Broncos HC Vic Fangio said earlier this month that he expects TE Albert Okwuegbunam to be limited at the start of training camp. "Probably not right off the bat full speed," he said, referring to Okwuegbunam and CB Essang Bassey, both coming off ACL tears. "They'll have to be managed, but the both are doing very well." We'll see about Okwuegbunam's participation as camp gets going, but being active at any level seems like a positive coming off a November ACL tear. Of course, any limitations for him can only be good news for Noah Fant's target opportunity.
Broncos HC Vic Fangio plans to split reps evenly between QBs Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock this offseason. "It will be something that at the end of the day, maybe not at the end of every day but over the course of OTAs and training camp, it’ll be 50-50," Fangio said. That suggests that this is a wide-open competition. Lock and Bridgewater could hardly be more different: Lock an aggressive gunslinger, Bridgewater and more conservative but accurate passer. We'll see how this shakes out, but neither guy can be considered more than a QB3 in best-ball drafts right now. Of course, whoever wins the job will have some fantasy upside thanks to Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Noah Fant.
The Broncos nabbed WR Seth Williams in Round 6 of the 2021 NFL Draft. Williams goes 6’3, 211 pounds with 4.5 speed and a 37-inch vertical. He struck us as 1 of the more impressive size-athleticism prospects in this year’s WR class. And while his raw numbers weren’t big at Auburn, he topped a 30% share of receiving yards and TDs as a sophomore and junior the past 2 years. The tape is frustratingly inconsistent, though. Williams will make a highlight-reel grab 1 play, then run a lazy route or drop a pass the next. He’s the definition of a boom/bust prospect. But he’s 1 of just a handful of WRs in this class with alpha potential. The low draft capital spent certainly doesn't help his outlook. And he joins a crowded Denver WR corps, led by Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler. We'll see how things go from here.
The Broncos traded up 5 spots in the 2nd round to take North Carolina RB Javonte Williams with the 35th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. Williams shared UNC’s backfield with Michael Carter, forming a thunder and lightning duo over the past 2 seasons. 2020 was a true breakout for Williams (5’10, 212) with 1,140 yards and 19 TDs on 157 attempts. He added a strong 25-305-3 receiving line. The Wallace, North Carolina native wins with incredible contact balance and power; his 0.48 broken tackles per attempt marked the best rate ever charted by Pro Football Focus. Despite the physical playing style, Williams has never missed a college game due to injury. He joins Melvin Gordon in Denver’s backfield in what figures to be a committee attack in 2021. Gordon hits free agency next offseason.
The Broncos have selected Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II with the 9th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. A top-10 recruit nationally in the 2018 class, Surtain started 12 of 15 games as a true freshman -- plus 25 more over the next 2 seasons. He compiled 24 passes defensed, 4 INTs and 4 forced fumbles for the Tide. Surtain might have to open as the 3rd corner in Denver, after the Broncos signed Ronald Darby and traded for Kyle Fuller this offseason.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports that the Panthers are trading QB Teddy Bridgewater to the Broncos for a 6th-round pick. That seems like a surprisingly small price, but Bridgewater is due nearly $23 million this year and would still carry $5 million in dead money on the 2022 cap if released after this season. His departure clears the way for Sam Darnold to take over the offense -- if Carolina doesn't go QB in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. In Denver, we'd bet on a competition between Bridgewater and Drew Lock for the starting gig. This trade might not necessarily take the Broncos out of the NFL Draft QB market. But it at least suggests they don't expect to land a 2021 starting candidate at the position. Bridgewater threw just 15 TD passes in his lone season with Carolina. If he earns the starting job in Denver, he'll find a talent-rich set of pass-catchers that includes Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant and K.J. Hamler.
After dealing for QB Sam Darnold, the Panthers have given QB Teddy Bridgewater permission to seek a trade, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. "Carolina is open to Bridgewater returning, but will give him a chance to have a say in his future," Rapoport adds. Bridgewater straddles the line between quality NFL starter and backup, so it's unclear how much interest there will be in him on the trade market. The takeaway here, though, is that the Panthers are planning on handing the keys to Darnold.
RB Mike Boone signed a 2-year, $2.6 million contract with the Broncos, according to insider Mike Klis. Boone averaged a strong 5.3 yards on 71 carries with the Vikings over the past 3 seasons. He joins a currently crowded Denver backfield alongside Melvin Gordon, Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman -- although there's a chance restricted free-agent Lindsay departs. Still, Boone is off the fantasy radar for now.
Restricted free-agent WR Tim Patrick has been assigned a 2nd-round tender by the Broncos. That makes it a virtual lock that he'll be back in Denver this season. Patrick is coming off a career-best 51-742-6 line, but his 2021 role is up in the air with Courtland Sutton returning alongside 2nd-year wideouts Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler.
The Broncos are exercising the $7 million guarantee option on the 2021 salary for OLB Von Miller, according to Mike Klis of 9News. That keeps Miller around for the coming season. It's noteworthy because Miller's $18 million salary for 2021 led to talk of Denver potentially cutting him. The 2 sides reportedly negotiated in an attempt to lower his cap number, but no revision was made. Miller lost all of last season with an ankle injury. The Broncos keeping him around at the big salary for what will be his age-32 season indicates they expect Miller to be back to familiar form.
The Broncos are signing CB Ronald Darby to a 3-year, $30 million deal with $19.5 million guaranteed, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Darby enjoyed a 2020 rebound in Washington after 3 injury-marred seasons in Philadelphia. Darby missed 20 of a possible 48 regular-season games over that span. Last year, he ranked 5th in the league in passes defensed, and Pro Football Focus graded him top-15 among CBs. Darby figures to land in draftable range in our 2021 IDP rankings as well.
Mike Klis of 9News reports that DUI charges against Broncos RB Melvin Gordon have been dismissed. Gordon has reportedly pleaded guilty to reckless driving for excessive speeding. There's still a chance the NFL disciplines him under the personal-conduct policy. But the dismissal of DUI charges can only help Gordon's shot of avoiding a suspension for the upcoming season. The veteran looks likely to lead the Denver backfield in 2021, though the rest of the group needs to settle out. The Broncos are tendering restricted free agent Phillip Lindsay. Royce Freeman also has 1 year left on his contract.
The Broncos have applied the franchise tag to S Justin Simmons. The 27-year-old has spent all 5 of his seasons in Denver, since arriving as a 3rd-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He has spent the past 4 as a full-time starter, topping 90 tackles each of the past 3 years and collecting 12 INTs over that span. Simmons has finished each of the past 2 seasons among the top 12 fantasy DBs. Expect him to land around there in our 2021 IDP rankings.
Broncos WR Courtland Sutton has resumed jogging as he works his way back from September's torn ACL. “I’m very grateful to be on-track and be feeling good with the spot I’m in," Sutton told the Denver Post. The timing of Sutton's injury means that he should be ready to go for the start of the 2021 campaign. The 25-year-old broke out for a 72-1,112-6 line in his 2019 sophomore season, finishing 19th among WRs in PPR points. QB play is still a concern in Denver, but Sutton should at least be drafted as an upside WR3 in early best balls.
Broncos OLB Bradley Chubb (ankle) is inactive for today's game against the Raiders. That should mean another start for Jeremiah Attaochu in his place.
Broncos OLB Bradley Chubb (ankle) is questionable for Sunday's game against the Raiders. He put in limited practices Thursday and Friday after missing Wednesday's workout and last week's game. We'll see about Chubb's status Sunday afternoon.
Broncos WR K.J. Hamler sustained a concussion in the 1st half of Sunday's game vs. the Chargers. We'll see if the rookie can get cleared for next weekend's finale vs. the Raiders.
Broncos RB Royce Freeman (hip) is active for today’s game vs. the Chargers. He’ll serve as the #2 RB with Phillip Lindsay out.
The Broncos have downgraded OLB Bradley Chubb (ankle) to out for today's game against the Chargers. That leaves Jeremiah Attaochu starting in his place -- a downgrade for an already exploitable Denver defense.
Broncos OLB Bradley Chubb (ankle) is questionable for Sunday's game against the Chargers. He put in only a limited Friday practice after missing workouts the previous 2 days and makes for a risky IDP option even if active. We'll check Chubb's status Sunday.
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