Derek Wolfe

Derek Wolfe Hopes To Stay With Broncos

Derek Wolfe is done for the year with a dislocated left elbow, but he hopes that he’s not yet done with the Broncos. The veteran says he hopes to return to the team in 2020, as Mike Klis of 9News writes.

I know. I’d hate for that to be my last game as a Bronco,” Wolfe said. “That would break my heart.”

Wolfe, 30 in February, is in the final season of a four-year, $36.7MM contract. He made $9MM this season and it’s unclear if the Broncos would have him back at a similar rate. For what it’s worth, head coach Vic Fangio was asked if he wanted Wolfe back and he replied, “Sure.”

Before the injury, Wolfe notched two sacks against the Chargers, giving him a new single-season best of seven sacks. That’s the kind of production the Broncos could use even after their offseason revamp, but they have many tough decisions to make when it comes to their free agents.

They’re expected to make a strong push for at least one pending free agent in safety Justin Simmons, Klis hears. Simmons, still only 26, has started in all 12 of his games this year and currently ranks as Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 safety in the NFL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos’ Derek Wolfe Done For Season

1:09pm: Wolfe will indeed miss the rest of the season. The Broncos are placing him on IR, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).

8:15am: Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe might not be on the field for the final stretch of the season. After the Broncos topped the Chargers 23-30 on Sunday, the veteran told reporters that he’s likely done for the year after suffering an elbow injury. 

It doesn’t look good,” Wolfe said (via Mike Klis of 9News).

Wolfe went on to say that he’s likely dealing with a dislocation, which would certainly rule him out the rest of the way. It’s unfortunate, especially since Wolfe has been playing well as of late. In the win over the Bolts, Wolfe registered two sacks, giving him seven sacks on the year – his highest season total ever.

At 4-8, the Broncos have a lot of work ahead of them this offseason. But Wolfe, who has been one of their most reliable defensive players in recent years, figures to still be a part of the plan in 2020. He’ll be eligible for free agency in March, however, after the conclusion of the four-year, $36.7MM deal he inked in 2016.

Wolfe has earned nearly $33MM since entering the league as a second-round pick of the Broncos in 2012. He’ll turn 30 in February, so a new contract with Denver could allow him to retire as a member of the Broncos.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Notes: Free Agents, Simmons, McManus

Broncos Hall of Fame quarterback turned president of football operations John Elway has not needed to break the bank retaining the team’s free agents over the past few years. Ryan O’Halloran of The Denver Post opines that this offseason may force Denver to change that approach. O’Halloran looks at every Bronco set for free agency and analyzes whether the team should try to resign them.

Veterans Chris Harris and Derek Wolfe highlight a crop that includes multiple starters and a number of main rotational pieces. At just 3-8, Denver has a lot of holes to fill, but they will have over $70MM in cap space to target more outside talent and retain the internal players they want to keep.

Here’s more from the franchise in the Mile High City:

  • Regardless of how Denver handles the rest of their free-agent crop, the Broncos need to retain safety Justin Simmons, opines Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post. While the team obviously hopes to return to contention as soon as possible, the team has to wonder whether players like Harris and Wolfe will still be playing at a good enough level by the time they turn it around. Just 26 years old, Simmons fits for the franchise regardless of how long it takes them to rebuild.
  • While it had little impact on the outcome of the Broncos 20-3 loss on Sunday against the Bills, kicker Brandon McManus told reporters postgame that the weather conditions in Buffalo resulted in the most difficult kick of his career, according to Ryan O’Halloran of The Denver Post. With seventeen mile per hour winds at kickoff, McManus managed to make a 45-yard field goal kicking against the win, accounting for the teams only points. However, his two kickoffs against the win failed to reach the Bills ten-yard line.

Trade Rumors: Hopkins, Slay, Hooper

The trade deadline is two days away, so there are plenty of rumors to pass along. Of course, many of those rumors center around this year’s non-contenders, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says that two such teams — the Redskins and Bengals — continue to rebuff inquiries concerning veterans who should be available. Rival GMs have grown increasingly frustrated with Washington and Cincinnati, and La Canfora says opposing clubs have become resigned to the fact that they are not going to be able to swing a deal with those obstinate franchises. That means that a number of big names — Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan, A.J. Green, and Carlos Dunlap, to name a few — are looking more and more likely to stay put.

Now for more trade rumors from around the league, starting with another nugget out of Cincinnati:

  • Michael Lombardi of The Athletic agrees that the Bengals are likely to stand pat at the deadline for the most part, but he does believe the club will move tight end Tyler Eifert.
  • Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is decidedly not on the trading block, but teams have still called Houston to ask about the star wideout, as Jay Glazer of FOX Sports tweets. That obviously sounds like clubs doing their due diligence more than anything else, and Glazer acknowledges that it would take an awful lot for the Texans to move Hopkins.
  • The Lions have received calls on CB Darius Slay, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. It would take a big offer to pry Slay from Detroit, but in the wake of Slay’s comments earlier this week, maybe the Lions will be more inclined to move him.
  • RB-needy teams have called the Seahawks to inquire on Rashaad Penny, as Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network reports (video link). Penny is not on the block, per se, but the 2018 first-rounder is drawing interest. In the same video, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network says Chargers RB Melvin Gordon could also be on the move.
  • Schefter reports that the 49ers have received calls on backup QB C.J. Beathard, whom Schefter suggests could be on the move.
  • The Falcons have fielded calls on DT Tyeler Davison, per Lombardi, but Atlanta has told other teams Davison will not be moved. The team is also going to hang on to TE Austin Hooper, as Schefter tweets.
  • The Giants are likely to cut Nate Solder after the season, so Lombardi believes Big Blue should go ahead and trade him now (though HC Pat Shurmur, whose job could be in jeopardy, would likely resist such a move). The Browns continue to be in the market for OT help, as Schefter writes, and the Patriots may also be interested in a reunion with Solder. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com says Solder was not a viable option for Cleveland as of the middle of last week, but that could change in the next couple of days.
  • Janoris Jenkins is another member of the Giants who could be on the move, and while he is likely open to joining a contender, he just wants New York to be transparent with their plans for him, as Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post writes. That sentiment was also expressed by former Giants like Landon Collins and Odell Beckham Jr., who both felt as though Shurmur and GM Dave Gettleman were not straightforward with them. Dunleavy names the Chiefs as a potential landing spot for Jenkins.
  • Interest remains heavy on Broncos vets Chris Harris Jr. and Derek Wolfe, as La Canfora writes. Denver is open to moving Harris and Wolfe, and rival GMs expect the Broncos to make those trades happen.

GMs Expecting Active Trade Deadline

The NFL has experienced a dramatic rise in significant trades over the past several years, and there may be a few noteworthy swaps going down this month as we get closer to the October 29 trade deadline. Indeed, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says there is a sense among general managers that we may see more trades in advance of this year’s deadline than ever before, largely because there is a larger gulf between pretenders and contenders than in seasons past (indeed, there are still six winless teams, which is the highest number at this point in the season since the 1970 merger).

La Canfora says the teams most actively laying groundwork for potential deals are the Saints, Eagles, Ravens, Chiefs, Patriots, and Seahawks. Of course, a number of those clubs have already been pursuing Jacksonville CB Jalen Ramsey, and the Saints, Eagles, Ravens, and Chiefs are casting a wide net for cornerback upgrades.

One of this year’s still-winless clubs, the Broncos, are reportedly more open to moving veteran pieces than they were last year, as La Canfora writes in a separate piece, with Derek Wolfe, Chris Harris, and Emmanuel Sanders all generating interest. Wolfe could make sense for Baltimore, and the Saints are expected to renew their pursuit of Sanders. Even Von Miller could be on the block, per La Canfora, especially since all of his major bonuses and guarantees have already been paid. Miller, 30, is reportedly open to a change of scenery at this point, but Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network says the Broncos will not trade him (video link). However, the other players mentioned above could be available if Denver continues to scuffle.

But while Denver may be willing to talk shop, rival GMs are skeptical that the 0-4 Bengals, led by old-school owner Mike Brown, will be amenable to moving big-name vets despite their fading fortunes. La Canfora’s sources say Cincinnati could net a first-round pick for WR A.J. Green if the acquiring club is able to work out a new contract with him as a condition of the trade (and if Green recovers from his foot injury soon). The Patriots and Saints could make a push for Green or Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, and Cincy could also swing deals for players like Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap if the club is willing to listen to offers.

Like fellow winless outfits Denver and Cincinnati, the Jets could be active in shopping veteran players in advance of the deadline. La Canfora specifically names Kelechi Osemele and Leonard Williams as players who could be on the move, though he says there has been no trade chatter surrounding Le’Veon Bell at this point.

Finally, though the 0-4 Redskins have been steadfastly refusing to trade Trent Williams, some believe that the team will relent at some point and will ship Williams to a contender in need of O-line help.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Plan To Keep Emmanuel Sanders

By releasing Emmanuel Sanders, the Broncos could create more than $10MM in cap space. However, they would create a major need at wide receiver by doing so. It does not appear they plan to go in this direction.

Vic Fangio said Wednesday (via Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post) Sanders is expected to have a major role next season. The new Denver HC also said the Broncos are expected to have Sanders back in the lineup by Week 1. This would be significant, considering the Pro Bowl wideout tore an Achilles’ tendon in early December.

John Elway confirmed Wednesday afternoon the team will pick up the options of both Sanders and Derek Wolfe, who has a $1MM option.

Sanders, who will turn 32 next month, recently balked at a potential pay cut. The Broncos, however, have not asked for this. They have Sanders under contract for one more season — at $10.15MM — and have a $1.5MM option to pick up soon. This looks set to happen, and Sanders will continue his rehab with an apparent goal of returning some point during training camp.

Demaryius Thomas‘ longtime running mate is the final skill-position player remaining from the Broncos’ Super Bowl champion team. The Broncos traded Thomas at last year’s deadline, with his contract more expensive than Sanders’ and the latter having surpassed him as the team’s No. 1 option — at least during the 2018 season. Sanders was on pace for more than 1,100 receiving yards before going down in early December. Denver lost Sanders and Chris Harris within a span of four days, and its three-game midseason win streak gave way to a four-game, season-ending skid.

Denver drafted Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton last year, and UDFA Tim Patrick showed promise. But the Broncos are, barring something unexpected, planning to have Sanders around for the start of Joe Flacco‘s tenure.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Rumors: Thomas, Sanders, Wolfe

Here’s a quick look at the latest out of Denver:

  • As had been previously reported, the Broncos plan to retain wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, general manager John Elway told reporters, including Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Specifically, Denver will exercise its $4MM option on Thomas, which will lock the 30-year-old pass-catcher into a $8.5MM base salary for the 2018 season. Sanders, meanwhile, is due an $8.15MM base salary next year. While neither receiver performed up to expectations in 2017, the Broncos likely want to keep both veterans around as they search for a new quarterback.
  • Similarly, the Broncos will bring back defensive end Derek Wolfe, who’d been mentioned as a possible cap casualty, tweets Jhabvala. Wolf, 28, signed a four-year, $36.7MM extension prior to the 2016 campaign, forgoing free agency in order to re-sign with Denver. Since that time, Wolfe has been limited by minor injuries, and played on fewer than half of the Broncos’ defensive snaps a season ago. Pro Football Focus ranked Wolfe — who managed two sacks in 2017 — as the No. 58 interior defender among 122 qualifiers. He’ll collect a base salary of $8MM and count for ~$10.769MM on Denver’s cap in 2018.
  • While Thomas, Sanders, and Wolfe appear safe, Elway refused to give the same declaration on cornerback Aqib Talib or running back C.J. Anderson, per Jhabvala (Twitter link). Denver is reportedly attempting to trade Talib (and his $11MM salary), but the club could release the veteran defensive back if no interest is found. Anderson, meanwhile, may also be cut, and the Dolphins — who signed Anderson to a restricted free agent offer sheet in 2016 — are expected to pursue him.

Broncos’ Derek Wolfe Done For Season

Derek Wolfe‘s neck injury will not require surgery, but he says that he will act on his doctor’s advice and sit out for the remainder of the year. Wolfe will be placed on injured reserve, opening up a spot on the roster for another player in the team’s final four games. Derek Wolfe

As much as I’d like to get back out there and keep playing, when a spinal doctor tells you that you can lose use of your right arm if you don’t rest and heal properly, you listen,’’ Wolfe told Mike Klis of 9NEWS. “I don’t want to lose the use of my right arm. I’m happy because he said I wouldn’t need surgery which would have meant all kinds of crazy things. But he said there’s no way you should play football the next two months.’’

The loss of Wolfe takes Denver’s best defensive end off of the field, but this final month doesn’t mean a whole lot for the 3-9 Broncos. By resting up, Wolfe will avoid the potential of a much more serious injury and, hopefully, allow himself to be ready for Week 1 of the 2018 season.

Wolfe, 28 in February, finishes out the year with two sacks and 31 total tackles. He has 24.5 sacks to his credit over six seasons and the Broncos are banking on that same kind of production for years to come. The four-year, $37.6MM contract signed by Wolfe in 2016 is scheduled to keep him in place through the 2019 campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Wolfe, Downing

The Broncos have lost some key auxiliary performers in recent weeks. Outside linebackers Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett could both be sidelined past Week 1, and defensive line rotation cog Billy Winn is out for the season after tearing an ACL. Denver’s offense received some bad news as well. Third-round pick Carlos Henderson will undergo thumb surgery that will shelve him for at least the remainder of the preseason and possibly into the regular season, Mike Klis of 9News reports. Henderson suffered the injury during the Broncos’ August opener against the Bears.

The Louisiana Tech standout was vying to become Denver’s No. 3 wide receiver but was struggling during camp. The Broncos were using Henderson at kick returner in Chicago. Henderson’s injury will create openings for incumbent pass-catchers Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler and Jordan Taylor in the coming weeks while potentially limiting the rookie’s assimilation.

Here’s the latest out of Denver and other AFC West cities.

  • It doesn’t look like Derek Wolfe will be undergoing surgery, but the sixth-year defensive end will likely be out for a few weeks. An ankle injury forced Wolfe to be carted off the practice field Saturday, but Wolfe informed ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson (Twitter link) he should be good to go for Week 1. That said, Denver’s left defensive end told Anderson his ankle is badly sprained and has a “slight tear.” Pending further examination, the Broncos do not believe this is a serious injury, Adam Schefter of ESPN tweets. Wolfe tweeted a picture of the afflicted ankle as well.
  • New Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing received the backing of mentor Mike Tice when it came time for Jack Del Rio to choose between Downing and previous OC Bill Musgrave. Tice helped bring Del Rio and Musgrave — who worked together for two years in Jacksonville — back together in 2015. But the Oakland offensive line coach agreed with Del Rio that losing Downing to a team that wanted him as OC wouldn’t be a smart move, Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Tice oversaw Downing’s work when he was the Vikings’ head coach during the 2000s, eventually giving Downing his first coaching job in 2005. Musgrave’s contract was not renewed, and the longtime assistant is coaching the Broncos’ quarterbacks.
  • Tafur adds the close relationship between Downing and Derek Carr helped influence the decision and previously dictated the Sunday arrangements last season. Downing coached Carr on the sidelines while Musgrave operated from the booth. Carr said, via Tafur, he will have more freedom to improvise under Downing than he did in two seasons under Musgrave. However, this season will be the 37-year-old Downing’s first time calling plays at any level since he helped coach a Minneapolis-area ninth-grade team in 2002, Tafur adds.
  • Recently added offensive lineman Allen Barbre is competing with Max Garcia for the Broncos‘ starting left guard position, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post notes. Barbre has played both guard and tackle in his career but worked with the first unit in practice and could see time with the starters in Denver’s second preseason game, per Jhabvala. Garcia and Michael Schofield were the Broncos’ starters last season. Ronald Leary is the new right guard.
  • Ray’s target date for a return from wrist surgery is Week 3, when the Broncos make their first road trip of the season in a venture to Buffalo, Jhabvala reports. Former Saints edge defender Kasim Edebali and Vontarrius Dora are the top candidates to start opposite Von Miller come Week 1, should Barrett not make it back by then.
  • Chargers rookie Mike Williams is “running” and “doing well,” per Anthony Lynn, but remains without a firm timetable.

West Notes: Kelly, Rams, Broncos, Talib, Wolfe

In the midst of a dreadful season, 49ers coach Chip Kelly says he hasn’t discussed his future with team brass.

No,” Kelly said, according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. “We haven’t had any conversations about that at all. About anybody’s job security.”

After losing 30-17 to New England, the Niners are now 1-9 and their nine-game losing streak ties a 38-year-old franchise worst. Still, Kelly is in his first year with the team and he did not inherit a great roster. It would be a bit surprising if Kelly was jettisoned so soon, but then again, coaches are often on a short leash in the NFL.

Here’s more from the West divisions:

  • In the middle of the 2015 season, the Rams canned Frank Cignetti and installed Rob Boras as the team’s offensive coordinator. Will they make a similar move this year? “Not given it any consideration,” Fisher said (link via Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times). “I did that last year. I have confidence in Rob and the offense has confidence in Rob. And the offense right now knows they’re not doing what they should be doing.” The Rams currently rank 31st in total offense, 28th in passing, and 29th in rushing.
  • The Broncos expect to have cornerback Aqib Talib and defensive end Derek Wolfe back for Sunday night’s game against Kansas City, as Andrew Mason of DenverBroncos.com writes. Talib has missed three games with a back injury and Wolfe was absent in Week 10 as he dealt with an elbow issue.
  • The Chiefs worked out long snappers Thomas Gafford and Clint Gresham, Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star tweets.