Broncos’ 2019 first-round pick signs rookie deal

Broncos’ 2019 first-round pick signs rookie deal

Denver’s 2019 first-round pick Noah Fant is officially a Bronco after he signed his four-year rookie contract.

The deal, which carries a fifth-year option, is worth $12 million, including a $7.17m sign bonus.

The former Iowa star is the third Broncos rookie to sign with the team following the NFL Draft last month.

Second-round picks Dalton Risner and Drew Lock, and third-rounder Dre’Mont Jones are still unsigned.

Broncos need to keep Chris Harris Jr for the short-term

Broncos need to keep Chris Harris Jr for the short-term

Chris Harris Jr has so far stayed away from the Broncos’ OTAs, but his contract situation is one of the biggest talking points.

It would have been inconceivable that the star cornerback could play for another team in the NFL, but it becomes more of a possibility as each day passes.

We know his side wants $15 million a year, which would make Harris one of the highest-paid corners in the league, but we also know that general manager John Elway is notoriously tight when it comes to paying players market value.

That talks are underway, even if they are in their infancy, is at least a positive step in the right direction.

The Broncos didn’t take a cornerback in the 2019 NFL Draft last month after landing Bryce Callahan and Kareem Jackson in free agency, although the latter has been playing more safety in Vic Fangio’s defense.

If Harris walks, the Broncos will have a massive hole in their secondary following the departures of Bradley Roby (Houston) and Tramaine Brock (Arizona).

Yes, Callahan is also an excellent slot corner, but it means the Broncos will have to hope Isaac Yiadom can step up in his second year or one of the undrafted rookies emerges as a potential starter or third corner, or the plan to move Jackson around will be stifled.

NFL Network’s James Palmer reported Friday that the Broncos could be looking at a short-term extension for Harris, which could see his salary rise close to his demands.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise, given what we know about contracts offered to corners in their 30s.

The Broncos signed Jackson, aged 31, to a $33 million deal over three years this offseason, but such deals are rare.

Josh Norman, whose $75m five-year contract with Washington gives him an average of $15m a year, got his deal in 2016.

Miami signed Xavien Howard to a five-year extension earlier this month worth $75m with a $15.05m a year average, with $27.18 million fully guaranteed at signing and $46 million in total guarantees, according to Pro Football Talk, but Howard is 25.

The issue for Harris, who turns 30 in June, is that teams don’t often offer big contracts to aging corners, and not many organizations will add a premium for performing above a previous contract’s value.

A two- or three-year extension in 2019, would keep Harris under contract through 2021 or 2022. If the incentives can top up the base salary, which seems the likeliest outcome, it could work for both parties.

Harris has talked of retiring a Bronco, but that will depend on whether he takes a short-term deal, and how he performs in that period. Even then, it’s not a given.

Yiadom might not be the future of the Broncos’ secondary, but the front office will look to get younger at the position in 2020 or 2021.

Widely regarded as one of the smartest players on and off the field, the Broncos cannot afford to lose another leader, especially one that can mentor the youngsters who one day could take his place.

That concept shouldn’t be too alien to Harris, who was mentored by Champ Bailey before the Broncos released the Hall of Famer in 2014 at the age of 35 after 10 seasons in Denver.

Keeping Harris on the roster for at least two more seasons is imperative for the Broncos to bounce back from back-to-back losing seasons.

Reports: Broncos OL Nico Falah tore Achilles

Broncos place OL Nico Falah on IR

Injuries suck at the best of the time, but more so when they come on the first day of OTAs.

That’s the fate of offensive lineman Nico Falah, who was carted off the field at UCHealth Training Center during a conditioning drill near the end of day one practice.

“We were doing a conditioning drill over there, and he went down. I’m not sure,” Fangio told reporters after practice.

Early reports, including from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport believe that the big guy has torn his Achilles, which would rule him out of the 2019 season.

The Broncos are no strangers to Achilles injuries in recent times, with Ronald Leary and Emmanuel Sanders victims to them in 2018.

Leary took part in the first part of practice Monday, while Sanders is running and cutting as he continues his return.

Falah, signed off the New York Jets practice squad in October 2018, was on the 53-man roster after Leary’s injury but never played for the Broncos.

The Broncos placed Falah on injured reserve Tuesday, opening up a space on the 90-man roster.

Broncos LB Justin Hollins signs rookie contract

Broncos LB Justin Hollins signs rookie contract

Denver Broncos’ fifth-round pick Justin Hollins signed his rookie contract on the second day of OTAs.

The Oregon linebacker becomes the second member of the team’s Class of 2019 to sign after Colorado receiver Juwann Winfree signed Monday.

Hollins’ four-year deal is worth just over $2.9 million and includes $300,000 in guaranteed money.

Broncos head coach Vic Fangio is working out where to play the rangy linebacker, who can play inside and outside.

Hollins has impressed the coaches since he arrived in the Mile High City and his versatility could be a weapon in Fangio’s defense.

The 6-5, 250-pound linebacker ran a 4.5-second 40-yard time, the same pace as Broncos first-round pick Noah Fant, a tight end that is 6-5, 240 pounds.

As well as rushing the passer, Hollins could be used in coverage to take on tight ends and running backs — an area that has been a problem for the Broncos in recent seasons.

In his final season at Oregon, Hollins recorded five sacks, five forced fumbles, and an interception.

Flacco: Not my job to mentor Drew Lock

Flacco: Not my job to mentor Drew Lock

If Denver Broncos quarterback of the future Drew Lock wants to win the starting job in the Mile High City, he has to do it without the help of incumbent Joe Flacco.

That was the clear message from the veteran signal caller after the first day of Broncos OTAs at UCHealth Training Center, where Flacco declared that his job was to win football games rather than worry about Lock’s development.

Like Lock, Flacco is getting used to a new environment, new teammates, new city, and all the upheaval that goes with changing teams, but many in Broncos Country are ready to install Lock as the guy before Flacco has even hit the field.

Joe Flacco’s focus is on winning games, not mentoring Drew Lock

While the noise outside the building is when Lock will receive the keys to the bus, Flacco made it clear that Lock’s development will come down to the 22-year-old and offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello.

“I’m not a selfish person I don’t think. There are times when you have to be selfish,” Flacco said about opening up to the young guys.

“Rich does such a good job in those meeting rooms. Drew is going to learn from listening to him talk, and then us getting the reps on the field and seeing how we all do it as a collective group and as a quarterback.

“Listen, I hope he does learn from me because that means that we’re out there and we’re slinging it around and we’re having a lot of fun.

“He’s going to learn by watching us do it and watching us do it well. That’s how he’s going to learn the timing and all of those things is to be able to see it on film and hear Rich talk about it with me and digest as much of that as possible.

“Like I said, I hope he does learn from me because that means we’re out there lighting it up.”

The last time the Broncos had a quarterback that could light it up was 2014 when Peyton Manning was still in his prime.

Flacco is not known for lighting up defenses, but if he can play the best football of his life in the Mile High City to get back to the playoffs, we’ll settle for Lock taking a back seat in 2019.

“You’ve got to be careful with how you answer that,” Flacco said when asked about mentoring Lock after the first day of OTAs.

“I think that is, like I said, it’s kind of Rich’s job. And it’s to be in that quarterback room and watch. And that’s how you can develop.

“Listen, I’ve got so many things to worry about. I’m trying to go out there and play good football. I’m trying to go out there and play the best football of my life.

“As far as a time constraint, and all that stuff, I’m not worried about developing guys or any of that. That is what it is. And like I said, I hope he does develop. But I don’t look at that as my job. My job is to win football games for this football team.”

Before the 2019 NFL Draft, Flacco bristled when asked about the possibility of the Broncos drafting a quarterback with the 10th overall pick.

That wasn’t unexpected, given the way he was ousted last year in Baltimore after the Ravens traded up in the 2018 NFL Draft to take Lamar Jackson with the 32nd overall pick.

The Broncos got lucky to grab Lock at #42 overall rather than #10 last month, but Flacco’s focus is the same as it was when he joined the Broncos in March and was anointed the starting QB.

If Lock wants to take the wheel, he’s going to have to earn it, albeit without the pressure to do it immediately and much guidance from Flacco.

Broncos WR Juwann Winfree signs rookie contract

Broncos WR Juwann Winfree signs rookie contract

As the Denver Broncos’ Class of 2019 gets together with the veterans for the first day of organized team activities, sixth-round pick Juwann Winfree signed his rookie contract.

The wide receiver, who finished his college career at Colorado after transferring from Maryland, is the first of the Broncos’ 2019 draft picks to sign officially.

The Broncos traded two picks to move up in to take Winfree with the 187th overall pick, as acknowledged by the customized shirt he wore to his signing.

Flacco to take all first-team reps at Broncos OTAs

For all the excitement about Denver’s second-round pick, quarterback Drew Lock won’t be taking reps away from Joe Flacco when the Broncos begin OTAs today.

Head coach Vic Fangio confirmed after rookie minicamp that Flacco would take the first-team reps with Lock and fellow rookie Brett Rypien randomly sharing second- and third-team reps with Kevin Hogan.

The announcement should come as no surprise given the narrative since general manager John Elway traded up to take Lock with the 42nd overall pick at the 2019 NFL Draft last month.

Lock and his hose might be the future in the Mile High City, but the Broncos didn’t trade a fourth-round pick to Baltimore for no reason and Elway is content to roll with former Super Bowl MVP Flacco until Lock is good to go at the NFL level.

It’s a luxury few teams get to have. How long it lasts remains to be seen, especially if Flacco can stay healthy and performs well.

For now, Lock will compete with veteran Hogan for the backup job as he learns his craft without the pressure of a quarterback competition we saw after the Broncos traded up in the first round to take Paxton Lynch in 2016.

In other news ahead of OTAs, star cornerback Chris Harris Jr. will be absent as he waits on a new contract, while new signing Kareem Jackson will continue to see work at safety.

Second-round pick Dalton Risner will continue to see time at left guard but is also expected to play some tackle and center as the Broncos work out his best position.

Second-year corner Isaac Yiadom will be limited, receiver Emmanuel Sanders will not go, while Phillip Lindsay, Jake Butt, Bryce Callahan, and Ronald Leary will see some time in OTAs as they come back from injury.

After the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets both ended their seasons with game seven defeats in the playoffs this past week, we have just 11 weeks until the Broncos take the field at the Pro Football Hall of Fame game in Canton to kick off five preseason games.

There’s a lot of work to be done for new head coach Fangio as he assembles his first 53-man roster, but the offseason program is about to hit a new level.

It’s not quite time for Ryan Koenigsberg’s perennial call to resonate across Broncos Country, but it’s getting closer.

The Broncos are almost back, again.