Broncos Rumors

Broncos Audition Shaquem Griffin

Shaquem Griffin will audition for the Broncos’ during their minicamp this week (Twitter link via Mike Klis of 9News). Griffin has reportedly drawn interest from multiple teams this offseason, but this marks his first known tryout. 

Griffin, the twin brother of cornerback Shaquill Griffin, has been one of the NFL’s most inspiring stories. Despite losing his left hand at the age of 4, he earned first-team all-American Athletic Conference at Central Florida. Then, he heard his name called in 2018 when the Seahawks drafted him in the fifth round.

Griffin has spent most of his career as a special teamer with some time as a true linebacker. Now, he’s hoping to transition to a full-time edge rusher. He’s suited up for a total of 46 games for the Seahawks across three seasons with one start — against the Broncos in the 2018 season opener. All in all, he’s notched 25 total tackles, one sack, and one pass defensed.

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Deshaun Watson Still Interested In Broncos

The Broncos have become the most rumored Aaron Rodgers trade destination. No close second has emerged. Prior to Rodgers-Broncos connections, Deshaun Watson loomed on the team’s radar. The younger of these Pro Bowl quarterbacks remains interested in a trade to the AFC West.

Ex-Watson Texans teammate Kareem Jackson said, during an appearance on Aqib Talib‘s Catchin’ Fades podcast (audio link), Denver is where Watson wants to end up. This might be a slight exaggeration, with NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport noting Watson remains open to being traded to the Broncos but does not necessarily have them as his unquestioned No. 1 destination (Twitter link).

[RELATED: Texans’ Deshaun Watson Still Wants Trade]

Jackson said earlier this offseason Watson was interested in the Broncos, and a subsequent report indicated the Texans quarterback was intrigued by Denver’s situation. In speaking to Watson in recent weeks, Jackson said the three-time Pro Bowl QB expressed interest in Denver in March and that Colorado remains where he wants to play. Per Jackson, Watson inquired about Jackson’s free agency plans — between the Broncos cutting him and re-signing him in March — and after Jackson re-signed asked the safety to communicate to the Broncos his own interest in the team. Watson has a no-trade clause, once this matter again becomes relevant.

Prospective Watson trades, of course, have been on the backburner for several weeks. Twenty-two women have accused Watson of sexual misconduct, with some alleging sexual assault took place during massage sessions. Watson has been linked to nearly 50 masseuses, with some coming out in his defense. The 25-year-old standout is a candidate for the Commissioner’s Exempt List and a suspension, which certainly stands to reduce his trade appeal.

The Houston Police Department is investigating Watson. So is the NFL. It is highly unlikely a team trades for Watson until more clarity emerges about his status for the 2021 season. Depositions in Watson’s civil case are slated to begin in September, though the quarterback is not set to be deposed until after the 2021 NFL season.

While the Broncos expressed interest when Watson was merely a disgruntled NFLer and not at the center of multiple investigations, it is unclear if they remain one of his suitors. The Panthers also appeared prepared to be more aggressive than the Broncos on the Watson front. Carolina ended up trading 2020 starter Teddy Bridgewater to Denver but did so after acquiring Sam Darnold. Although the Panthers picked up Darnold’s fifth-year option, Watson could still be on the team’s radar. The other teams most closely linked to Watson this offseason — the Dolphins, Jets and 49ers — have top-five picks invested at quarterback.

Watson and Rodgers are each represented by the Athletes First agency, CBS Sports’ Joel Corry notes (via Twitter). Rodgers placed the Broncos as an acceptable destination in April and remains interested in the Packers trading him to Denver. Watson is 12 years younger, but the Broncos prefer Rodgers as a trade target. Considering Rodgers’ accomplishments and Watson’s off-field issues, this makes sense. Neither the Packers nor Texans have relented, though Houston’s moves — signing Tyrod Taylor, drafting Davis Mills in Round 3 — point to the franchise preparing not to have him this season.

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Jim Fassel Dies At 71

Jim Fassel has died of a heart attack at the age of 71 (via the Los Angeles Times). Fassel coached in the NFL from 1991 through 2006 and is known best for his time with the Giants.

Fassel broke into the pro ranks with the Giants and became one of three head coaches in franchise history to lead the team to a Super Bowl. In 1997, his first year as the Giants’ head coach, Fassel was named the NFL’s Coach of the Year. From 97 through ’03, Fassel guided the Giants to three playoff appearances. All in all, Fassel went 58-53-1 as the Giants’ HC.

After his first Giants stint, Fassel served as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator (1993-1994), Raiders’ quarterbacks coach (1995) and Cardinals’ OC (1996). Then, after his six-year run as the Giants’ head coach, he spent three years with the Ravens, including two as their OC. Fassel’s last coaching position was with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League. The UFL ceased in 2012, but Fassel continued to live in Vegas throughout his golden years.

Although Fassel fell short of a ring during his six-year tenure as head coach, he’ll be fondly remembered for igniting the 2000 Giants in the face of critics.

This is a poker game, and I’m shoving my chips to the middle of the table,” Fassel told reporters in November of that year. “I’m raising the ante, and anybody who wants in, get in. Anybody who wants out can get out.”

Broncos Sign LB Peter Kalambayi

The Broncos added linebacker Peter Kalambayi today, the team announced. To make room on the roster, the Broncos waived defensive back Chris Cooper.

Kalambayi, a 2018 sixth-round pick out of Stanford, ended up seeing time in 41 games for the Texans between 2018 and 2020. He had 31 combined tackles during his rookie and sophomore seasons, and while he saw the majority of his field time on special teams, he still played 122 defensive snaps during those two campaigns. The linebacker saw a lesser role on defense in 2020, appearing in only 10 snaps. As a result, Kalambayi was limited to only a pair of tackles.

The 25-year-old was waived by Houston back in February. He’ll compete with the likes of Pita Taumoepenu and seventh-round rookie Jonathon Cooper for a role as a weakside linebacker and special teamer.

Cooper, a former undrafted free agent out of Stony Brook, has yet to see time in an NFL game. He’s had stints on the practice squads of the Bengals, Chiefs, Falcons, and Broncos.

Former Broncos OL Ja’Wuan James Files Grievance

Offensive lineman Ja’Wuan James has filed a grievance against the Broncos (via PFT). The offensive lineman is seeking to recover $10MM of his 2021 salary, plus $5MM in 2022 salary.

James’ 2021 pay was guaranteed for skill and injury while $5MM of his ’22 salary was guaranteed for injury. The Broncos say they owe James nothing, because his workout injury happened outside of the team facility. James, meanwhile, contends that he was working out in a fashion that was “specifically authorized” by the club. Furthermore, he was working out with other Broncos teammates. And, on top of all of that, James claims that the Broncos’ facilities were not in compliance with Colorado’s COVID-19 safety guidelines.

In the filing, James’ attorneys noted a May 5 NFL memo which noted that workout injuries outside of facilities “specifically or as specifically authorized by his club are considered ‘football-related injuries.’” The Broncos placed James on the reserve/non-football injury list two days later. And, on May 14, the Broncos cut James.

In response, the Broncos will likely argue that his non-facility workout was strictly voluntary. And, as a result, they’re not responsible.

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Details On Fleming's Broncos Deal

Latest On Packers, Aaron Rodgers

The June 1 date in which an Aaron Rodgers trade becomes a less costly transaction for the Packers looms, and shortly after a report indicated the team is not budging on its Green Bay-or-nothing Rodgers stance, the reigning MVP is not backing down, either.

Rodgers is very likely to push his Wisconsin exit strategy into the late summer, with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports noting some close to the future Hall of Famer insist nothing has changed for him; Rodgers remains adamant he will not return to the Packers. This stalemate has shown no signs of ending, but the Packers may not believe Rodgers is 100% committed to his current quest.

While a Carson Palmer-style pseudo-retirement has entered the equation at points during this saga, the Packers may not be keen on letting this reach the stage the Bengals did 10 years ago. The Packers would trade Rodgers if they truly believed he was dead-set against playing for them again, Matt Schneidman of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Recouping the nearly $30MM from a Rodgers retirement would not satisfy the team compared to the draft/player haul a trade would net.

As of Memorial Day, GM Brian Gutekunst is not there. His no-trade stance remains, Schneidman adds. This certainly points to the Packers believing they can salvage this situation, but the team preferring a monster trade haul to forcing Rodgers into a retirement/hiatus is noteworthy.

With Rodgers having rebounded from multiple unremarkable seasons to win his third MVP, the 37-year-old passer has considerable trade value at this point. A realistic trade package is believed to require multiple first-round picks and one or multiple established starters. With or without a quarterback coming back in a trade, the Packers can be expected to land a haul for Rodgers — if they decide to entertain offers.

The team most closely connected to a Rodgers deal, the Broncos have yet to discuss the 16-year veteran with the Packers since a short conversation on the draft’s opening night. Like the 49ers, the Broncos reached out to the Packers the day this news broke, but Mike Klis of 9News notes no calls have transpired between teams ahead of the June 1 date. Denver’s current plan is a Drew LockTeddy Bridgewater competition, which easily makes for the AFC West’s least inspiring quarterback situation. That said, the Broncos have Rodgers on their radar. His following Peyton Manning‘s late-career path should continue to be a talking point as long as this impasse lasts.

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Broncos, Saints Tried To Claim LB Joe Bachie

Before getting claimed by the Bengals, linebacker Joe Bachie generated interest from some additional teams. ESPN’s Field Yates reports (via Twitter) that the Broncos and Saints also tried to claim the 23-year-old. Bachie was waived by the Eagles earlier this week.

It makes sense that the Saints had interest in the linebacker. After the Michigan State product went undrafted in 2020, New Orleans made it a priority to quickly sign him. He spent much of the season on the Saints practice squad before he was snagged by Philly in December. He ultimately saw time in four games for the Eagles, appearing in 74 snaps (including 56 special teams snaps).

Bachie has a standout stint at Michigan State, finishing his career with 285 tackles, eight sacks, and five forced fumbles. He earned third-team All Big Ten honors during his senior campaign after compiling 71 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss. However, the prospect was suspended after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, and that revelation also killed his draft stock.

Considering his production in college, it’s not a surprise that so many teams had their eye on Bachie, especially since the linebacker now has a year of experience on his resume. Bachie should have a chance at competing for a job in Cincinnati. Outside of Germaine Pratt, none of the Bengals linebackers have much starting experience, so it’s not like Bachie has a huge uphill battle. He’ll compete with the likes of Akeem Davis-Gaither, Logan Wilson, Markus Bailey, Jordan Evans, and Keandre Jones for snaps.

Von Miller Eyeing Another Broncos Deal

After missing all of the 2020 season due to a torn ankle tendon, Von Miller has been on the field for the Broncos‘ OTA sessions this week. New Broncos GM George Paton went down to the wire on picking up the All-Pro pass rusher’s 2021 option but ended up doing so. Miller is going into a contract year, having played five seasons on the then-defender-record six-year, $114.1MM deal he inked in 2016. Uncertainty about his future notwithstanding, the 32-year-old linebacker would like to stay in Denver on another contract.

I always had an internal faith that I would be here. I said a long time ago that I want to be a Bronco for life. I always felt like that even though the business and all of this stuff,” Miller said, via DenverBroncos.com’s Aric DiLalla.

This will be a pivotal year for the Broncos’ all-time sack leader, considering a possible free agency bid looms in 2022. Miller has said he plans to play several more seasons. He and Bradley Chubb have not worked together for a lengthy stretch since 2018, but the duo will obviously be counted on to spearhead a talented defense. Here is more from Denver and the latest from the rest of the AFC West:

  • Chubb recently underwent an ankle procedure that is expected to sideline him until training camp. Vic Fangio said the team thought the injury, which shelved Chubb for last season’s final two games, would heal without surgery. The third-year Broncos HC also indicated bone spurs bothered Chubb, leading to the surgery, and that doctors believed Chubb would be sidelined until mid-August. Evidently, he is set to beat that timetable and return by the start of camp. The Broncos recently picked up the outside linebacker’s fifth-year option, locking him down through 2022.
  • Details on the Broncos’ Bobby Massie contract are in; the pact, per usual, is a bit team-friendlier than initially reported. The reported $4MM deal is actually a one-year, $2.5MM accord, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. The Broncos are guaranteeing the longtime Bears right tackle $1.58MM, Klis tweets, and the previously reported $4MM figure includes a $1.5MM incentive package. Massie and fellow May signing Cameron Fleming are set to compete for the right tackle job that became vacant after Ja’Wuan James‘ Achilles tear.

Teddy Bridgewater Discusses Broncos QB Competition

The Broncos may have made a trade for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, but that doesn’t mean the veteran is going to run away with the starting gig. Rather, he’ll have to compete with 2020 starter Drew Lock, with head coach Vic Fangio recently saying that the two signal-callers will split reps during OTAs and training camp.

[RELATED: Broncos To Split QB Reps 50-50 Between Lock, Bridgewater]

While Bridgewater has the experience on his side, he’s not taking anything for granted as he competes with Lock for the top spot on the depth chart. Rather, the 28-year-old said he’s always had the mindset of having to compete for his job.

“Every day I wake up, I consider myself competing for my job,” Bridgewater told the team’s website. “I think that’s the mindset of everyone who plays this game. Whether I was penciled in as being the starter or if I had to compete, my mindset is this is a competition. … In this league, so much happens.

“Of course, that’s my mindset [to start], but at the same time, I have to take it one day at a time and continue to be the best teammate I can be today and let tomorrow take care of itself.”

Lock only has 18 career starts to his credit, but it’s been a mixed bag when he’s under center. In 13 games last season, the Missouri product threw 16 TD passes against a league-worst 15 picks, leading to a poor 75.4 quarterback rating. Bridgewater was a a little better in his lone season in Carolina, but his 2020 campaign can fairly be characterized as disappointing as well, especially when measured against the three-year, $63MM contract he signed with the Panthers last offseason. Bridgewater ultimately finished the campaign having completed 69.1-percent of his passes for 3,733 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.

For what it’s worth, Bridgewater doesn’t have much catching up to do when it comes to scheme, as the quarterback worked with Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur when the two were in Minnesota.

“It’s helped a lot,” Bridgewater said. “There is some carryover from my days in Minnesota, but at the same time, a lot has changed. I’ve been in a couple of different systems. I see players that I’m familiar with and it’s been a smooth transition with the install.”

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