Broncos center Matt Paradis said the team has not begun negotiations on a contract extension yet, but he would welcome those talks as he wants to stick around beyond 2018 (Twitter link via Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic). Paradis signed a restricted free agent tender with the team earlier this offseason, keeping him under contract for one more year at a rate of $2.9MM. Paradis, 29 in October, has had operations on both hips, but has not missed a snap since taking over at center in 2015. The Broncos would ostensibly like to hold on to Paradis, though other impending free agents such as cornerback Bradley Roby will be a higher priority.
As for the Chiefs, Watkins justifying the contract could be difficult, as Corry writes, since the newcomer may be the No. 4 option in his next offense. Kelce and Kareem Hunt are entrenched as the top components of Kansas City’s attack, and Tyreek Hill put together a strong 2017 featuring 1,183 air yards and seven touchdowns. Watkins caught 39 passes for 583 yards last season, and his career-best numbers were 1,047 and nine with the 2015 Bills. Hill becomes extension-eligible after this season and his contract expires after 2019. Those talks could be tricky if he outproduces Watkins this season. Only two teams — the Packers and Broncos — are paying two wideouts eight figures annually, and the Chiefs could be set to encounter an interesting dilemma once Hill talks begin.
- Bruce Irvin played as a 4-3 outside linebacker the past two seasons with the Raiders, but new DC Paul Guenther is moving him to defensive end, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter). Irvin often played end during his first two seasons in Oakland, but did so in sub-packages while lining up as a stand-up ‘backer in most base sets, similar to the Broncos’ usage of Von Miller from 2011-14. Irvin began his career as a defensive end before the Seahawks relocated him. Now that Irvin is at end, Gutierrez notes Tahir Whitehead and Emmanuel Lamur lined up as outside linebackers with the Raiders’ first-stringers at Tuesday’s OTA session.
- Clinton McDonald did not participate in Broncos OTAs on Tuesday, and Mike Klis of 9News notes the veteran defensive lineman is still recovering from a March shoulder operation. The Broncos knew of this procedure when they signed him in March, per Klis. He adds McDonald is expected to be ready for camp.
Most of the fifth-year option decisions this offseason were no-brainers, but what the Broncos would do with respect to Shane Ray‘s 2019 option was a little tougher to predict. Ultimately, Denver chose to decline the option, which means that Ray will be eligible for free agency following the 2018 campaign, and head coach Vance Joseph believes that the chance to hit the open market will make the Missouri product especially motivated to produce at a high level this year.
As O’Halloran notes, however, this could be Ray’s last season with the Broncos regardless of how he performs. If he does well, he could price himself out of Denver’s budget, and if he struggles, the Broncos may not want him back anyway.
- Joseph is not only impressed with Ray’s effort level this spring; he is also pleased by what he has seen from the Broncos‘ marquee free agent signing, Case Keenum. Joseph said (via the same piece linked above), “[W]atching Case the last couple of weeks on the field, man, he’s a lot better than I remember. It’s definitely a good thing to watch him lead the guys and watch the guys respond to him. It’s refreshing for all of us to be in the presence of a veteran quarterback who has command. I think everyone is loving the fact we have a quarterback in place that can lead this team from spot 1, and that’s good for all of us.”
This turned out to be an important year for quarterback acquisitions. Many teams’ short- and long-term futures will depend heavily on the players they added over the past two months.
A fourth of the NFL made major investments in outside talent at the quarterback position this offseason. Which team did you think is in the best position after all the dominoes fell?
Three teams acquired their unquestioned starters via trade or free agency. The Redskins’ trade for Alex Smith ensured they were not going to pick a quarterback in the draft. As did the Vikings’ subsequent Kirk Cousins agreement. The Broncos entered the draft as a borderline QB destination, but John Elway valued Bradley Chubb more than Josh Allen or Josh Rosen, eschewing a Bills offer that would have given his team extra first- and second-round picks. So, Case Keenum is going to be Denver’s starter.
Four of the five teams that used first-round picks on quarterbacks made sure to add bridge-type solutions, with the Browns moving first to get Tyrod Taylor. The Jets and Cardinals then respectively proceeded to bring in Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon. And the Bills made the final stopgap addition in A.J. McCarron. But these players, for the most part, are 2018 placeholders — at best.
Was Baker Mayfield worth the No. 1 overall pick? Or did the Browns make what could turn out to be the costliest of their spree of modern quarterback misjudgments last month? Several Cleveland executives independently rated Mayfield as the draft’s premier passer, going against the grain of the many teams that viewed Sam Darnold as this year’s top passing prospect. The Jets appear to have appreciated this bold move, and Darnold is almost certainly going to see extensive time in 2018. PFR readers believe he will.
The Bills worked the phones relentlessly in an effort to install Allen behind McCarron, and the Cardinals reportedly had the Wyoming prodigy rated as their top QB as well. But Allen could need extensive seasoning, and as of now, a returning playoff team has a fifth-year player with 133 career pass attempts set to open the season and possibly close it as the starter.
Conversely, the player the Cardinals invested in was tabbed by many draft experts as the readiest pro. And Bradford being in front of Rosen for 16 games may be asking a lot from the injury-prone veteran. The Ravens are already planning Jackson packages, and although the player whom some teams wanted to work out as a wide receiver may need a season to develop, this draft’s most dominant college QB resides in Baltimore behind Joe Flacco.
Armed with one of the league’s most talented rosters, Minnesota had the most obvious case to pursue a veteran. And the Vikings made history by authorizing a $28MM-AAV fully guaranteed deal for the soon-to-be 30-year-old Cousins, who may be the safest option among all of these players. But he’s now the league’s second-highest-paid passer and tethered to the Vikings through 2020. Smith is coming off his best NFL season, but his Chiefs teams disappointed in two home playoff opportunities. Washington could also be much further away from contention than Minnesota, and the Redskins have now brought in quarterback who for all the stability he offers is four years older.
It’s debatable the Broncos’ contention window could still be open, with many of their core Super Bowl 50 performers still on the team and having played the past two seasons without much help at quarterback. But a 5-11 team armed with only its second top-five pick since 1992 passing on two coveted QB prospects to pursue the 30-year-old Keenum, a late-blooming talent or a player who benefited from better circumstances, could also be classified as a bold choice as Rosen and Allen’s careers unfold. The Broncos only committed to Keenum for two years and are paying Football Outsiders’ No. 4 2017 DYAR passer $10MM less per year than Cousins commanded.
So, with all things considered, which of these franchises is best set up after this offseason? Did one of the teams that spent a first-round pick on a QB ensure a decade and then some of stability and promise? Or did the teams that went strictly for vets get this right? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Adam Gotsis may be practicing with the Broncos, but the defensive end could soon be facing some serious legal issues. Troy E. Renck of TheDenverChannel.com reports that the “Fulton County Georgia district attorney remains undecided on whether to press charges” against Gotsis for an alleged rape that took place five years ago.
We had heard back in March that Gotsis was arrested on rape charges stemming from an alleged 2013 incident. He ultimately surrendered to the charge and was later released on $50K bond. The 2016 second-rounder is accused of overcoming the will of a 25-year-old woman while he was a student at Georgia Tech.
“We were recently informed of an investigation into an alleged incident involving Adam Gotsis that occurred in 2013 when he was in college,” the Broncos said at the time. “Our organization was aware of his arrest on March 7, and it is our understanding that no determination has been made at this time as to whether any charges will be filed. The Broncos take an accusation of this nature very seriously and will continue to closely monitor the legal proceedings.”
Gotsis has spent the past two seasons in Denver, including a 2017 campaign where he started 13 of his 16 games. The 25-year-old ended up setting career-highs across the board, compiling 41 tackles, two sacks, and four passes defended.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- It appears the Broncos are going to try Menelik Watson at guard. After the former Raiders tackle struggled mightily before his latest injury, allowing a career-worst 7.5 sacks despite playing in just seven Broncos games last season, the team’s putting him in competition with as-of-now starter Connor McGovern for its right guard job, Mike Klis of 9News notes. A sixth-year player, Watson is a career tackle. Denver, which has entered the past five seasons with five different right tackle starters, traded for Jared Veldheer to replace Watson on the edge. McGovern himself is a notable inclusion into the lineup, since Max Garcia has started at guard for two seasons. McGovern worked his way into Denver’s starting mix after being an injury replacement for Ronald Leary late last season.
On Wednesday morning, Broncos GM John Elway gave his deposition to lawyers in the Colin Kaepernick collusion grievance case against the NF, as Mike Klis of 9NEWS tweets. As has been the case with most of the depositions thus far, Kaepernick was personally on hand.
As Klis notes, the Broncos were one of just a few teams who were keenly interested in Kaepernick in 2016 and, technically speaking, Elway may be the last executive who offered him a job. Elway tried to orchestrate a trade for Kaep with the 49ers after Peyton Manning‘s retirement, but Kaepernick declined to take a pay cut. Eventually, the Broncos moved on and selected Paxton Lynch in the first round of the 2016 draft.
Here’s more from Denver:
- Broncos running back De’Angelo Henderson was briefly hospitalized with minor injuries over the weekend after he was an accidental victim of a high-speed police chase. “I don’t know if lucky is the word,” said Henderson (via Klis), whose car went airborne and flipped in the air. “Blessed. There’s just so many different words.’’ Henderson says he suffered a slightly sprained ankle and shoulder, but “nothing that’s going to keep (him) out for a significant time.”
- Oregon running back Royce Freeman fell to the Broncos in the third round and some evaluators believe that his 947 carries in college played a role in his position on the board. Freeman, who saw seven running backs drafted before him, feels that he did not deserve a demerit for his odometer. “I feel like all of that durability and all of those carries just reflected my productivity throughout my four years at Oregon,” Freeman said (via ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold). “It is not often you get backs playing as many games or taking as many carries. I feel like the fact that I was able to do so proves I am a durable running back.”
Today’s minor moves (so far):
- Signed: DT Siupeli Anau, WR C.J. Duncan, LB Airius Moore, OL Greg Pyke
- Waived: CB Elijah Battle, LB Mike Needham, OL Austin Olsen, WR Jonah Trinnaman
- Signed: DE Da’Sean Downey
- Signed: FB Zach Olstad
- Waived/Injured: RB Aaron Green
- Signed: WR Bug Howard, C Kyle Friend, T/G Quinterrius Eatmon, DE Karter Schult
- Waived/Injured: CB Zack Sanchez
- Signed: WR Matt Fleming, DB John Franklin, DB Tyrin Holloway, OL Jeremi Hall, OL Matt McCants
- Waived: OL Travis Averill, OL Cameron Lee, LB Howard Jones, LB Nyles Morgan
- Signed: DT Chris Okoye, C Brand Lundblade, S Tyrice Beverette
- Waived: LB Oni Omoile, TE Scott Orndoff, CB Robenson Therezie
- Signed DB Tigie Sankoh, QB Brogan Roback
- Signed: WR Deontez Alexander, TE Marcus Lucas, CB Josh Okonye
- Waived: WR Kyle Lewis
- Waived/Injured: TE Brandon Barnes
- Placed on Reserve-Retired list: K.J. Malone
- Signed: T Kendell Calhoun, DE Nick Thurman
- Waived: WR Montay Crockett
- Waived/failure to disclose physical condition designation: DE Jalen Wilkerson
- Signed: OT Jared Machorro
- Waived: C Anthony Fabiano
Los Angeles Rams
- Signed: QB Luis Perez
New England Patriots
New Orleans Saints
- Signed: OT Michael Ola
- Waived: LB Adam Bighill, OL Daronte Bouldin, S Rickey Jefferson, Bradley Sylve
- Signed: S Dallin Leavitt, LS Drew Scott
- Signed: WR/KR Tim Wilson
- Signed: G/T R.J. Prince
- Signed: TE Clayton Wilson
- After drafting Bradley Chubb to fill the void DeMarcus Ware‘s retirement created, the Broncos reached out to Ware in hopes of the future Hall of Famer helping out on a part-time basis this summer, Mike Klis of 9News reports. Denver also contacted other former NFLers, but Ware is the only known name the to whom the team has reached out. The Broncos’ goal appears to be for these retired players to work as consultants during some OTA sessions and a few additional training camp dates. Ware played the final three seasons of his career with the Broncos, his tenure obviously peaking with a 3.5-sack postseason en route to Denver’s Super Bowl 50 title. Klis writes that it can be safely assumed Chubb would be Ware’s primary project if he accepts.