Tim Patrick

Broncos WR Tim Patrick Signs RFA Tender

Despite the Broncos drafting wide receivers with their first- and second-round picks in 2020, they gave former UDFA Tim Patrick a second-round RFA tender in March. Patrick signed that tender Tuesday.

Patrick will make $3.384MM on this tender, barring an extension. He is expected to be a key option — be it as a starter or the top wideout off the bench — for Drew Lock and/or Teddy Bridgewater this season.

A Utah alum, Patrick became Lock’s most reliable target in 2020. The Broncos lost Courtland Sutton for the season in Week 2, and K.J. Hamler battled injuries during his rookie campaign. The 6-foot-4 Patrick more than doubled his previous career-high marks for receptions and yardage, hauling in 51 passes for 742 yards. His six touchdown grabs doubled the next-closest Bronco.

Both Patrick and Sutton are entering contract years, with the latter doing so after an ACL tear. Sutton would profile as an extension candidate for a Broncos team that has been the main suitor connected to Aaron Rodgers thus far. One of Denver’s receivers may factor into such a trade, should this saga reach the negotiation stage, and Patrick could play a part there. It would be unlikely the Broncos part with 2020 first-rounder Jerry Jeudy, who can be kept on his rookie contract through 2024.

Denver just waived DaeSean Hamilton, after the supporting-caster suffered an ACL tear last week. Barring any Rodgers offer that includes a receiver, the Broncos are set to go with a Sutton-Jeudy-Hamler-Patrick quartet in 2021. Patrick is due for unrestricted free agency next year.

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Broncos Tender LB Alexander Johnson At Round 2 Level

The Broncos’ Phillip Lindsay RFA tender opens the door to his Denver exit. The franchise gave a higher-priority tender to one of its three-down linebackers.

Denver will tender Alexander Johnson at the second-round level, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post (on Twitter). Johnson and wide receiver Tim Patrick received second-round tenders, which come out to $3.4MM this year.

An unusual RFA, Johnson will turn 30 this year. A legal issue delayed his NFL career, but the former Tennessee Volunteer has thrived after receiving his opportunity in Denver. The Broncos turned to Johnson as their starting middle linebacker early in the 2019 season, and he has become one of the league’s better off-ball ‘backers. Joining Josey Jewell as Denver starting linebackers going into contract years, Johnson led the 2020 team in tackles with 124.

Given his age, Johnson may not be a candidate for a long-term deal. But he could be in the mix for either a medium-length Broncos extension before the mid-June RFA deadline or draw interest for a similarly structured pact in unrestricted free agency next year.

Both Johnson and Patrick were expected to draw interest from other teams, had the Broncos tendered them at the right-of-first-refusal level. The Broncos did place the low-end tender on Linsday, whose profile exceeds both Johnson and Patrick’s. It will be interesting to see if the Pro Bowl running back draws an offer sheet. Any offer sheet that comes for Patrick or Johnson would require the signing team to send a second-round pick to the Broncos, should they fail to match. This scenario seems unlikely, pointing both players back to Denver for the 2021 season.

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Broncos GM On Von Miller, Drew Lock, Phillip Lindsay

George Paton is the Broncos’ new GM, and he’s got his work cut out for him during his first offseason at the helm. Several big decisions loom, including what to do with Von Miller and at quarterback. Speaking to the media Thursday, Paton got into all that and more.

We’ve heard that the Broncos are preparing to franchise tag safety Justin Simmons for the second year in a row, but it sounds like they really want to get an extension done. “Justin is one of our core guys. Our goal is to sign him to a long-term deal,” Paton said, via a tweet from Troy Renck of ABC Denver 7. Simmons seems to be on the same page, reiterating in a recent interview with Sirius XM NFL radio (Twitter link) that he wants to be with the Broncos for the future. “It seems like Denver wants me back, and I want to be there,” Simmons said in part.

As for Miller, he’s got an option that guarantees him significant money that needs to be picked up by March 16th. We’ve heard the team wants him to take a bit of a pay-cut to return in 2021, and Paton said that he’s still working through the details of the option with his agent. “We want to bring Von back. Obviously the legal process, it’s a serious situation. I don’t know all the details. But respect what’s going on. But we do want Von back.” Paton was referring of course to the legal investigation that stems from allegations made by his ex-fiancee. Even with that looming, it sounds like Paton wants to keep the franchise icon in the fold if the financials can work.

Phillip Lindsay is a restricted free agent since he’s a former UDFA, and Paton said the team wants him back as well. “Phillip’s a good player, very passionate. Obviously had some injuries last year. He’s a good player, brings energy, brings juice. He’s a restricted free agent, we do plan on tendering him. I’m not sure what level but we want Phillip here,” he said, via Mike Klis of Denver 9 News (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, Klis writes that fellow restricted free agent receiver Tim Patrick is expected to get a second-round tender from the Broncos. That would pay him around $3.4MM in 2021. Patrick is coming off a career year where he had 746 yards and six touchdowns. If the team decides $3.4MM is too steep for Lindsay as a split-time running back, they’d tender him at the original-round level, which would mean a team signing him to an offer sheet wouldn’t have to give up any draft pick.

Finally, Paton also talked about the elephant in the room, Drew Lock and his job security. “Obviously did a deep dive with Drew. Very talented, was inconsistent at times. Has a lot to work on. I’ve spoken with Drew, he’s here every day. He’s here early. He really wants to be great,” Paton said, before adding we’re always going to try and bring in competition at every position and quarterback as well. But I like the track that Drew is on,” Klis tweets.

Those certainly don’t sound like the words of someone who’s committed to Lock as his 2021 starter. Things are up in the air, but we should continue to expect Denver to sniff around potential upgrades while having Lock as the fall-back option if nothing falls into their laps.

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Broncos RFAs Expected To Draw Interest

Preparing to use their franchise tag on Justin Simmons for a second straight year, the Broncos do not have a high number of unrestricted free agents that would seemingly factor prominently into their big picture. (Though, defensive lineman Shelby Harris would qualify as such a player.)

But Denver does have a few intriguing restricted free agents, and teams are believed to be monitoring a couple of those players’ statuses. Should the Broncos fail to place at least a second-round tender on RFAs Alexander Johnson or Tim Patrick, interest in those contributors will develop quickly, Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com notes.

An unusual RFA due to his age, the 29-year-old Johnson has worked as a three-down linebacker with Denver for most of Vic Fangio‘s two seasons. Pro Football Focus has graded Johnson as a top-25 off-ball ‘backer in each of those seasons. Johnson made 124 tackles last season, teaming with Josey Jewell in Denver’s sub-packages. Jewell is going into a contract year.

Despite the Broncos becoming the first team since the 2003 Cardinals to use first- and second-round picks on wideouts in the same draft — in Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler — Patrick led the team with six receiving touchdowns and amassed a career-high 742 receiving yards. The Broncos leaned on their 6-foot-4 ex-UDFA in key spots after Courtland Sutton‘s season-ending injury. Sutton is going into a contract year in 2021.

Should the Broncos place second-round RFA tenders on Johnson and Patrick, they would have the right to match an offer sheet. A refusal to do so would mean a second-round pick coming Denver’s way. Round 2 RFA tenders are expected to come in around $3.3MM, per OverTheCap. The rarely used first-round tender is expected to cost around $4.8MM.

Interestingly, Phillip Lindsay‘s status may be murkier. The Broncos paused extension talks with their Pro Bowl running back last year, giving Melvin Gordon an $8MM-AAV contract instead. It is unclear if Lindsay will receive a second-round tender, per Legwold, or if the Broncos will give the two-time 1,000-yard rusher the right-of-first-refusal tender. The latter scenario would mean the team would receive no compensation if it refused to match a Lindsay offer sheet. A similar situation unfolded five years ago, when the Broncos gave C.J. Anderson the low-end tender but matched a Dolphins offer sheet. Gordon is under contract for 2021, but his DUI arrest and expected suspension leaves the six-year veteran’s $8.9MM cap number vulnerable.

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RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/16/20

Monday’s restricted free agent and exclusive rights free agent tender decisions will be posted below. Deals will be updated throughout the day.

RFAs

Tendered at original-round level:

Non-tendered:

ERFAs

Tendered:

Non-tendered:

  • Chiefs: TE David Wells

Broncos Place Bryce Callahan On IR

It’s now official. The Broncos placed cornerback Bryce Callahan on IR, per a press release from the team. To take his place on the roster, the club will activate wide receiver Tim Patrick from IR. 

The Broncos gave Callahan a three-year, $21MM deal with $10MM guaranteed. The former Bears slot standout, unfortunately, has yet to play a down in Denver. This comes after last season’s letdown – he ended the 2018 campaign on Chicago’s IR with a broken foot. This year, he aggravated that injury in training camp.

Callahan was one of three high-profile Broncos free agent additions, joining Kareem Jackson and Ja’Wuan James. While Jackson has delivered in his first full season as a safety, James has missed most of this season. Two out of three ain’t bad, but one out of three is….pretty bad.

The Broncos are 3-6 with nearly no chance of seeing the playoffs this year. On the plus side – they managed to beat the Browns in their last time out and they’ll be ticketed for a high first-round draft pick, provided that they don’t mess things up by winning too much the rest of the way.

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Designated To Return: Broncos, Lions, Titans

With roughly half of the 2019 campaign in the books, NFL clubs have started to exercise their right to return players from injured reserve. Each team is allowed to bring two players back from IR, but said players must have been retained on their respective club’s initial 53-man roster. Once an IR player returns to practice, his club will have three weeks to decide whether to activate him to their 53-man roster; if he’s not activated, the player will remain on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.

Here are three players who have been designated to return from IR this week:

  • Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick has returned to practice and has been designated to return, as Mike Klis of 9News tweets. A 2017 undrafted free agent, Patrick suffered a broken hand in Week 1 of the 2019 campaign but is now ready for action. Patrick broke out in the final month of last season, posting 19 receptions for 242 yards during the last quarter of the campaign. When he returns to game action, Patrick could see a significant role in a now Emmanuel Sanders-less receiving corps.
  • The Lions have designated defensive end Austin Bryant to return from IR, and he practiced Wednesday, the club announced today. Bryant was selected in the fourth round of the 2019 draft, so he’s yet to play an NFL snap. During his final two seasons at Clemson, Bryant posted 17 sacks and 30.5 tackles for loss. If activated, Bryant could help a Detroit defensive line that currently ranks bottom-seven in both adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate, per Football Outsiders.
  • Defensive back Josh Kalu has been designated to return from IR by the Titans, per Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com (Twitter link). An undrafted free agent out of Nebraska in 2018, Kalu spent most of last year on Tennessee’s practice squad before being promoted in December. He played in five games and saw action on 48 special teams snaps.

Broncos Notes: Sanders, Harris, Patrick

A year after trading the other half of their Super Bowl 50 starting receiver tandem, the Broncos dealt Emmanuel Sanders to the 49ers. The interest in Sanders had escalated to the point five teams were in on him, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic notes (subscription required). John Elway hinted at a Sanders-related event occurring between the Titans and Chiefs games, with Jhabvala adding it didn’t sit well with the GM. Sanders also wanted to be traded, per Jhabvala, and expressed that desire in a meeting with Elway and Vic Fangio last week.

This Broncos return — third- and fourth-round picks — is considerably better than the one they fetched for Demaryius Thomas, whom the Texans acquired for a fourth-rounder last October. Sanders had grown into Denver’s top wideout last season and rehabbed an Achilles tear to the point he was a key factor in this Broncos offense. But over the past three games, the 32-year-old took a backseat to Courtland Sutton and had caught just seven passes for 69 yards. The Broncos now have seven picks in the first four rounds of the 2020 draft.

Here is the latest from the Broncos, who may not be done selling.

  • Interest has naturally developed for Chris Harris, but the teams that were interested added other corners in recent days, per Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). The Texans pursued Harris but instead acquired Gareon Conley from the Raiders for a third-rounder, pointing to the Broncos setting a higher asking price for their four-time Pro Bowler. With Wade Phillips running the Rams’ defense, it’s likely they were interested in reuniting Harris and Aqib Talib. They bet bigger on Jalen Ramsey instead. Harris will obviously be a name to watch before the Oct. 29 trade deadline.
  • The contract-year corner is expected to test the market next year, after he and the Broncos could not come to terms on an extension this offseason. But Harris said he has not approached Elway about a deal now and still wants to finish his career with the Broncos, per Jhabvala (Twitter links). The Broncos do not have an obvious replacement for Harris like they did with Sanders (DaeSean Hamilton), so a trade there would stand to limit the 2019 team more.
  • An interesting piece of the Broncos’ IR equation will take shape as a result of the Sanders trade. Elway said Tim Patrick will be one of the team’s IR-return players. Patrick, an auxiliary wideout for last season’s Denver team, cannot return until Week 11. With Drew Lock having returned to practice, this points to the Broncos’ two spots being spoken for. That would leave Theo Riddick and Jake Butt in line to miss the season. The Broncos signed Riddick for one year and $2.5MM.
  • Being without safety starter Will Parks, the Broncos auditioned veterans Marcus Gilchrist and Kentrell Brice, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Gilchrist spent last season with the Raiders and was a Charger from 2011-14. Brice started 10 games for the Packers last season and spent time with the Buccaneers earlier this year. Denver also worked out defensive linemen DeShawn Williams and Joel Heath.

Drew Lock To Return To Broncos Practice

Despite Joe Flacco enduring a rough Thursday night against the Chiefs, the Broncos as of now do not have a viable alternative at quarterback. Their depth chart, however, could return to full strength soon.

Drew Lock will practice next week, Vic Fangio said (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, on Twitter). The second-round rookie has been out since midway through Denver’s preseason slate with a sprained right thumb. He can come off IR in Week 9.

Interestingly, two other players on the Broncos’ IR list — Theo Riddick and wideout Tim Patrick — will join Lock in returning to practice. IR rules stipulate the Broncos can only activate one of them, so either Riddick or Patrick will end up on season-ending IR soon.

Flacco lost his Ravens job to a rookie last season, with Lamar Jackson usurping him while the longtime Baltimore starter was out with injury. Flacco fared poorly in the Broncos’ latest nationally televised spot, pointing to another benching at some point in this season’s second half.

It would stand to reason the 2-5 Broncos will want to give Lock time down the stretch. While the University of Missouri product did not have a strong preseason, the Broncos’ worst start in two decades points them toward evaluation mode. Determining if Lock is a realistic future starter will be key for a team that could still consider taking another quarterback in the 2020 draft.

Since Patrick landed on IR after the Broncos’ Week 1 game, he cannot return to action until Week 9. Patrick showed some promise as a rookie, catching 23 passes for 315 yards and a touchdown. This season’s Broncos offense has not featured much in the passing game beyond Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders, with DaeSean Hamilton playing a more limited role.

Riddick chose the Broncos over interest from the Saints and other teams but went down during Denver’s preseason slate. A shoulder fracture shelved Riddick, but the longtime Lions passing-down back will have a chance to begin his age-28 season soon.

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Minor NFL Transactions: 9/11/19

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Chicago Bears

  • Released from IR via injury settlement: TE Dax Raymond

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

  • Released from IR via injury settlement: OL Kyle Kalis

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Indianapolis Colts

  • Promoted from practice squad: S Rolan Milligan
  • Released from IR via injury settlement: LB Ahmad Thomas

New York Giants

  • Released from IR via injury settlement: WR Alex Wesley

Philadelphia Eagles

Tampa Bay Buccaneers