Drew Lock

Broncos Notes: Miller, Paton, Lock

Broncos LB Von Miller is the subject of a criminal investigation in Parker, CO, as Mike Klis of 9News.com was among those to report (via Twitter). Parker police would not comment on the nature of the investigation, though a report from FOX 31 suggests that it pertains to domestic abuse allegations levied against Miller by his ex-fiancée. The Broncos issued a statement indicating they are aware of the situation and are in the process of gathering more info.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, a decision on whether charges will be filed will not be made for several weeks. Obviously, any allegations of domestic violence are serious and outweigh any on-field concerns, but Miller’s future with the Broncos was already in doubt. He missed the entire 2020 campaign due to an ankle injury, and though he earned Pro Bowl honors in 2019, his eight sacks that year marked a career low (aside from a five-sack effort in 2013, when he played in just nine games).

Klis reports in a full-length piece that the Broncos will ask Miller to take a pay cut. The soon-to-be 32-year-old is due a $17.5MM base salary in 2021 — the last year of his current contract — but carries a $22.225MM cap charge due to an earlier restructure. Denver could release him and create $18MM in cap space, and given that Miller is unlikely to earn $17.5MM on the open market, he may be amenable to a reduction in pay. If the domestic allegations are substantiated, he can definitely bank on a suspension.

Now for more from the Mile High City:

  • In the same piece linked above, Klis examines the most pressing questions for new GM George Paton. Paton and HC Vic Fangio will report to John Elway in the team’s revamped power structure, but Paton will have control over personnel matters. One of his first orders of business — aside from the Miller issue — will be to sort out the Broncos’ QB situation. Veteran signal-callers like Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson may or may not be available on the trade market, and even if a blockbuster trade doesn’t happen, Klis expects Paton to bring in legitimate competition for incumbent passer Drew Lock. Paton will also have the No. 9 overall pick at his disposal.
  • The contract situation of safety Justin Simmons will need to be addressed as well. Simmons and the Broncos were unable to come to terms on a multi-year contract last offseason, so the newly-minted Pro Bowler played out the 2020 season under a $11.4MM franchise tag. Klis suggests that Simmons could adjust his asking price on a long-term deal given the expected decrease in the 2021 salary cap, and he also says a second tag — worth about $13.7MM — could be in play.
  • Saints vice president of pro personnel Terry Fontenot was the runner-up to Paton in the Broncos’ GM hunt, as Klis tweets. Denver was able to convince Paton — who had been a hot GM candidate for years — to finally leave Minnesota, but the club was certainly impressed by Fontenot, who is now said to be the Falcons’ top choice for their GM vacancy.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/1/20

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Tennessee Titans

All Broncos QBs Ineligible For Week 12

The Broncos and the NFL have run into a significant problem. Jeff Driskel‘s positive COVID-19 test earlier this week will lead to an unprecedented situation.

None of the Broncos’ three other QBs will be eligible to play Sunday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles have been deemed high-risk close contacts of Driskel. The NFL forced the Broncos to pull the three passers out of practice earlier today, Mike Klis of 9News tweets.

With the Broncos having no available QBs, this certainly puts the viability of Sunday’s Denver-New Orleans game in doubt. However, this game is still on schedule for Sunday, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. This seems like a tenuous proposition, but as of now, the Broncos would be forced to deploy a true emergency quarterback. They cannot sign any free agent passer to play Sunday, due to COVID-19 protocols.

Driskel’s Thursday positive test coincided with his three non-infected teammates not wearing masks, Schefter adds (on Twitter). It is not known how long the trio went without masks, but it was evidently long enough for the NFL to sideline an entire team’s QB room. The Patriots saw Cam Newton sidelined because of the virus earlier this season, and COVID-positive Lamar Jackson will miss Tuesday’s Ravens-Steelers game — should it stay on as scheduled. But the Broncos’ predicament drags the NFL into new territory regarding the virus.

The Broncos have a wide receiver on their practice squad, Kendall Hinton, who played quarterback at Wake Forest for three seasons, Klis adds (on Twitter). Quality control coach Rob Calabrese worked in that role at practice Saturday, Klis tweets. Hinton attempted 251 career passes with the Demon Deacons, though most of them came in 2015. He ran for 390 yards and seven TDs that season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

QB Injury Updates: Brees, Darnold, Minshew, Lock, Dalton

There have been a lot of short-term quarterback injuries recently, and we’ve got a batch of updates to pass along. We heard earlier Monday that Drew Brees is dealing with several cracked ribs as well as a collapsed lung, and now we have a better idea how long he’ll be sidelined. 2-3 weeks is apparently the “most optimistic recovery time” for the veteran, a source told Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Graziano said there’s emphasis on the optimistic part there, indicating it could be quite a bit longer than that.

He also added “there is hope he’s back in time for playoffs,” which doesn’t paint the prettiest picture. It sounds like it’ll be Jameis Winston and/or Taysom Hill for the foreseeable future. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported earlier the Saints weren’t immediately planning on placing Brees on injured reserve, confirming there is some hope he won’t even have to miss three full games. Graziano says it’ll all come down to when they feel like he can take a hit without risk of re-injury. New Orleans will take on the Falcons this weekend, and head coach Sean Payton has already said he won’t name a starting quarterback until closer to kickoff.

Here’s more on the health status of various passers:

  • The Jets will be looking for their first win of the season with Joe Flacco yet again. Sam Darnold will not be able to return this week, they announced Monday. This will be Flacco’s fourth start of the season after Darnold briefly returned before re-injuring his shoulder and hitting the shelf again. Head coach Adam Gase said he could possibly play in Week 12, but that doesn’t sound overly likely at the moment. Darnold himself spoke to the media, and made it sound like the team is going to be very cautious and not play him until he’s 100 percent. He did say he was “very confident” he would play again this season, but we could be looking at another couple of games at least with Flacco under center.
  • Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew also won’t be ready to return this week, head coach Doug Marrone said Monday, meaning sixth-round rookie Jake Luton will get his third-straight start. It does sound like Minshew is getting closer though, as Marrone said he’ll start throwing routes again in practice this week, via Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • Drew Lock melted down against the Raiders on Sunday with four interceptions, but he apparently wasn’t 100 percent healthy. Lock has a muscle strain around his ribs, a source told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). Head coach Vic Fangio acknowledged that his status for this weekend’s game against the Dolphins is in doubt. He also reiterated that he’s not considering benching the second-year pro assuming he’s healthy, even though he’s been struggling mightily recently. If he isn’t able to suit up Brett Rypien is currently the number two, although the team also has veteran Blake Bortles on the practice squad.
  • In better news, it looks like the Cowboys won’t have quite as chaotic a situation any more under center. Coach Mike McCarthy announced Monday that Andy Dalton had been cleared to fully return to practice, and he should start this Sunday against the Vikings. Dalton has missed the past two games after suffering a concussion and then testing positive for COVID-19. Seventh-round rookie Ben DiNucci and former undrafted AAF star Garrett Gilbert started in his place.

AFC West Notes: Bell, Broncos, Nassib, Bolts

Less than an hour after Le’Veon Bell‘s Jets departure became official, rumors about his new team are surfacing. While Bell’s suitor list is not yet known, many around the league expect the Chiefs to be interested in the former All-Pro back, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. The Chiefs made a somewhat similar move last year, signing LeSean McCoy — after the Bills cut him — to play behind then-starter Damien Williams. Kansas City used a first-round pick on Clyde Edwards-Helaire but has lower-profile backs Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson — after Damien Williams’ July opt-out — backing up the rookie. Bell, whose disappointing Jets stay secured him nearly $30MM, will prioritize his fit in an offense and a team’s chances of contending before choosing his next destination, per Fowler. Bell returned in Week 5 from a hamstring injury and averaged 4.62 yards per carry on 13 totes in the Jets’ loss to the Cardinals.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • While Cam Newton‘s return to the Patriots’ active roster points to the Broncos facing him and not Jarrett Stidham this week, Drew Lock also appears on the verge of a return. The Denver starter participated fully in practice Wednesday. A Week 6 return would be in the timeframe initially set after Lock’s Week 2 shoulder injury. The Broncos used two different starters, running their post-Peyton Manning total to nine, in Lock’s absence. Were Lock to be held out another week, Brett Rypien would be in line to log a second start.
  • Mark Barron‘s Broncos debut remains on hold. On IR because of a hamstring injury, Barron suffered a pectoral malady that will delay his return to action, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. The Broncos signed Barron late in the summer, but the former first-round pick does not have a clear-cut return date.
  • The Raiders are also going to be without a rotational defender for a bit. Carl Nassib suffered a broken toe during the team’s win over the Chiefs, per Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). It is, in fact, a big toe injury. The former Browns and Buccaneers pass rusher will likely be out a while, though a concrete timetable does not exist yet. An offseason addition, Nassib has played just more than a fourth of Las Vegas’ defensive snaps this season.
  • The Dolphins recently promoted running back Salvon Ahmed to their active roster. They did so after the Chargers expressed interest in poaching Ahmed off Miami’s practice squad, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The Chargers are down Austin Ekeler presently and have just two backs — Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley — on their active roster. A rookie UDFA out of Washington, Ahmed has yet to dress for an NFL game.

Broncos Place Mark Barron, DeMarcus Walker On IR

The Broncos’ IR list is filling up. Mark Barron and DeMarcus Walker will join the likes of Von Miller, Courtland Sutton and A.J. Bouye on Denver’s injured reserve, Vic Fangio said Wednesday.

Barron has yet to make his Denver debut; a hamstring injury has kept the veteran linebacker off the field. Walker, a fourth-year defensive end, suffered a calf injury in the Broncos’ Week 2 loss to the Steelers. Both players are eligible to return in Week 6.

While the Broncos have been hit harder than just about any team with injuries this season — with four of the six former Pro Bowlers on their roster currently unavailable — they are not placing Drew Lock on IR. The prospect of Lock returning before Week 6 induced the team to keep its starting quarterback on its 53-man roster, Fangio said. Lock, however, could be out for close to six weeks. But the Broncos will go with three active-roster QBs for the time being. They agreed to terms with Blake Bortles on Tuesday; he will join Jeff Driskel on the roster.

Denver signed Barron after releasing Todd Davis. The former was set to work as passing-down linebacker alongside Alexander Johnson. Those plans are on hold. The Steelers released Barron earlier this year, doing so a year after the Rams made the former first-round pick a cap casualty.

Walker beat out Christian Covington for a roster spot this year, after showing some promise down the stretch last season. The Broncos drafted Walker in the 2017 second round. Although Walker has not quite lived up to his draft slot — particularly in his first two seasons — Fangio and Co. kept the Vance Joseph-era investment around as a depth player. The team now has Walker and 2019 third-round D-lineman Dre’Mont Jones on IR.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Updates: Colts, McCaffrey, Broncos, 49ers

It’s been a tough day for the NFL, with a slew of high profile players going down with serious injuries. We’ve brought you all the season-ending ones already, and now we’ve got some updates on some hopefully less long-term but still significant injuries. Colts receiver Parris Campbell had to be carted off with a knee injury, but fortunately Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets that he did not tear his ACL.

Campbell’s 2019 rookie season was plagued by injuries as he dealt with a sports hernia, a broken hand, and a broken foot, so this was especially tough to see. He was supposed to play a big role in this Colts offense, and showed a nice connection with new quarterback Philip Rivers in Week 1. The Ohio State product and former second-round pick will have an MRI on Monday, and it seems like an MCL injury could be likely.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Panthers superstar Christian McCaffrey sprained his ankle and will have an MRI on Monday to determine the severity, Rapoport tweets. Fortunately, Rapsheet reports that the “initial hope” is it’s not too serious. Needless to say, it would be a massive loss for Carolina’s offense if he’s forced to miss any time.
  • We heard earlier today that Drew Lock would miss multiple games with an AC joint injury in his throwing shoulder. While he agrees with the prognosis of multiple weeks missed, multiple sources told Mike Klis of Denver 9 News that the injury is not in fact to the AC joint (Twitter link). The bad news is that Klis also reports there is “concern” within the organization about Courtland Sutton‘s knee, but that nothing more will be known until tomorrow morning. The Broncos have been besieged by injuries, and can’t seem to catch a break in that regard.
  • The Falcons blew a huge lead late for an absolutely gutting loss to the Cowboys, and the bad news doesn’t end there. The team fears starting right tackle Kaleb McGary has sprained his MCL, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The MRI Monday will confirm how long he’ll be out, but this sounds like a multi-week absence. McGary has started every game since the team drafted him in the first-round last year, and this is the last thing this 0-2 Atlanta team needed.
  • Nick Bosa is done for the year with a torn ACL, and two other 49ers players are dealing with knee injuries. Running back Raheem Mostert is believed to have a mild MCL sprain and defensive tackle Solomon Thomas is believed to have a “serious” knee injury, according to tweets from Schefter. It sounds like both are going to miss time, although Mostert’s shouldn’t be too long-term and Schefter notes that Thomas’ didn’t have the initial grim clarity of Bosa’s, which could be a good sign. San Francisco has been another team bit hard by the injury bug.

Broncos QB Drew Lock Out 2-6 Weeks

Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t the only starting quarterback who won’t be out there next week. Broncos passer Drew Lock has a sprained AC joint in his shoulder and is expected to be out 2-6 weeks, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Schefter adds that Lock will have an MRI on Monday to determine more specifics, but it sounds like Denver is going to be without him for at least a couple of games. Jeff Driskel came on in relief, and will now be the starter moving forward. It’s a brutal blow to the Broncos after they’ve suffered two narrow down to the wire losses through the first two weeks.

They’ve had some bad injury luck, with star pass-rusher Von Miller likely to miss the season due to ankle surgery and top receiver Courtland Sutton banged up. It’s also tough for Lock’s development, since the Missouri product only started five games as a rookie and could use all the reps he can get.

There was a lot of optimism internally with this Broncos team entering the year, but that has mostly been dashed now. Driskel performed admirably against the Steelers and nearly led a comeback in the second half, but he’s shown during previous stints with the Bengals and Lions he isn’t going to be an above average starter.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Rumors: Lock, Lindsay, Miller

As probably the second-best decade in Broncos history concludes, here is the latest out of Denver going into the 2020s. We’ll begin with the team’s quarterback situation.

  • Drew Lock led the Broncos to four wins in his five-start rookie season, and John Elway confirmed the perpetually quarterback-seeking franchise will not be in the market for another starter. “Obviously he finished, did a heck of a job, won four out of five games and played well, but he still has a long way to go; he’s got a lot of work to do,” Elway said, via ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold. “We’re excited about where Drew is so, we don’t like to show our hand. But it’s unrealistic to say we’re going a different direction.” Lock’s rookie contract will give the Broncos flexibility they have not had in a few years.
  • However, the Broncos’ September restructure of Joe Flacco‘s contract will mean a $13.6MM dead-money tag if/when he is released. Flacco is not expected to be on next year’s Broncos team but does not want to retire yet. Although, Flacco would be open to a Broncos backup role going forward, video link via Mike Klis of 9News. Should Flacco return to full strength, he could be an attractive backup option somewhere. The 34-year-old quarterback will go through an MRI in the next month to determine if he needs neck surgery, per Legwold.
  • Phillip Lindsay became the first UDFA to start his career 2-for-2 in 1,000-yard rushing seasons, Elway said the Broncos will look into redoing his contract, per The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala (on Twitter). Lindsay’s rookie deal runs through 2020, but UDFAs can be extended after two years as opposed to the three-year waiting period for draft picks. Lindsay, 25, is set to make just $660K next season, so expect extension discussions to commence. The Denver native would prefer a new contract this offseason, per Jhabvala (on Twitter).
  • Von Miller backtracked on mid-December comments that could have been construed as ominous, clarifying he did not want to leave Denver. And he will be part of the 2020 Broncos. The Broncos will pick up Miller’s option, Elway said (via Klis, on Twitter). The 30-year-old standout’s option — due by March 17 — calls for $6MM of his $18MM 2020 payment to become fully guaranteed, which would essentially ensure he will be part of next year’s Denver edition. Miller’s six-year, $114.5MM deal runs through the 2021 season.

Broncos To Start Drew Lock

After officially activating him off injured reserve on Saturday, the Broncos will start rookie QB Drew Lock against the Chargers on Sunday, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. It will be the first regular season action of Lock’s professional career.

Although the Broncos drafted Lock in the second round of the 2019 draft with the notion that he could be the team’s long-term answer under center, he may have to perform at a very high level throughout the rest of the season to stave off any competition for the starting QB job in 2020. The Missouri product had an uneven preseason and was knocked out of the Broncos’ fourth exhibition game with a thumb injury, which landed him on IR. He did not return to practice until the second week of November.

As such, it would not be surprising for the Broncos to go shopping for a signal-caller yet again this offseason if Lock doesn’t excel, though Lock would almost certainly be involved in a QB competition if that happens. After all, he was considered a borderline first-round talent, and he had a prolific four-year collegiate career at Mizzou.

Lock will have a stiff test against the Chargers, whose defense ranks in the top-10 in yards allowed and points allowed, and who will be returning safety Derwin James.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.