Billy Turner

Broncos Activate OLB Randy Gregory, RT Billy Turner

Week 15 will mark the return date for one key Broncos player on each side of the ball. The team announced on Saturday that edge rusher Randy Gregory and right tackle Billy Turner have been activated from IR.

[RELATED: Broncos Place Dre’Mont Jones On IR]

The move comes as little surprise, since the pair were designated for return earlier this week. That opened up their respective 21-day windows to be activated, and will allow them to play a role in the closing stages of what has been a lost season in the Mile High City.

Gregory’s arrival in Denver was a main talking point in the offseason, after he signed with the Broncos on a five-year, $70MM deal. That, in turn, came after a contract of identical length and value which would have kept him with the Cowboys fell through, something which greatly affected his former team’s outlook on the position during the spring. He was able to get healthy in time for the beginning of his first campaign with the Broncos.

That stretch lasted less than four full games, however, as the 30-year-old suffered a knee injury against the Raiders in early October. He has been sidelined ever since, interrupting what had been a promising start to his Broncos career; Gregory notched two sacks and a pair of forced fumbles in the early portion of the season. The team’s defense has remained elite in several categories in his absence, though a return to the form he showed in the fall would provide a significant boost to a Denver edge rush which ranks mid-pack in sacks and no longer includes Bradley Chubb.

Turner, meanwhile, suffered a knee injury of his own in November, and was expected to miss considerable time as a result of it. His absence further compounded the myriad injuries Denver has dealt with along the offensive line in general, and the right tackle position in particular. Cameron Fleming has occupied that spot in Turner’s absence, and head coach Nathaniel Hackett said yesterday that a decision has not been made whether it will be he or Calvin Anderson manning the blindside with Turner back in his familiar RT role. A pending free agent, the latter would be well-suited to have a healthy and effective close to the season.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/14/22

Here are today’s minor transactions from around the league:

Arizona Cardinals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Broncos Activate OL Tom Compton From PUP List, Place T Billy Turner On IR

The Broncos’ perpetually spinning right tackle carousel may soon have another starter in place. The team activated Tom Compton from the reserve/PUP list on Tuesday.

Signed to vie for the right tackle gig with Billy Turner and/or provide depth, Compton has been shut down since undergoing back surgery this summer. The Broncos designated Compton for return Oct. 26, giving them one more day to activate the veteran offensive lineman. Otherwise, Compton would have been ineligible to play this season.

In moving Compton onto the 53-man roster, the Broncos shuttled Turner to IR. While Nathaniel Hackett called Denver’s most recent right tackle starter week-to-week Monday, the veteran blocker’s latest knee injury was rumored to require a much longer absence. Turner will be out at least four games. While Compton could take over as Denver’s starter, it is not certain the veteran will be ready immediately upon return.

[RELATED: Week 11 Injured Reserve Return Tracker]

Denver gave Compton a one-year, $2.25MM deal to come over from San Francisco. They of 10 different right tackles to open the past 10 seasons, the Broncos had planned a Turner-Compton competition. Compton’s back procedure and Turner’s training camp knee injury scuttled that, leading Cameron Fleming to start the season there. Many changes to Denver’s front have occurred since that point.

Compton, 33, has experience at both guard and tackle. Most recently, he filled in well for the NFC championship-bound 2021 49ers. Following Mike McGlinchey‘s season-ending quadriceps injury, Compton took over and started San Francisco’s final 10 games. Pro Football Focus rated the veteran as one of last season’s top run blockers at any position, though his limited offseason market did not reflect that praise. The Broncos are Compton’s seventh NFL team; he has started for five of those, making 44 career starts.

Turner, 31, signed a one-year, $2.5MM deal to rejoin the Broncos (and Hackett, the Packers’ OC during each of Turner’s three Green Bay years) this offseason. After Turner’s injury Sunday, the Broncos moved inexperienced option Quinn Bailey to their right tackle post. The team has lost left tackle Garett Bolles for the season and has center Lloyd Cushenberry on IR. The combination of three second- and/or third-string options led to the Broncos allowing 18 quarterback hits against the Titans.

The Broncos also waived wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland and signed defensive lineman Jonathan Harris to their active roster from the practice squad.

Broncos CB K’Waun Williams To Undergo Surgery; T Billy Turner Suffers Knee Injury

Starters continue to disappear from the Broncos’ equation. The team’s struggling offense and its top-performing defense, respectively, will lose a player apiece. K’Waun Williams and Billy Turner are set to miss time.

Williams, who has operated as Denver’s slot cornerback since being signed in March, is slated for arthroscopic knee surgery, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. The ninth-year veteran will miss at least four weeks, making him an IR candidate. The team’s preferred option at right tackle, Turner reinjured the knee that sidelined him for much of training camp and the Broncos’ early-season action. While Nathaniel Hackett called Turner week-to-week, a Russell Wilson Instagram post would seem to indicate a much longer absence could be on tap.

The Broncos finished Sunday’s game without Turner and center Graham Glasgow, who is being called day-to-day with a shoulder injury. That forced in third-string center Luke Wattenberg, a fifth-round rookie, and third-string right tackle Quinn Bailey. Denver has not activated Tom Compton, who was set to vie for the starting right tackle gig with Turner in camp, from its PUP list yet. The team has also lost left tackle Garett Bolles for the season and has center Lloyd Cushenberry on IR. Left with starting guards and a various third-stringers at the other O-line positions by game’s end, the Broncos allowed a staggering 18 quarterback hits in their loss to the Titans.

Turner initially created a market for himself by blocking for the first of Phillip Lindsay‘s two 1,000-yard seasons in 2018. The Packers invested in the former third-round Dolphins draftee. Turner played both guard and tackle during that 2018 platform season and signed a four-year, $28MM deal with the Packers, who also used him at tackle and guard. Green Bay cut Turner this offseason, but he followed Hackett to Denver via one-year, $2.5MM contract. Turner, 31, has played in four games and started three in his second tour of duty with the Broncos.

Denver, which has used a different Week 1 right tackle starter in each of the past 10 seasons, has seen injuries foil its latest plan at the position. The Broncos have until Wednesday to activate Compton; otherwise, the veteran blocker cannot play in 2022. Compton is also on a one-year deal (worth $2.25MM). Bailey, 27, has been with the Broncos since 2019 but has only logged 90 career offensive snaps. Right tackle stands to be a need yet again for the Broncos come 2023.

Williams, 31, joined Patrick Surtain II and Ronald Darby in forming the Broncos’ top corner trio. But Darby is out for the season. The Broncos will likely turn to former UDFA Essang Bassey at the slot spot, Klis adds. The 49ers’ slot corner for the past five seasons, Williams has not missed any time since signing with the Broncos. Pro Football Focus rates the veteran defender just outside the top 30 among corners.

The Broncos have five IR activations remaining. Cushenberry and Randy Gregory are positioned to return this year. Safety Caden Sterns and running back Mike Boone may as well. As the injuries pile up for the disappointing team, Williams could soon factor into this IR-return picture as well.

Broncos Activate Randy Gregory, Billy Turner From PUP List

The Broncos have received some good news with respect to injuries on both sides of the ball. The team announced on Monday that they have activated defensive end Randy Gregory and offensive lineman Billy Turner from the active/PUP list. 

Gregory was initially set to re-sign with the Cowboys on a five-year, $70MM deal, but he instead inked a contract in Denver with the same terms. The 29-year-old represented a unique case in terms of his age when hitting the open market, having missed the 2017 and 2019 seasons due to suspensions. His production last year, though, with six sacks in 12 games, made him an attractive target.

The lack of wear and tear on his body, in spite of his age, helped make Gregory the Broncos’ top priority in the edge rush department, even during an offseason where a reunion with Von Miller was possible. The former second-rounder is projected to be a starter and impact player on the edge in Denver. Shoulder surgery which took place shortly after signing with the Broncos made Gregory’s regular season availability a question mark, but today’s news is an encouraging step that he could be on the field for Week 1.

Likewise, a return to full health for Turner would be a significant development along the offensive line. The 30-year-old rejoined the Broncos on a one-year deal this offseason, after three years spent with Nathaniel Hackett in Green Bay. Once he resumes practicing in full, he will compete with Tom ComptonCalvin Anderson and Cameron Fleming for the starting right tackle spot – one which has been in flux for years in Denver. With 68 career starts, and plenty of familiarity with both the new coaching staff and the franchise, Turner should have a solid chance to win the first-team role.

The team’s announcement also confirmed the signing of veteran linebacker Joe SchobertHe, along with Gregory and Turner, should each have significant roles as the Broncos look to end their playoff drought.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/26/22

Today’s minor NFL transactions, including a handful of notable names landing on the physically unable to perform list and the non-football injury list as teams open up camp:

Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

  • Released with NFI designation: WR Cody Core

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Commanders

Broncos Notes: Offensive Line, Veteran CB Search, Javonte Williams

With OTAs and mandatory minicamp finished across the league, organizations and media members alike have had the chance to break down some of the elements of the offseason which have stood out the most to them. In the case of the Broncos, 9News’ Mike Klis has detailed some of his key observations.

Among those is the plethora of variances in the team’s offensive line combinations during practices. Klis notes that the most commonly-used unit comprised Garett Bolles and Dalton Risner on the left side, with Lloyd Cushenberry III at center and Quinn Meinerz and Calvin Anderson occupying right guard and right tackle, respectively.

There are a number of other options being plugged into various positions, though. Included among those is Netane Muti, who has seen work with the other starters while filling in at both guard positions, as well as Graham Glasgow, who recently returned to practice to compete for a starting role. Lastly, Klis lists Billy Turner as a veteran who is “expected to play” somewhere along the o-line. The 30-year-old came back to the Broncos on a one-year, $5MM deal this offseason, but is also the linemen most experienced in working with new HC Nathaniel Hackett. 

Here are a few other notes from that same Klis piece:

  • Cornerback had the potential to be an area of need, at least in terms of depth behind Patrick Surtain II, Ronald Darby and K’Waun Williams, at this point in the offseason. However, Klis cites the play of Michael Ojemudia during the spring as cause for optimism that the team’s best option for the No. 4 role may already be on the roster. The 2020 third-rounder is set to compete with Damarri Mathis, whom the Broncos drafted in the fourth round this year, for that spot. A number of veteran free agents could still “wind up on GM George Paton’s radar,” Klis notes, however.
  • To no surprise, running back Javonte Williams is expected to “bump up to the 1A role” in 2022. In his rookie season, the North Carolina alum produced over 1,200 scrimmage yards despite splitting carries with Melvin Gordon, who signed a one-year deal to stay in Denver. Given his the former’s efficiency, and the seven-year age gap between the two, Williams is the logical candidate to assume a larger workload going forward.


Broncos Sign OL Billy Turner

Billy Turner is returning to Denver. The Broncos are signing the offensive lineman to a one-year deal, according to Mike Klis of 9News in Denver (on Twitter). NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweets that the one-year pact is worth $5MM.

Turner joined the Broncos during the 2016 season, and he ended up spending the next two-plus seasons with the team. He established himself as a dependable starter during his final year with the team, and he earned a four-year, $28MM contract from the Packers in 2019.

The lineman ultimately spend three seasons in Green Bay, starting all 43 of his games. Following a 2021 campaign where Turner started 13 games before suffering a season-ending knee injury, the veteran was cut.

Now, he’ll land back in Denver. The Broncos were clearly on the hunt for a lineman; earlier this week, the team hosted both Turner and Brandon Shell. Ultimately, Turner’s familiarity with former Packers coaches Nathaniel Hackett (now Broncos HC) and Justin Outten (now Broncos OC) may have won him the gig. Turner will compete with Calvin Anderson and Tom Compton for reps at right tackle.

Packers Release Za’Darius Smith

In an expected move, the Packers are moving on from their other Smith-named pass rusher. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that Green Bay has released Za’Darius Smith (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: Packers Re-Sign Preston Smith]

ESPN’s Adam Schefter adds that the Packers were willing to keep Smith, 29 at the owed cash amount for the 2022 season, which was $15.75MM. However, this seems to be a mutual parting of ways for both parties, as the Packers get much-needed cap relief and Smith gets to hit the open market for the second time in his career.

While injuries limited him to a single game in 2021, Smith proved his worth to the Packers the previous two seasons he was there. After coming to Green Bay following his time in Baltimore, the former fourth rounder totalled 26 sacks in 2019 and 2020, earning Pro Bowl nods along the way both times. Given that production, as well as his age, he will likely command a lucrative third deal this offseason.

Since he was released prior to the beginning of the league year, Smith will not gain the Packers a compensatory pick when he signs elsewhere. That will add to the number of teams interested in his services, putting Smith at or near the top of a free agent edge rusher class which already includes other established sack artists like Von Miller and Chandler Jones.

In related news, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweets that the Packers are releasing right tackle Billy Turner. The 30-year-old had spent the past three seasons in Green Bay, but he will likewise begin the search for a new home.

With these two moves, the Packers have trimmed roughly $18.5MM off of their cap. The team has more work to be done to become cap compliant, but the bulk of that effort is now finished.

Whitney Mercilus Designated For Return

The Packers signed Whitney Mercilus in the aftermath of Za’Darius Smith‘s back surgery, but the NFC North champions played without both for the stretch run. A possibility each is back next week now exists.

Green Bay designated Mercilus to return from IR on Thursday, starting his 21-day activation clock. This is a surprise, given Mercilus’ biceps tear occurring in mid-November. DC Joe Barry conceded as much, indicating he was not expecting a return to practice this soon.

Barry’s stance may point to Mercilus being an option ahead of the NFC championship game or Super Bowl LVI — assuming, of course, the Packers’ season extends beyond next weekend — but the conference’s No. 1 seed could look drastically different when it returns to action.

David Bakhtiari missed 16 games this season but returned for the Packers’ Week 18 tilt, while O-line mate Josh Myers played in Detroit as well after being out since Week 6. Smith and Jaire Alexander are also trending toward returning for the divisional round. Ditto Randall Cobb, who must be activated by next week to play again this season. Starting right tackle Billy Turner was also back at practice this week. Turner has not played since suffering a knee injury in Week 14, though the Packers did not place him on IR.

Mercilus coming back would give the Packers a formidable two-deep edge-rushing contingent. The longtime Texans outside linebacker would almost certainly be a rotational rusher behind the likes of Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Rashan Gary. Mercilus, 31, signed with the Packers after his October Texans release. Used in a part-time capacity by both his 2021 teams, Mercilus has four sacks this season. The former J.J. Watt sidekick has 58 career sacks and has also been productive in the playoffs, having registered seven sacks in eight postseason games.