 yards and seven TDs that season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos, Garett Bolles Agree On Extension

Garett Bolles‘ contract-year emergence will transform him from a scrutinized player to the Broncos’ long-term left tackle. The Broncos announced Saturday they agreed to terms on a new deal for their breakout blocker.

It’s a four-year, $68MM deal for Bolles, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. This news comes days after Bolles indicated he wanted to stay in Denver beyond his rookie contract, though no known negotiations had transpired.

Bolles is not the NFL’s highest-paid tackle, at $17MM per year, but he now becomes its sixth-best-compensated tackle. This represents one of the most stunning contract-year developments in recent NFL history.

The 2017 first-round pick led the NFL in holding penalties by a wide margin from 2017-19 and entered this year’s training camp in a battle to keep his job. The Broncos did not pick up Bolles’ fifth-year option in May, but after 10 strong games as one of the best left tackles in the game this season, the franchise has changed its line of thinking.

Going into Week 12, Bolles grades as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 overall tackle. He has not allowed a sack this season, despite the Broncos having used three starting quarterbacks. The 28-year-old blocker has become Denver’s first long-term tackle starter since Ryan Clady and followed the former All-Pro in signing a Broncos extension. Denver has used a different right tackle starter in Week 1 of every season since 2013, but Bolles — his struggles from 2017-19 notwithstanding — has started every game since he arrived out of Utah three years ago. The Broncos already have right tackle Ja’Wuan James — a 2020 opt-out after missing most of last season — signed to a big-ticket deal.

This deal doubles as the Broncos’ first major extension for a draftee selected since Super Bowl 50. Denver kept 2016 third-rounder Justin Simmons around via franchise tag but had not previously come to a notable extension agreement with a player chosen since its February 2016 victory parade.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 11/27/20

Here are Friday’s practice squad moves:

Denver Broncos

New England Patriots

San Francisco 49ers

Tennessee Titans

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/27/20

Here are Friday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: WR Diontae Spencer; Spencer tested positive for the coronavirus.

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/25/20

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Washington Football Team

Broncos Activate LB Mark Barron From IR

It took much longer than expected, but Mark Barron is in position to make his Broncos debut. The team activated him from IR Wednesday.

The Broncos signed the former first-round pick during training camp, eyeing a potential part-time role for the veteran on a suddenly reshaped linebacking corps. Denver released longtime starter Todd Davis before the season and saw rookie Justin Strnad suffer a season-ending injury during camp. Barron, however, soon experienced injury troubles. But the former Buccaneers, Rams and Steelers starter is on track to play in Week 12.

Pittsburgh released Barron earlier this year, and he spent nearly six months in free agency. Upon signing a one-year, $2.5MM deal with the Broncos, Barron suffered a hamstring injury. During his rehab process, Barron then encountered a pectoral malady.

The former Bucs safety and longtime Rams linebacker will likely see time mixing in on a Broncos defense that has used 2019 backup Josey Jewell as a full-time player alongside top inside ‘backer Alexander Johnson. Jewell’s snap rate has risen from 20% last season to 93% this year. But with Pro Football Focus slotting Johnson and Jewell as 2020’s No. 10- and No. 26-ranked off-ball linebackers, respectively, Barron may not see as much time as initially planned.

To make room for Barron, the Broncos waived running back LeVante Bellamy. The latter has bounced on and off Denver’s active roster this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Have Not Discussed Garett Bolles Extension

A few months ago, any talk of the Broncos giving an extension to LT Garett Bolles would have seemed ridiculous. After all, Denver declined Bolles’ fifth-year option back in May, and the former first-round pick had not even come close to living up to his draft status.

But Bolles has been outstanding in 2020, ranking as Pro Football Focus’ top-rated tackle and receiving excellent marks for both his run-blocking and pass-blocking acumen. Plus, he has been called for just three holding penalties thus far, only one of which has been accepted. In his first two years as a pro, he was tied for the league lead in most accepted holding penalties, and in 2019, he was tied for sixth.

As Mike Klis of 9News.com writes, Bolles credits increased attention to his technique as one of the primary reasons for his stark improvement, along with new OC Pat Shurmur‘s pulling scheme. “I think in the past I just used my athletic ability to get the technical side of things,” Bolles said. “To the little things where taking sets barefoot in your kitchen, to watching film, watching guys, looking on the outside shoulder, hand movement and hand fights, and things like that.”

Better fundamentals have allowed the 28-year-old’s natural athleticism — which is what attracted the attention of GM John Elway to begin with — to shine through. And as he is earning just under $2MM this year, he looks like one of the best bargains in the league.

So one would think that Denver would be acting quickly to lock him up on a long-term basis, especially since the left tackle market is red-hot at the moment. But according to Klis, the club has yet to open extension talks, though that’s almost certainly due to the financial uncertainty created by COVID-19 and the fact that the salary cap is likely to decrease in 2021.

There is no indication that the Broncos are opposed to a new deal, and Bolles would certainly be receptive to one. “I mean, (a contract extension) would be nice, but it’s not up to me,” he said (via Troy Renck of Denver 7 ABC). “That’s why I hired an agent, he talks to Mr. Elway. When they want to do it, they’ll do it. That’s just how I look at it. I just want to be consistent. I have to go out there and play at a high level every single week.”

Given his past track record and the likelihood of a depressed free agent market, it would be surprising to see Bolles match or top David Bakhtiari‘s new $23MM/year deal with the Packers, and he may not hit the $20MM AAV threshold. But a surefire Pro Bowl (and perhaps First Team All-Pro) left tackle coming off a dominant season will be a highly-desirable commodity, so whether it comes from the Broncos or someone else, Bolles will be in line for a pretty sizable raise in short order.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/24/20

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Rams

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: TE Vance McDonald
  • Promoted: TE Kevin Rader

Tennessee Titans

The Jets’ addition of Adams makes a lot of sense after rookie running back La’Mical Perine suffered a high ankle sprain that is expected to sideline him for at least a couple games. A 2018 UDFA out of Notre Dame, Adams played a significant role with the Eagles as a rookie, when he started five of 14 games and carries the ball 120 times for 511 yards and three touchdowns. Despite the reasonably productive first season, he was waived at final cuts last year.