The major move of the Denver Broncos offseason went down on March 8, as the team acquired franchise quarterback Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks for a package that included a combination of picks and players. They continue to add talent to the roster, giving the indication that they are all in.
The Denver Broncos had a big day on Tuesday. First, they brought back Josey Jewell on a two-year deal worth $11 million. Jewell is still only 27 years old and — despite only appearing in two games in 2021 — he is in line to play a large amount of snaps this coming season. Jewell was drafted in the fourth round by the Broncos in 2018, after winning Defensive Player of the Year at Iowa. He led the team in tackles all three seasons as a starter in college, mixing in interceptions and sacks with his incredible tackle totals.
2021 third-round pick, Baron Browning, is the only other linebacker currently on the roster worthy of starter reps. Bringing Jewell back is a big deal for stability purposes at the position, but the team will need to continue being active in order to sure up the group. Browning possesses star potential, but one of the most glaring needs last season was the lack of true impact players in the front seven. It is crucial that general manager George Paton doesn’t become complacent with the linebacker corps.
Guys like Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright — both former teammates of new quarterback Russell Wilson — are still available and could be looking to take a smaller deal in order to chase a ring in Denver. They traded a lot of picks in the Wilson trade, but still have three top-100 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. There looks to be a number of quality linebackers available in this class. One way or another, the team MUST add more top-end talent to the position.
Broncos Bring Back Linebacker Josey Jewell, Add Pass Rusher Randy Gregory
The other move on Tuesday certainly fits the bill as a “wow” signing. The fact Randy Gregory opted to go to the Broncos to compete for a ring is not surprising, but the way he got there is quite interesting. It was reported that Gregory and his former team — the Dallas Cowboys — struck a deal to ensure the pass rushers’ return to the Lone Star State. Even going as far as having their social media announce the deal as official. Not even 15 minutes later, the Cowboys Twitter account was getting swamped with “Cold Takes Exposed” tweets. Due to some last minute shuffling that the Cowboys tried to add to the contract, Gregory decided to flip his commitment and sign with Denver.
The Broncos entered the offseason with a big need at edge rusher. Von Miller rumors heated up, but were shot down soon thereafter. Chandler Jones’ interest was very real too, but the team ultimately chose to give the younger player a lucrative long-term deal. Gregory is still 29 — three years younger than the 32 year old Chandler Jones. That may not sound like a massive difference on the surface, but Gregory lines up significantly better with the teams’ timeline than Jones does.
It does not come without its’ risks, however. Gregory has never played more than 14 games in a season, while Jones has appeared in more than 14 in six of the last seven. A combination of injuries and drug-related suspensions are to blame for all the missed time in Gregory’s career. His first failed test came all the way back at the 2015 NFL Draft Scouting Combine, but he has struggled with substance abuse throughout his entire life. Thankfully, the NFL did not give up on him and allowed him to work through his issues.
Gregory seems to have turned over a new leaf, as he’s stayed out of trouble for awhile now. The Broncos obviously feel comfortable enough with him to spend $70 million over the course of five years. He brings an immediate infusion of talent at the edge rusher position, totaling six sacks and three forced fumbles in 2021 for the Cowboys. The Broncos have a chance to win as soon as this season, but if they manage things correctly, they’re going to have that chance for at least half a decade. This is only the beginning.