Denver Broncos Rumors & News

Broncos Sign Rookie WR Carlos Henderson

The Broncos now have their entire 2017 rookie class under contract, as they’ve agreed to terms with third-round wide receiver Carlos Henderson, according to Mike Klis of 9NEWS (Twitter link).Carlos Henderson (Vertical)

Henderson, a Louisiana Tech product, will be making the leap from Conference USA to the NFL, but he would appear to have a clear path to playing time in Denver. Aside from Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, the Broncos’ other wideouts shouldn’t post much of a threat. Jordan Taylor, Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler, and fellow rookie Isaiah McKenzie will serve as Henderson’s primary competition.

At the very least, Henderson figures to act as the Broncos’ top return man during his rookie campaign. Denver finished just 22nd in special teams DVOA a season ago, and lost 1.1 points on kick returns and 6.8 points on punt returns. Henderson, meanwhile, averaged 32.2 yards per kick return and scored two touchdowns.

Here’s an overview of the Broncos’ class:

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Broncos, T.J. Ward Talking Extension

The Broncos have engaged in “preliminary” contract negotiations with safety T.J. Ward, according to Troy Renck of Denver7. Ward is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2018.T.J. Ward (Vertical)

“I would love to finish my career here,” said Ward. “I’d like to see something get done. They have done that in the past with guys. I think I have proven myself. But if they think I need to show more, then I will just have to keep proving it to them.”

Ward, 30, originally joined the Broncos in 2014 after signing a four-year, $22.5MM deal. That pact has proven to be a bargain, as Ward has been among the league’s best safeties during that stretch. After earning Pro Bowl berths in 2014 and 2015, however, Ward posted something of a down season last year, as he graded as just the No. 50 safety among 90 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.

Denver has been proactive in locking up its secondary, as cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, plus safety Darian Stewart, are all under contract through at least the 2019 campaign. Nickel back Bradley Roby, meanwhile, is signed through 2018 after the Broncos exercised his fifth-year option.

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John Elway Expects New Contract Soon

Broncos general manager John Elway is entering a contract year, but the franchise icon expects to sign an extension by the start of the season, reports Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post (Twitter links). “Yep. I don’t think there will be any doubt,” said Elway, who added that he has no interest in leaving Denver. After thriving as the Broncos’ quarterback from 1983-1998, a stretch in which he won two Super Bowls and made nine Pro Bowls, the Hall of Famer’s success has continued with the organization away from the field. Since Elway took over as the Broncos’ GM five years ago, the club has gone 59-31 with four playoff appearances and another Super Bowl title.

Broncos’ Brandon McManus Wants New Deal

Broncos kicker Brandon McManus is the only restricted free agent yet to sign his tender, but that’s by design, as McManus hopes to receive a long-term extension, as Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post writes.Teddy Bridgewater (Vertical)

“There’s really no rush for me to sign the tender because it could go through June 15,” McManus said. “I’d love to be here as long as I can and be on a long-term deal here that gives me security. I love Denver. I love the fan base here. I would love to be here four more years so why not see what I can do?”

Denver tendered McManus at the second-round level, meaning he’ll earn a non-guaranteed base salary of $2.746MM in 2017. McManus, who is attending Broncos’ workouts despite being unsigned, didn’t generate any known interest during the restricted free agent period, so he essentially has two options: sign his tender, or sit out the season. If McManus doesn’t ink the tender by June 15, Denver can reduce his salary to 110% of his 2016 pay, which would amount to just $660K.

McManus, 25, converted 29 of 34 field goal attempts last season, and his 85.3% conversion rate ranked 17th in the NFL. He missed just one extra point, and managed 50 touchbacks on kickoffs, good for 14th in the league. Overall, the Broncos gained 1.5 points on field goals, but lost a whopping 8.6 points on kickoffs, according to Football Outsiders‘ DVOA metric.

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Top 8 Fits For Free Agent TE Gary Barnidge

Gary Barnidge was a relative no-name until the 2015 season, when — at age 30 — the 6’5″ tight end broke out for 79 receptions, 1,043 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns. Each of those totals were career-highs for Barnidge, and his yardage figure was the eight-highest single-season total for a tight end since 2010. The 2016 campaign wasn’t quite as fruitful for Barnidge, but he still managed 55 catches for 612 yards, solid numbers for a tight end in a weak Browns offense.Gary Barnidge (vertical)

There are certainly question marks that could lead a team to not pursue Barnidge. Chief among them is probably his age, as Barnidge is set to enter his age-32 season. That could conceivably make him an injury risk, although he’s appeared in all 32 possible games over the past two years. Bardidge’s blocking prowess is also a concern, as he ranked 50th out of 63 qualified tight ends in run blocking efficiency last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Still, Barnidge offers excellent receiving ability and should come relatively cheap. It’s tough to see Barnidge topping the $5MM and $5.3MM annual salaries earned by fellow tight ends Vernon Davis and Jared Cook respectively, and he likely won’t command a multi-year deal. So which NFL teams could possibly employ Barnidge in his 10th pro season? Let’s take a look…

Atlanta Falcons

Austin Hooper, the Falcons’ third-round pick in 2016, posted 271 receiving yards during his rookie campaign. That lowly figure was somehow the second-highest yardage total by an Atlanta tight end since Tony Gonzalez retired at the end of the 2013 season. Yes, the Falcons’ offense was the best in the NFL by a wide margin last year, but the unit could continue its dominance by adding another element at tight end. New offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has never worked with an elite tight end (not counting his one-game stint as O.J. Howard‘s OC at Alabama, Sarkisian’s best TE pupil was Austin Seferian-Jenkins), so it’s unclear if he can develop young options such as Hooper and 2017 fifth-rounder Eric Saubert. A veteran such as Barnidge would allow those youthful players to grow by lessening their responsibilities, at least for the upcoming season.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills were the first stop on Barnidge’s free agent tour following his release by the Browns, so Buffalo clearly has some level of interest. Charles Clay is currently atop the Bills’ tight end depth chart, but he hasn’t been worth the five-year, $38MM deal Buffalo gave him prior to the 2015 season. Despite being the fifth-highest-paid tight end in the league, Clay has finished just 12th in approximate value since joining the Bills. Buffalo is stuck with him through at least 2018, as a 2016 contract restructure makes release unpalatable. Clay is a much better run blocker than Barnidge, so the latter would be able to play as a move tight end in the Bills’ offense. Given that Buffalo is fielding one of the league’s worst wide receiving groups, the club needs all the weapons it can get.

Carolina Panthers

After visiting with the Bills, Barnidge indicated he might take a meeting with the Panthers, and although it’s unclear if that visit ever took place, it stands to reason Carolina is still eyeing a tight end addition. Greg Olsen, clearly, is the No. 1 option for the Panthers, but the team’s depth at the position is shockingly sparse. Linked to a number of tight ends during the predraft process, Carolina ultimately stood pat, leaving only Ed Dickson and Chris Manhertz behind Olsen. Dickson, for his part, is essentially a non-factor in the receiving game and isn’t a great blocker — the Panthers could release him with a minimal dead cap charge. Barnidge spent the first four years of his career in Carolina, and a homecoming would make a lot of sense.

Cincinnati Bengals

Unquestionably one of the league’s more talented tight ends when healthy, Tyler Eifert just can’t seem to stay on the field. He’s never appeared in all 16 games, and has missed more than eight games in two of the past three seasons. Eifert’s 52-reception, 13-touchdown 2015 campaign showed him at his best, but he simply can’t be relied on. And the Bengals’ backup options are lackluster, as well, as C.J. Uzomah (25 catches, 234 yards) and Tyler Kroft (10, 92) struggled when asked to fill in for Eifert last season. Cincinnati has already bolstered its offense this offseason by adding wide receiver John Ross and running back Joe Mixon, and Barnidge would give the club another target and (much-needed) depth.

Denver Broncos

Denver has reached out to Barnidge in recent days, and the Broncos have a level of familiarity with Barnidge given that many of their coaches — notably offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and tight ends coach Jeff Davidson — worked with Barnidge in Carolina. While the tight end position isn’t quite the integral position in McCoy’s offense that it was in former head coach Gary Kubiak‘s, Denver still needs an infusion of talent at the position. The selection Jake Butt, of course, marked the initial step in the Broncos’ tight end revamp, but the former Michigan Wolverine may not be ready for Week 1 as he recovers from a torn ACL. Barnidge would instantly become Denver’s No. 1 tight end if signed, although head coach Vance Joseph said he’s currently pleased with the Broncos’ tight end group, tweets Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Like the Panthers, the Jaguars may try to set up a visit with Barnidge, and Barnidge confirmed that he has in fact heard from the Jacksonville staff. The Jaguars parted ways with free agent bust Julius Thomas this offseason, shipping him to Miami for a late-round pick, but the club’s only addition at the position was the signing of former Raider Mychal Rivera, who hasn’t topped 300 yards receiving since 2014. Incumbent Marcedes Lewis continues to strike new deals with the Jaguars (the latest a three-year, $12MM pact) despite last being productive at the turn of the decade, so Barnidge would represent an immediate upgrade for quarterback Blake Bortles & Co.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings may have landed a draft steal in Virginia Tech Bucky Hodges, who was projected to come off the board on Day 2 but lasted until the sixth round. Still, Hodges is more an oversized wideout than a typical tight end, as Lance Zierlein of NFL.com wrote in Hodges’ predraft profile. No. 1 tight end Kyle Rudolph posted the best season of his career in 2016, as he hauled in 83 passes for 840 yards, so Barnidge would clearly be the No. 2 in Minnesota. Given quarterback Sam Bradford‘s proclivity for the short passing game, adding another tight end who can play over the middle wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Pittsburgh Steelers

After releasing Ladarius Green last week, the Steelers appear set to roll with Jesse James, Xavier Grimble, and TE/FB David Johnson at tight end for the 2017 season. Pittsburgh didn’t address the position during the draft, which could mean the club is content with its current options. James, specifically, posted a nice season last year (39 receptions, 338 yards), but it’s hard to argue that he’s true No. 1 tight end for a contending team. Clearly, with Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and (hopefully) Martavis Bryant in the fold, the Steelers don’t exactly need a dynamic weapon at tight end, but Barnidge would give the Steelers a veteran option for at least one year.

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More Details Emerge On Charles' Deal

More details are available about Jamaal CharlesBroncos contract, courtesy of 9News’ Mike Klis. The former two-time All-Pro running back signed a one-year deal worth $1MM base value, with the pact including several incentives, as Klis reported Sunday. More specifically, the former Chiefs starter has escalators tied to his performance and the Broncos’, with that portion of the contract totaling $1.25MM if all are achieved.

Should the running back gain 500 all-purpose yards, he will earn $100K. For surpassing the 750-yard barrier, it’s a $300K bump. For going over 1,000 yards from scrimmage, the 30-year-old Charles will see $500K. If Charles manages to turn back the clock and overcome a string of knee issues, Kansas City’s all-time leading rusher stands to earn $1MM in incentives by exceeding 1,400 yards from scrimmage. Charles has finished with 1,300-plus yards from scrimmage five times, but the last came in 2014. Charles hitting these incentives and the Broncos making the playoffs would continually bring bigger bonuses. The 1,000-yard playoffs bonus is $650K, for example.

The Broncos took out waivers on both of Charles’ knees, Klis reports. Each was operated on last year due to problems in each of the back’s menisci. This came after Charles underwent reconstructive knee surgery in 2015.

  • The Broncos handed out a $20K guarantee to UDFA safety Jamal Carter, and Klis reports that agreement — split up into a $10K signing bonus and $10K base guarantee — is the most the team has promised a UDFA rookie in years. Carter attended Miami and was viewed as a possible Day 3 pick. The Broncos also gave a $12,500K signing bonus to fellow UDFA safety Orion Stewart (Baylor), which is the largest bonus the team has authorized to a post-draft signee since return man Isaiah Burse received that $12.5K amount in 2014. Denver spent two draft choices on safeties last year, in Justin Simmons and Will Parks, and has Darian Stewart signed long-term. T.J. Ward is entering a contract year. Denver also gave defensive tackle Tyrique Jarrett (Pitt) $10K to sign, per Klis.

Broncos Reach Out To TE Gary Barnidge

Gary Barnidge left his early May visit with the Bills without a contract and roughly three weeks later he remains on the open market. Things could be picking up for the tight end, however. Barnidge tells SiriusXM (Twitter link) that he has heard from some of his old coaches that are now with the Broncos. Gary Barnidge

The Broncos added a big name at tight end when they selected Michigan’s Jake Butt in the fifth round. However, he has torn an ACL in each knee with the latest one happening during the Orange Bowl this past January. While Butt recuperates, the Broncos project to go into September with Virgil Green, Jeff Heuerman, and A.J. Derby as their top three tight ends. Barnidge could be added to the mix to help push Derby and/or Henry Krieger-Coble for the final TE spot on the 53-man roster.

Around the time of his visit to Buffalo, it was also reported that meetings with the Jaguars and Panthers could be on the docket. Barnidge confirmed that he has heard from the Jaguars, but it’s not immediately clear whether the Panthers still have interest.

Barnidge’s earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2015 as he hauled in 79 receptions and 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns. Last year, he caught 55 passes for 612 yards and two touchdowns for the Browns.

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Details On Jamaal Charles’ Broncos Contract

While the maximum value of running back Jamaal Charlesone-year contract with the Broncos is $3.75MM, the veteran runner could struggle to reach that total, as the as the majority of that figure can only be attained through incentives, Mike Klis of 9News details.Jamaal Charles (Vertical)

As Klis previously reported, Charles is scheduled to earn a veteran minimum base salary of $900K plus a $100K workout bonus, the latter of which is the only guaranteed portion of the contract. However, if Charles makes Denver’s Week 1 roster, he’ll bring in an additional $250K bonus. The 30-year-old can also earn $1.25MM in per-game active roster bonuses, per Klis.

Another $1.25MM is available for Charles through incentives. He’ll earn that entire total if the Broncos make the postseason and he reaches 1,000 all-purpose yards, according to Klis. Charles’ first incentive barrier is 500 all-purpose yards, although it’s unclear what financial figure he’ll reach if he meets that target.

For what it’s worth, Klis recently gave Charles only a 50-50 chance of making the Broncos’ roster. Other running backs on Denver’s depth chart include C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker, Juwan Thompson, and De’Angelo Henderson.

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Renck: Siemian Early QB Favorite

  • The Broncos will have one of the league’s most interesting position battles take place this summer when Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch vie for the starting quarterback job. The two bring disparate profiles to the competition, with Lynch being a first-round pick and Siemian coming out of nowhere as a 2015 seventh-rounder to seize the job last year. Siemian is the favorite in Denver7 reporter Troy Renck’s eyes (Twitter link). While Lynch not commandeering the job over Siemian given the investment would be interesting, Renck notes Siemian should have more leeway to audible in Mike McCoy‘s offense. Lynch has “made strides,” however, which should create a unique duel. Going into Denver’s offseason program, NFL.com’s James Palmer reported Siemian had the early edge. Vance Joseph subsequently described this as a 50-50 situation.

John Elway Expects Broncos To Make Playoffs In 2017

The Broncos entered the offseason with questions at two of the game’s most important positions – quarterback and left tackle – and that remains the case, writes Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com. But general manager John Elway, who’s sticking with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch under center and drafted ex-Utah left tackle Garett Bolles in the first round, expects the Broncos to return to the playoffs in 2017. “I like where we are. I like where we’ll be if we continue to work,” said Elway, whose club went 9-7 last season and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Elway added that the Broncos are “a pretty good football team,” which led him to trade two draft picks and reduce his selection total from 10 to eight. “We had the meeting before the draft started … and we started counting numbers,” Elway explained. “It’s going to be hard to make our football team. We’ve got a lot of good football players, so that’s why we have to be that good in the draft because we’ve got to find guys that can come in and compete and have a chance to make our football team.”