Broncos Rumors

Latest On Broncos’ QB Plans

Several teams have already made big splashes under center this offseason, but the Broncos have been mostly quiet. That could change soon.

Denver “isn’t sitting still at the position,” Albert Breer of SI.com writes. Breer lays out details of the Broncos’ pursuits we haven’t heard before, including the previously unreported full offer they made for Matthew Stafford. The Broncos apparently did in fact offer the ninth overall pick to the Lions, but they wanted a second-rounder back in return which quelled those talks.

Breer thinks they’ll add competition for Drew Lock in one form or another, and he mentions the Panthers’ Teddy Bridgewater as a potential option. As he points out, new Broncos GM George Paton was in Minnesota when the Vikings drafted Bridgewater in the first-round. On that note, Breer has some interesting thoughts on the makeup of Denver’s new front office.

The fact that the team isn’t committing to Lock is “a pretty decent sign that John Elway has truly moved into the background,” Breer writes. He also thinks Denver’s lack of real interest in Sam Darnold is a telling sign that Elway isn’t calling the shots, since Elway was infatuated with Darnold coming out of college in 2018.

The team hired Paton to be GM earlier this offseason, with Elway getting elevated to President of Football Operations. At the time there were murmurs about how much power Elway would actually be ceding and how much he would still control the organization, but it sounds like he truly has relinquished the reins.

Broncos Re-Sign Nate Hairston

It’s officially official. The Broncos have re-signed defensive back Nate Hairston, according to the league’s transactions wire.

Hairston, 26, was released by the Broncos on Thursday, but he wasn’t gone for long. The Broncos released him only as a procedural move — likely in order rework his contract.

Hairston, a 2017 fifth-round pick out of Temple, appeared in 27 games with the Colts through his first two seasons in the NFL, compiling 65 tackles, two sacks, and an interception. He was traded to the Jets for a conditional sixth-rounder in 2019 He wound up starting six of his eleven appearances for Gang Green that season.

The 26-year-old saw two games with the Jets last year before being dropped in October. He went to spend time with the Ravens’ practice squad before coming to Denver towards the end of the season. Hairston suited up for the Broncos’ final three games, primarily on special teams. Now, he’ll battle for his spot in camp behind newcomers Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller. Of course, the cornerback group could also get more crowded between now and the fall — especially if the Broncos tap Virginia Tech Hokies cornerback Caleb Farley with the No. 9 overall pick.

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Broncos Loom As Trade-Up Candidate?

  • Washington looms as a team that appears interested in trading up for a quarterback, but the team may have company. The Broncos and Patriots loom as other candidates to move up the board for a passer, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (video link). A trade-up maneuver would not cost the Broncos (No. 9) what the Patriots (No. 15) would have to pay. New England is usually big on trading back and accumulating picks, but the franchise zagged by splurging in free agency this offseason. And its QB situation is considerably different from what it was when Bill Belichick trade-downs were commonplace. Both teams would benefit from the run of quarterbacks pushing non-QB prospects down the board, but neither appears to have a viable long-term answer. The Broncos are planning to add to their Drew Lock-centered QB room and discussed Matthew Stafford and Sam Darnold. But Lock may remain unchallenged going into the draft.

Broncos Expressed Interest In Sam Darnold

Add another team to the list of organizations that apparently expressed interest in Sam Darnold. Albert Breer of SI.com writes that the Broncos had touched base with the Jets about a potential trade for the quarterback. However, the reporter described Denver’s interest in the former third-overall pick as “tepid.”

[RELATED: 49ers, Washington Expressed Interest In Sam Darnold]

We heard last month that the Broncos weren’t interested in Darnold, although that report indicated that the organization’s lack of interest was more about the asking price (a second rounder) than the player. The Jets were presumably eyeing Denver’s pick at No. 40; Darnold was ultimately traded to the Panthers for a deal that was highlighted by a 2022 second-round pick.

Of course, in hindsight, it’s not a huge surprise that the Broncos reached out to the Jets. For starters, going into the 2018 draft, previous Broncos GM (and current president of football operations) John Elway was interested in selecting the quarterback. Further, the organization has seemingly been on the hunt for a quarterback all offseason; the team reportedly showed interest in Matthew Stafford, Deshaun Watson, and Andy Dalton.

Breer provided another interesting note on the Darnold trade, writing that the Jets received an intriguing offer for the quarterback in early March, but the team wasn’t yet convinced that they were going to take a quarterback with the second-overall pick.

“It was a strong offer,” GM Joe Douglas told Breer. “We told them, Look, there’s still a lot of boxes left to check. And we just don’t feel comfortable, in case something happens with one of the top two guys, we don’t want to get caught in a bad situation, like one of two guys fails a physical and then we don’t have Sam. So we didn’t do anything.”

Douglas noted that eight teams ultimately inquired on Darnold, with the Panthers offer eventually emerging from the pack.

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CB Nate Hairston Released By Broncos, Expected To Re-Sign

Nate Hairston is hitting free agency…temporarily. The Broncos released the defensive back today, per the NFL’s transaction report (and passed along by Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle on Twitter). However, the cornerback is expected to land back with the Broncos tomorrow, with Mike Klis of 9News in Denver tweeting that this was merely a “procedural move.”

Hairston, a 2017 fifth-round pick out of Temple, appeared in 27 games with the Colts through his first two seasons in the NFL, compiling 65 tackles, two sacks, and an interception. He was traded to the Jets for a conditional sixth-rounder in 2019, and he ended up starting six of his 11 appearances for New York that season.

The 26-year-old caught on with the Jets again to start the 2020 campaign, and he appeared in two games before getting cut in October. Hairston spent the next two months of the Ravens practice squad before he was scooped up by Denver in mid-December. He appeared in each of the Broncos final three games, mostly on special teams.

Hairston will still probably have to battle for a job in camp, especially after the Broncos added cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller last month.

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Broncos To Sign Shamar Stephen

The Broncos have already made several moves in the secondary this offseason, and now they’re addressing the defensive front. Denver has agreed to terms on a deal with defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, a source told Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post (Twitter link).

There’s some familiarity here, as new Broncos GM George Paton came over from Minnesota, where Stephen has spent most of his career. Stephen was drafted in the seventh-round back in 2014, and was with the Vikings for his first four seasons. He signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks in 2018 before returning home in 2019 with a three-year, $12.45MM contract from the Vikings.

He made it through two years of that pact before being released last month. He started all 16 games for Minnesota last year, racking up 34 tackles and a half sack while playing just over 60 percent of the defensive snaps. He’s started 65 games in his seven-year career, including at least 14 in each of the past three.

Dre’Mont Jones, Shelby Harris, and nose tackle Mike Purcell currently slot in as the three starters up front in Denver’s 3-4 defense. Stephen could play either outside or inside and will presumably fill a rotational role behind those three guys.

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Broncos In Play For QB Trade-Up Move?

For several months, the Broncos have been linked to adding a quarterback that would at least provide Drew Lock with competition. No such move has transpired, but James Palmer of NFL.com notes GM George Paton is doing extensive research on this year’s crop of QB prospects (video link). Paton attended Trey Lance‘s pro day and mentioned last month that the team will consider a passer at No. 9 overall. However, Palmer expects the Broncos to also be in play for a trade-up — should the team become infatuated with one of the available arms.

While the Broncos are doing homework on all five of the top quarterbacks, they realistically only have a shot at two of them. This draft is, as of now, expected to begin with Trevor Lawrence going to the Jaguars and Zach Wilson heading to New York. Now in possession of the No. 3 overall pick, the 49ers have been linked to Mac Jones more so than Lance or Justin Fields. The Broncos believe Lock will improve next season and do not want to make a quarterback transaction for the sake of making one. Lock was without top receiver Courtland Sutton for most of last season and was transitioning to a new offense without the benefit of onsite offseason work, but he ranked 29th in QBR and led the league in INTs despite missing three games.

Broncos, 49ers Showed Interest In QB Andy Dalton

Andy Dalton had multiple suitors before joining the Bears. Both the Broncos and 49ers expressed interest in the veteran quarterback before he signed with Chicago, writes Dan Pompei of The Athletic.

Dalton ultimately inked a one-year, $10MM deal with the Bears, a contract the other reported suitors were unwilling to match. Per Pompei, the Bears also promised the 33-year-old that he’d have the inside track at the starting gig, a commitment that neither the Broncos nor 49ers could offer.

Still, Denver’s interest in Dalton isn’t that surprising, as the organization has seemingly been connected to every available quarterback (except, reportedly, Sam Darnold). The team made an offer for Matthew Stafford, and they were planning to pursue Deshaun Watson before his off-field conduct began to surface. Dalton presumably would have competed with Drew Lock, the league-leader in interceptions this past season, for the starting gig.

The 49ers’ interest is more of a surprise, and it could be a bit telling. San Francisco has since traded for the third-overall pick, and considering the draft capital that they surrendered, they’ll presumably select a rookie quarterback at that spot. The front office has since committed to incumbent Jimmy Garoppolo as their starter in 2021 and their stopgap until the rookie QB is ready to step in, and it sounds like the veteran has yet to hit the trade block. The 49ers’ interest in Dalton could be a sign that the team was indeed considering trades for Garoppolo, as three (somewhat) starting-caliber quarterbacks would have been redundant.

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Broncos Not Interested In Sam Darnold?

As teams in similar positions added quarterbacks in free agency or via trade, the Broncos have stood pat. They are planning to acquire a veteran quarterback, but Sam Darnold might not be on GM George Paton‘s radar.

The Broncos have not expressed interest in the Jets passer this offseason, at least not at the price the Jets may be seeking, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. While rumors of the Jets being able to fetch a first-round pick for Darnold have not surfaced in months, a second-rounder may be in play. The Broncos, however, are not believed to view Darnold as enough of an upgrade to part with a Round 2 pick, Renck adds. With the Broncos holding a high second-round pick (No. 40), it makes sense they would not part with that choice in such a trade.

Going into the 2018 draft, previous Broncos GM John Elway was interested in Darnold. However, the Broncos did not trade up from their No. 5 overall pick (Bradley Chubb) and saw the Jets draft the USC product. The team had then just signed Case Keenum, who became the fourth quarterback to start for Denver since Peyton Manning‘s retirement. The Broncos have now started 10 QBs over the past five seasons.

Drew Lock remains in line to start for the Broncos. He ranked 29th in QBR last season and led the NFL in interceptions, throwing 15 picks despite missing three games and much of Week 2. Darnold, however, ranked last (33rd) among qualified quarterbacks in QBR in 2020.

The Broncos made an offer for Matthew Stafford, but it was not on the level of the Panthers or Washington’s bids, and were planning to pursue Deshaun Watson — prior to the quarterback’s off-field issues surfacing. Paton indicated trades would be an option for the team. Gardner Minshew has drawn trade interest, and Nick Foles would seemingly be another option as a veteran who could join Lock. The 49ers have insisted they have Jimmy Garoppolo in their 2021 plans, though their trade to No. 3 overall could point Garoppolo elsewhere.

While the Jets’ plans are not known, they are currently expected to select Zach Wilson at No. 2 overall. With the Jets set to either trade Darnold or that pick, the Broncos loom as an obvious candidate to acquire the three-year veteran. But they may not take that route.

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Broncos Were Interested In Mitchell Trubisky?

Former Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky joined the Bills on a modest one-year deal earlier this month, but the former No. 2 overall pick will be the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart behind Josh Allen. One league source tells Ben Volin of the Boston Globe that he was surprised by Trubisky’s decision to sign with Buffalo, because the Broncos had shown interest.

With the Bills, Trubisky will not have the opportunity to start unless Allen should suffer an injury that forces him to miss time. In Denver, he would have battled with third-year pro Drew Lock to become the starting signal-caller for a team with an intriguing collection of skill position talent and a potentially top-flight defense.

Obviously, the fact that the Broncos showed interest does not mean that they extended a contract offer. But it’s not as though Trubisky broke the bank on his contract with the Bills, and if he could have signed with Denver on even a veteran minimum pact, it might have been a good move for him as he seeks to re-establish himself as a legitimate starting quarterback. After all, Lock has mostly struggled through his first two years in the league, and new GM George Paton has said that he wants to bring in a veteran passer and may consider a collegiate QB with the No. 9 overall pick in this year’s draft. Clearly, Paton — who considered a trade for Matthew Stafford — is not committed to having Lock open the 2021 season under center.

In any event, Trubisky will attempt to put on quality tape in the preseason as a member of the Bills, and Paton’s search for competition for Lock continues. As Volin observes, the Broncos are a logical landing spot for Jimmy Garoppolo, but even after the 49ers’ blockbuster trade to acquire the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft, it has been reported that San Francisco intends to keep Garoppolo this season.

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