Broncos Rumors

Broncos Sign WR Steven Dunbar Jr.

The Broncos have signed wide receiver Steven Dunbar Jr., according to an announcement from the team. Dunbar takes the spot of Aaron Burbridge, who retired just before the start of training camp

[RELATED: Broncos, Drew Lock Agree To Deal]

Dunbar signed with the Niners last year after going undrafted out of the University of Houston. He spent the bulk of the year on the practice squad, but was promoted to the varsity squad for the final game of the 2018 season.

Dunbar may be facing an uphill climb on a WR depth chart that also includes Courtland Sutton, Emmanuel SandersDaeSean Hamilton, River Cracraft, Tim Patrick, and fifth-rounder Juwann Winfree. Still, Dunbar may have one advantage as an ex-49er who has familiarity with Rich Scangarello‘s system.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chris Harris' 2019 Role Uncertain

The Broncos employ three of the top slot cornerbacks in the league, with recent signings Kareem Jackson and Bryce Callahan joining longtime slot kingpin Chris Harris. Vic Fangio, however, confirmed the Broncos will also use Jackson as a safety, where he lined up in base packages all offseason. The Broncos have not settled on how they’re going to mix and match three corners who do their best work as inside cover men.

Despite his status as one of the NFL’s premier corners, Harris does not have a surefire role yet, Mark Kizsla of the Denver Post notes. The ninth-year player has previously worked as a boundary corner in Broncos base sets before shifting inside in sub-packages, which has keyed the former UDFA’s rise to prominence. Pro Football Focus graded the four-time Pro Bowler as its No. 3 corner last season. Harris has requested to play more outside corner in the past but doesn’t appear to prefer ceding too much time at his top job.

  • Emmanuel Sanders‘ chances of playing Week 1 seem to be improving. The 10th-year wide receiver will not begin training camp on the Broncos’ active/PUP list, with NFL.com’s James Palmer noting (via Twitter) the team did not place anyone on that list. John Elway said Wednesday that Sanders will begin practicing with the team Thursday, though the 32-year-old wideout cautioned he would not be full-go for a bit. Sanders is attempting to recover from a December Achilles tear.

Broncos, Drew Lock Agree To Deal

The Broncos will have their entire rookie class ready to go when they convene for practice Thursday. After some drama, the team and Drew Lock reached an agreement on the second-round pick’s four-year deal, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk tweets.

Set to conduct their first training camp practice Thursday morning, the Broncos now have their six-man draft class under contract. They signed No. 41 overall pick Dalton Risner on Tuesday and, after a report emerged about the No. 42 selection seeking a “quarterback premium,” will have Lock ready to go as well.

The Broncos did not give into any demands of an overslot deal, with Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic confirming the team gave Lock the same workout bonuses it did Risner (all Twitter links) and the $3.1MM signing bonus that comes with the No. 42 slot.

Lock poses as John Elway‘s third try to find Peyton Manning‘s long-term successor through the draft. Denver’s GM has gone through Brock Osweiler (2012 second round) and Paxton Lynch (2016 first round) and was long linked to being intrigued by the four-year Missouri starter. The fourth quarterback off the board this year, Lock will attempt to develop behind Joe Flacco.

Obviously we’ve been looking for one since Peyton retired,” Elway said Wednesday of the Broncos’ quarterback situation (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, on Twitter). “That’s always a difficult position to fill, but I finally feel pretty good about that position with where we are.”

A Kansas City, Mo, native, Lock concluded his Mizzou career with 99 touchdown passes — including 44 as a junior — and 12,193 yards. Flacco’s early work dissuaded the Broncos from using a first-round pick on a quarterback, but when Lock was still on the board in Round 2, the team decided to pull the trigger. This would seemingly take the Broncos out of the running for a 2020 QB investment, and given the rate at which highly drafted passers have begun their tenures as NFL starters, Lock starting at some point this season appears likely.

Only nine 2019 rookies remain unsigned. Here is the Broncos’ full rookie class:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos’ Aaron Burbridge Retires

Broncos wide receiver Aaron Burbridge is retiring, a source tells Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Burbridge, once a standout player at Michigan State, was pushing to make the roster as a special teams player.

Burbidge notified the Broncos on Wednesday morning he planned to retire, and Mike Klis of 9News notes (via Twitter) the team waived him.

Unfortunately, injuries have marred the 25-year-old’s career. After entering the league as a sixth-round pick of the Niners, he was kept off the field for much of the last two years. In his rookie year, Burbridge managed seven catches for 88 yards.

Without the wide receiver, the Broncos have a vacant spot to fill on their 90-man roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Phillip Lindsay

  • Kyle Fredrickson of the Denver Post says that Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay believes he is ready to fully participate in training camp, which opens next week, after recovering from a wrist injury he suffered late last season. That is in keeping with what we heard in June, but Lindsay concedes that it’s not his decision. It’s still possible that he will remain a limited participant just as he was throughout offseason workouts, at least for awhile. Denver obviously wants to get him on the field as soon as possible, especially since he will be adjusting to a new offense, but the club also does not want to needlessly rush one of its most promising youngsters.
  • The Broncos signed No. 41 overall pick Dalton Risner earlier today, which leaves QB Drew Lock as the club’s only unsigned 2019 draft pick. Lock, the No. 42 overall pick, is looking for an overslot contract, but Denver does not plan to give him one.

Broncos Notes: Sanders, Butt, Lock, CBs

After Chris Harris and Emmanuel Sanders suffered season-ending injuries in a four-day span last December, the Broncos lost their final four games and reassembled their coaching staff. The team did not make any major additions at wide receiver this offseason, waiting until the sixth round to address the spot. Sanders has shown steady progress during offseason Achilles rehab, but the 32-year-old wideout conceded Tuesday (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, on Twitter) he will not be full-go to start Denver’s training camp. With the veteran not yet certain to be ready to play by Week 1, a stay on the active/PUP list to start camp seems likely. The Broncos, whom Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com ranked 31st on his list of skill-position groups, are counting on Sanders to reprise his role as a key starter.

With the Broncos two days away from training camp, here is the latest out of Denver:

  • While Sanders may not avoid the active/PUP list, it appears Jake Butt will. The third-year tight end is attempting to recover from the third torn ACL of his playing career, but the Michigan product said (via the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran, on Twitter) he will not land on the PUP list to start camp. However, the Broncos will still ease him back to practice work. The Broncos brought back Jeff Heuerman and drafted Noah Fant, but Butt could still be a nice bonus for a team with an uncertain pass-catcher situation.
  • Denver used third-round picks in 2017 and ’18 on cornerbacks, but neither Brendan Langley nor Isaac Yiadom have a locked-in role going into camp. Langley has been moved to wide receiver, and Yiadom might not even be the favorite for the team’s No. 4 cornerback gig. The Broncos’ top three of Harris, Bryce Callahan and Kareem Jackson (in nickel sets) is set, and O’Halloran notes Alliance of American Football refugee De’Vante Bausby may be the player to beat for the Broncos’ CB4 role. Bausby played for Vic Fangio briefly in 2016 and suited up for six Eagles games last season.
  • Dalton Risner agreed to terms on his second-round rookie deal. Drew Lock has not. But the Broncos are not planning to cave to Lock’s reported aim at securing an overslot deal. They will not pay Lock more than what Risner received, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. Risner was taken 41st overall, and while Lock was projected to be a first-round pick for most of the draft process, the four-year Missouri starter went 42nd.

Broncos Sign G Dalton Risner

The Broncos’ situation with Drew Lock had created a holdup with the player selected one spot ahead of him, but that issue has been resolved. No. 41 overall pick Dalton Risner agreed to terms on his four-year rookie deal, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets.

Risner is expected to sign the contract later on Tuesday. This leaves Lock as Denver’s only unsigned rookie. The two went off the board back-to-back in the second round, and Lock is reportedly seeking a “quarterback premium” contract. The first two years of Risner’s deal are fully guaranteed, per Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter).

But the player from Denver’s draft class expected to contribute immediately will be available when the team opens training camp Thursday. Risner is slated to start at left guard for the Broncos, who will stash Lock behind Joe Flacco for the time being.

A well-regarded prospect out of Kansas State, Risner played multiple positions for the Wildcats. He served as the Big 12 program’s starting right tackle from 2016-18, earning first-team All-American acclaim as a senior, and began his career as a 13-game starter at center for the 2015 K-State iteration. Pro Football Focus tabbed Risner as a first-team All-American in his final two seasons. The Colorado native will attempt to help the Broncos up front, after they lost both Matt Paradis and Billy Turner in free agency.

Here is the Broncos’ 2019 draft class:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Hit Snag In Drew Lock Negotiations

The Broncos’ negotiations with second-round picks Drew Lock and Dalton Risner have hit a snag, as Mike Klis of KUSA writes. Lock, the No. 42 pick, is seeking a “quarterback premium,” meaning that he wants more money than his draft slot dictates. Meanwhile, Risner, the No. 41 overall choice, doesn’t want to take less money than the player behind him. 

Heading into the draft, many believed that Lock would be selected in the first round. His unexpected slide landed him in the eager arms of John Elway, who traded back into Round Two to grab him. From a career perspective, Lock is in a solid situation as the heir apparent to Joe Flacco‘s starting job. However, his camp is looking to recoup some of the money that was lost by his drop.

What this effectively means is that Lock and Risner (the team’s expected starting left guard) might not be in attendance for the first meeting for rookies on Wednesday or practice on Thursday. It’s unlikely that either situation will result in a prolonged stalemate, but stranger things have happened in the NFL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Notes: Sanders, Gooden, Cravens

  • It’s roster projection season, and Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post takes a look at the Broncos‘ WR situation. Emmanuel Sanders‘ inability to participate in the Broncos’ offseason program allowed the club to thoroughly its evaluate young pass catchers, who impressed the coaching staff with their intelligence and instincts. O’Halloran notes that Sanders could open training camp on the PUP list, and his health may force Denver to carry six receivers, good news for rookie sixth-rounder Juwann Winfree and UDFA Trinity Benson. O’Halloran believes both players will make the team.
  • In a separate piece, O’Halloran explores UDFA Ahmad Gooden‘s chances of making the Broncos. O’Halloran says Gooden drew interest from multiple teams after the draft but saw Denver as the best fit given its newfound openings at OLB. Gooden was a stand-up DE in college, but he was asked to drop into both man and zone coverage, which is a skill that’s expected of the Broncos’ outside ‘backers. If he can flash some pass rush ability, he will have a good shot.
  • Mike Klis of 9News.com examines the Broncos‘ revamped secondary, which should be a strength for the team this season. However, he notes that safety Su’a Cravens may be a long shot to make the 53-man roster. While Denver’s previous regime saw Cravens as a dime linebacker, new HC Vic Fangio says Cravens will need to make the club as a pure safety, which seems like a dubious proposition given Cravens’ struggles in coverage in 2018, his first season with the Broncos.

Broncos Had Bush's Name On Draft Card

As we wind down the final week of the 2019 offseason, let’s look at a few of the league’s linebacker situations. The Broncos are one of the two teams opening training camp next week, joining the Falcons, and they’ve had a quietly interesting year at this spot.

  • Denver passed on adding an inside linebacker to replace five-year starter Brandon Marshall, but the report of the team being ready to make a major investment at this spot was accurate. Not only did the Broncos plan to select Devin Bush at No. 10 overall, they wrote the Michigan linebacker’s name on a first-round card, Mike Klis of 9News notes. Broncos VP of player personnel Matt Russell told draft rep Derrick Thomas to write Bush’s name on their card but instructed him not to turn it in, Klis adds. They ended up trading the pick, which became Bush, to the Steelers for additional draft capital.
  • The Broncos plan to use Todd Davis and 2018 fourth-rounder Josey Jewell as their starting inside ‘backers, and while that may leave the team vulnerable in coverage, the coaching staff has hatched an idea to help combat that. Denver drafted Oregon edge rusher Justin Hollins in the fifth round, and instead of hoping he becomes strictly an off-the-bench pass rusher, the Broncos plan to deploy the four-year Duck as a base-set outside ‘backer and an inside player in nickel packages, Klis writes. Hollins ran a 4.50-second 40-yard dash at the Combine, leading the team to see if he can be a solution to its problems covering tight ends in recent years.