Ronald Leary

AFC West Notes: Chiefs, Raiders, Leary

Let’s take a quick look at the AFC West, beginning with the division’s three-time reigning champion on the eve of a rather important game.

  • The Chiefs‘ New England visits over the past two seasons have included monster stat lines from their running back corps. While the player responsible for most of that production (Kareem Hunt) is long gone, the Chiefs will also be without starter Damien Williams for Sunday’s Patriots game. Kansas City’s Hunt successor remains out due to a rib injury, set to miss a second straight game. The Chiefs placed Darrel Williams on IR earlier this week and will take a LeSean McCoySpencer WareDarwin Thompson contingent to Foxborough.
  • Set for perhaps a do-or-die game, regarding their playoff aspirations, the Raiders will do so without their largest player. Trent Brown will miss Sunday’s game against the Titans with a pectoral injury. Second-year player Brandon Parker will start at right tackle. A second-round pick, Parker made 12 starts as a rookie but was replaced when the Raiders doled out a record contract for Brown.
  • When Jon Gruden pulled Derek Carr during a blowout loss against the Jets, Mike Glennon took the snaps. Should Carr go down or be benched again this season, that would not be the case. The Raiders promoted DeShone Kizer to their backup spot, Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area Notes. Kizer has been Oakland’s QB3 this season, inactive each game. He will suit up as a Raider for the first time, displacing Glennon in that role. The Raiders claimed Kizer, the Browns’ primary 2017 starter and a Packers backup last season, shortly after roster cutdown day.
  • Ronald Leary‘s 12 games this season represent his most with the Broncos, but Denver will have a new right guard Sunday. A concussion will sideline Leary and move Austin Schlottman into the starting lineup, per Mike Klis of 9News. A UDFA out of TCU, Schlottman spent last season on Denver’s practice squad and has played 10 NFL snaps. Leary will exit Week 14 having missed 16 games during his three-year Broncos tenure and looms as a cap-casualty candidate next year. The Broncos can save nearly $9MM by cutting the soon-to-be 31-year-old blocker, who has one season remaining on his contract.

Broncos Rumors: Jackson, Harris, Leary

While the cornerstone Broncos secondary cog remains away from the team, the player that helped (indirectly) create the Chris Harris situation may be slated for a hybrid role. Kareem Jackson has continued to line up at safety during Broncos OTAs, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post notes. Given $11MM AAV in March, Jackson joins Justin Simmons as a first-string safety when the team has used its base formation thus far. However, the longtime Texans cornerback moves into his more familiar role when the Broncos shift to their sub-packages, O’Halloran adds. Jackson spent some of the 2018 offseason at safety and began the regular season there, but once Andre Hal returned after his cancer diagnosis, Jackson was shuttled back to corner.

The Broncos appear to be planning to use Harris and Bryce Callahan as base corners, with Jackson and Simmons on the back line. Denver released four-year safety starter Darian Stewart earlier this year and did not use a draft choice on a safety. Oft-used sub player Will Parks remains behind Jackson and Simmons, however, with Su’a Cravens and Jamal Carter still in the mix. But it is not known yet who Simmons’ sidekick in nickel and dime sets will be.

Shifting to the latest on Harris, here is more from Denver:

  • The ice between Harris and John Elway appears to be thawing. The sides have resumed negotiations, and the All-Pro corner’s $15MM asking price has come down a bit. It appears Harris will be receiving a raise, and Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets the Broncos and their ninth-year corner are discussing what would be a “big” 2019 salary spike. But interestingly, said big raise may just be for this season. Teams normally like to add control in exchange for salary hikes, but at this point, Harris may still be headed toward a contract year and 2020 free agency. The prospective one-year bump centers around the reality that the Broncos need Harris to contend this season, Renck adds.
  • Continuing with the Denver secondary, Simmons is entering his walk year. The 2016 third-round pick became a full-time player for the Broncos in 2017 and was their only defender to play every snap last season (1,078). Simmons is focused on a Broncos extension. “Obviously when it’s all said and done, if I had a choice I would stay here,”Simmons said (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, subscription required), “not even a question of looking elsewhere or anything like that.” The Broncos have three starters from the 2016 draft, with Adam Gotsis and Connor McGovern 1.0 also in contract years, but it is not certain any will command lofty salaries. The Broncos’ highest-profile walk-year players are seasoned veterans (Harris, Emmanuel Sanders) rather than rookie-salary cogs on the verge of big money.
  • Ronald Leary has ended both of his Broncos campaigns on IR, last season’s Achilles injury occurring in October. But the veteran guard is set to be back as a starter, after seeing $5MM in 2019 injury guarantees kick in earlier this year. The 30-year-old blocker is on track to begin participating in OTAs next week, Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio tweets. The Broncos have moved Leary back to right guard, where he played in 2017. Leary was not on board with being moved to left guard last year, Marvez adds. Second-round pick Dalton Risner is expected to be Denver’s starting left guard.

Broncos Rumors: Murray, Paradis, Keenum

Although the Broncos agreed to acquire Joe Flacco, they will still be linked to this year’s top rookie quarterbacks — as they were last year. If Kyler Murray is available at No. 10, they may serve as a spot for teams looking to trade up. John Elway does not appear to believe the shorter passer would be a fit for an offense that will use plenty of under-center looks under new OC Rich Scangarello, per Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). The Broncos passed on Josh Allen and Josh Rosen last year and have been connected to Drew Lock. If Denver sticks at No. 10 and chooses a non-quarterback, the team will have had back-to-back top-10 picks without addressing its long-term QB need with one of them. The 2020 draft is expected to have high-profile passers, but it’s obviously no lock the Broncos will be in position to draft or trade up for one.

Here is the latest from Denver (via Indianapolis):

  • Despite the Flacco deal, Elway’s preference is to keep Case Keenum. It would take a restructured deal, though, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets. Keenum is attached an untenable $21MM cap number. With Flacco set to bring an $18.5MM figure to Denver, it is hard to see Keenum staying due to the pay cut it would require. The 30-year-old incumbent has not requested a trade, Elway said (per the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran, on Twitter), adding the Broncos would allow him to seek one.
  • Matt Paradis probably looms as the Broncos’ top free agent priority. Elway has spoken with the Broncos’ center of the past four years and informed him they would like him back, Jhabvala tweets. But Paradis’ injury and price point will be a factor. The 29-year-old snapper has been expected to reach free agency, where a new market-setting deal may well await him — considering teams’ need for higher-end linemen. However, multiple executives predicted (via O’Halloran, Twitter link) Paradis will end up back in Denver on a one-year deal because of the broken fibula that ended his season last November.
  • The Broncos’ need for a cornerback is as great as it has been in five years, and Elway acknowledged (via Klis, on Twitter) the team needs to find a No. 2 corner to team with All-Pro Chris Harris. This would seem to point to Bradley Roby departing, which has been the expectation. Vic Fangio said (via Jhabvala) the Broncos will let Roby test free agency, a good sign he will not be back in 2019.
  • As for Harris, Elway said the team has not considered an extension yet and whether or not the Broncos do go in this direction will depend on their free agency period, per Troy Renck of Denver7 (on Twitter). However, Renck added earlier (Twitter link) the expectation is the Broncos will meet with Harris’ agent at the Combine. The 29-year-old corner has been one of Denver’s cornerstone players this decade, and with Roby likely to leave and Aqib Talib having been traded, Harris represents the Broncos’ only surefire option at corner. Denver is also set to let Tramaine Brock walk.
  • On its offensive line, Denver will bring back Ronald Leary, Elway confirmed (via Jhabvala, on Twitter). Leary has more than $5MM in injury guarantees due if he cannot pass a physical by March 17. It’s been previously reported the veteran guard will be unable to pass said physical by then. Leary has seen both of his Denver seasons end early because of injury. Also on the Broncos’ O-line: Elway said (per Renck, on Twitter) the team would like to re-sign right tackle starter Jared Veldheer and utility blocker Billy Turner. If Veldheer departs, the Broncos would have a sixth Week 1 right tackle starter in six years.

Broncos Notes: Harris, Flacco, LBs, Leary

With Aqib Talib having been traded and Bradley Roby likely to leave Denver as a free agent, the Broncos have work to do to repair their once-formidable cornerback corps. However, the third player from the team’s longtime trio may be in position to sign a third contract soon. Chris Harris is entering a contract year, and with the Broncos having no other foundational pieces at this position, it would seemingly behoove them to enter into extension talks with their versatile All-Pro. Harris has said he is open to signing a third Broncos contract, and Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post writes the 29-year-old defender will be on the 2019 team, as opposed to being shopped around, and is a likely target for an extension. One of this era’s premier corners, Harris nonetheless has a manageable cap number this season ($8.77MM), so an extension would stand to be more about keeping him in the fold than reducing his 2019 figure.

Denver is also expected to let Tramaine Brock walk, so cornerback — for the first time since the Broncos swapped out Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for Talib and Roby five years ago — is a major need for this franchise.

Here is the latest from Denver, shifting to its quarterback decision:

  • Joe Flacco will be the fourth Broncos Week 1 starting quarterback in the past five seasons, and thus far the reaction to Denver’s move has skewed negative. But multiple executives viewed this as potentially a short-term gain, with O’Halloran noting one called this a solid move for both the Broncos and Ravens and another seeing the 34-year-old passer having multiple good years left. One defensive assistant, however, disagreed, viewing the veteran as having little quality football left. Flacco has not ranked above 19th in QBR since the 2014 season, when he was ninth. The Broncos will attempt to place him in a similar offense to the Gary Kubiak-coordinated attack that unleashed Flacco five years ago, but with so much time passing, it’s obviously no guarantee Flacco can return to form.
  • The Broncos prioritized Brandon Marshall over Danny Trevathan three years ago, in extending the former and letting the latter walk as a free agent. But in cutting Marshall this week, the Broncos jettisoned their top coverage linebacker. They are expected to look for help on this front in the draft, Mike Klis of 9News notes. Denver still has plus run defender Todd Davis and 2018 fourth-rounder Josey Jewell, but Klis writes the team will look for a rangier addition to complement its incumbents.
  • Offensive line will also be a need for the Broncos, with free agent center Matt Paradis‘ status up in the air. But one member is in line to return. Ronald Leary will not be ready to pass a physical by March 17, Klis tweets. This would fully guarantee $5.35MM of the guard’s $8.1MM salary. Unless the Broncos want to eat a reasonable amount of dead money, as they did upon releasing Menelik Watson last year, Leary can be expected back. The 29-year-old guard has played well in Denver but finished the past two seasons on IR, a 2018 Achilles injury shelving him after seven games.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/20/18

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Denver Broncos

  • Signed off Jets’ practice squad: C Nico Falah
  • Placed on IR: G Ronald Leary

Los Angeles Chargers

New York Jets

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Broncos’ Ronald Leary Out For Season

The highest-paid interior lineman in Broncos history will not be available for the 2018 team’s final 10 games. The fears surrounding a possible Achilles’ tendon tear for Ronald Leary turned out to be justified.

Leary will miss the rest of the season, Vance Joseph confirmed Monday. The veteran guard went down midway through the Broncos’ 23-20 loss to the Rams on Sunday. Max Garcia and Connor McGovern had been rotating at right guard on Sunday; that duo will now comprise Denver’s starting guards.

Signed to a four-year deal worth $36MM, Leary will end a second straight season on IR. He missed the final five games of the 2017 season because of a back injury. Leary’s knees had caused him issues in the past, leading to his undrafted status and most recently requiring an arthroscopic procedure this offseason. But he returned and started Denver’s first six games and delivered quality work for a Broncos team that, despite its four-game skid, enjoyed consistent success on the ground.

The Broncos’ rushing attack figures to sustain a hit with Leary out, which will further diminish their chances of avoiding another lost season. Leary hasn’t played 16 games in a season since 2013.

Leary’s status for 2019 may now be tenuous because of another injury. He will turn 30 next year, and his contract calls for $9.375MM cap number. The Broncos would be tagged with only $1.75MM in dead money by shedding it. Garcia is a free agent after this season, while McGovern is under contract through 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Fear G Ronald Leary Has Torn Achilles

More bad news for the Broncos. Right tackle Jared Veldheer has already missed the team’s last couple of games, and now it looks like the Denver could be without their best interior lineman for the remainder of the season.

The Broncos’ initial diagnosis of guard Ronald Leary is a torn Achilles, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). If that’s the case, Leary will miss the rest of the season. It’s a huge blow to the Broncos’ offensive line, which is already light on depth.

The Broncos benched their other starting guard, Connor McGovern, ahead of the team’s loss today. McGovern and his replacement, Max Garcia, will presumably both start now moving forward. Denver has now lost four straight games after starting the season 2-0, and is in free-fall. Coach Vance Joseph has been on the hot seat seemingly since the beginning of the year, and this loss certainly won’t help him in his quest to keep his job.

Leary, 29, has two years left on the four-year $36MM deal he signed with the Broncos before the 2017 season. He was a heavily sought after free agent after spending his first four seasons with the Cowboys, where he was one of the best guards in the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Notes: Heckert, Kelly, Leary

On Monday, the Broncos announced that former personnel executive Tom Heckert has died. Heckert, who also served as the GM of the Eagles and Browns, was widely beloved in the football world. After battling amyloidosis for a lengthy period, Heckert passed away peacefully on Sunday night in the company of his family.

Tom was an integral part of our organization and we’re all incredibly saddened today,” GM John Elway said in a statement. “With his many years of experience and time as a GM, Tom was a tremendous resource and a key member of our team. He was a very good evaluator—He had an eye for talent, and we always trusted his voice. It’s easy to see why Tom was widely respected and had so many great relationships across the league. I’ll always be grateful for how he helped me transition into this position. My prayers go out to Tom’s family, friends and everyone he worked with during his career.”

With Heckert’s memory in mind, here’s more from Denver:

  •  Former Mr. Irrelevant Chad Kelly could wind up as the team’s backup quarterback behind Case Keenum, coach Vance Joseph told reporters on Sunday. For now, former first-round pick Paxton Lynch is taking practice reps with the second-team offense, but it’s a situation to keep an eye on. In theory, if the Broncos feel confident in Kelly’s ability, they could shop Lynch to other teams. Although Lynch hasn’t done a whole lot in his NFL career, he was on the radar of several teams before the Broncos selected him No. 26 overall in 2016, so the Broncos might be able to get something in return for him.
  • This week, Joseph told reporters that Broncos left guard Ronald Leary underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in late May (via Mike Klis of 9News). It appears that Leary is still dealing with some effects of the procedure, and he was held out of Sunday’s scrimmage as a precaution.
  • The Broncos and center Matt Paradis are discussing a new deal.

Broncos To Place RG Ron Leary On IR

The Broncos are expected to place right guard Ron Leary on injured reserve, a locker room source tells Mike Klis of 9 News (Twitter link). The team will formally shut him down for the season this week and replace him on the 53-man roster with another player. 

Leary became the highest-paid guard in Broncos history when he inked a four-year, $36MM deal with the team this past offseason. Some teams shied away from Leary due to his history of knee issues, but he stayed healthy – up until this point- and earned a career-high 81.2 overall score from Pro Football Focus. As of this writing, he is PFF’s No. 11 ranked guard this year, ahead of notables such as Kevin Zeitler, Richie Incognito, T.J. Lang, and Kelechi Osemele.

The former UDFA is under contract with Denver through the 2020 season and is slated to carry an $8.875 cap number next year.

Of course, the 4-9 Broncos aren’t playing for much in December. If the season ended today, they would own the No. 5 pick in the draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Rumors: Leary, Ingram, 49ers

The AFC West produced by far the biggest news this weekend, with the Chargers and Melvin Ingram agreeing to a four-year, $66MM extension that comes with $42MM guaranteed. Here’s more coming out of the Western divisions, as seven of the divisions’ eight teams are scheduled to hold their mandatory minicamps from Tuesday-Thursday.

  • The agreement between Ingram and the Chargers is not yet official, but only a Monday trip to Chargers park in San Diego and a pending physical remain before Ingram signs the contract and becomes the third-richest defender in the AFC West, Dan Woike of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. This will clear a path for Ingram to participate in minicamp. Von Miller‘s six-year, $114MM pact and Justin Houston‘s six-year, $101MM agreement surpass Ingram’s. But the gap between Ingram and the division’s fourth-highest-paid defender (per AAV), Eric Berry, is significant. The AFC West figures to soon house four top-tier defensive contracts once the Raiders extend Khalil Mack at a price that could well surpass Miller’s agreement.
  • Ronald Leary became by far the highest-paid guard in Broncos history after signing a four-year, $36MM deal. Leary agreed to the Broncos’ offer just before free agency opened, but other teams may have had concerns about the now-29-year-old blocker. An anonymous NFL evaluator said, via Mike Sando of (Insider link), teams were nervous about “knee issues” associated with the sixth-year player. Leary was diagnosed with a degenerative knee condition prior to his NFL career and underwent knee surgery while at Memphis. This ended up affecting Leary’s draft status in 2012, when he went undrafted, but the interior lineman proved to be a quality performer during lengthy starting stays in Dallas — the latest of which earned him the Denver deal.
  • The 49ers quickly cut bait on wide receiver K.D. Cannon coming out of their rookie minicamp and filled his roster spot with a Georgia Southern wideout named B.J. Johnson. The coaching staff was so impressed by the 6-foot-1 tryout player they gave him a roster spot, and it turned out to be Cannon’s. While Matt Maiocco of notes questions about the urgency Cannon exhibited during the workouts emerged, new 49ers wide receivers coach Mike LaFleur said the swap was more related to Johnson’s performance that weekend. “Nothing happened with K.D. Cannon,” LaFleur said. “It had nothing do with K.D. It was more of a testament to what B.J. showed.” Cannon, who finished his Baylor career No. 3 in receiving yardage in program history, caught on with the Jets.
  • It’s “very possible” Derek Carr could become the NFL’s first $25MM-per-year player.
  • The Cardinals don’t want Jeremy Maclin, but they still have their eye on some free agents, per Steve Keim. Arizona was one of the few teams that opted to conduct its minicamp this week, so the Cards don’t have another team activity until training camp.