It started with free agency. The Broncos didn’t address the edge rusher. In the draft, the Broncos selected wide receiver, inside linebacker, and cornerback.
For a squad used to star power on the edge, the 2023 offseason was different. Thanks to 2011 No. 2 overall pick Von Miller and 2018 No. 5 pick Bradley Chubb, at least one projected edge rusher had been a top-5 pick in each of the last 12 seasons.
The Broncos seldom worried about edge rushers with 2009 All-Pro Elvis Dumervil through the 2012 season, eventual Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware from 2014-16, and other guys like 2015 first-round selection Shane Ray and eventual Pro Bowler Shaq Barrett.
It differed this offseason.
Thus, the Broncos added former Chiefs star Frank Clark in late free agency.
According to Pro Football Focus, Clark got a pressure every 10.55 pass-rush snaps last year. That falls between his 2021 rate (one pressure every 9.91 pass-rush snaps) and his 2020 rate (one every 11.82). No deterioration is shown.
Thus, a team that wanted better edge security may benefit from Clark.
Injury worries top the depth chart.
The revelation that Baron Browning undergone meniscus surgery, originally reported by KUSA-Ch. 9’s Mike Klis, reminded fans that while the third-year player has great skill, his health issues are real.
In the offseason of 2021, Browning experienced a lower-leg ailment. Last year, hip and back injuries sidelined him. Now comes meniscus surgery. The Broncos should be cautious even though he missed just three games in each of the previous two seasons.
Randy Gregory, who missed 11 of 17 games last year due to a knee ailment, has missed 16 of 34 regular-season games over the previous two seasons. Due to offseason rotator-cuff surgery, Gregory started last year’s training camp on the PUP list. Currently, he’s healthy. But the Broncos realized they needed insurance in case injuries struck again.
Young depth untested
Jonathon Cooper, a third-year veteran, is a competent rotational player with potential. As a pass rusher, he flashed in preseason and regular season. He has good intuition. However, he develops.
However, Cooper, a 2021 seventh-round pick, may be ahead of Nik Bonitto, last year’s second-round pick. Cooper edged Bonitto in 2022. A potential primary special-teamer, Aaron Patrick, tore his ACL last year in Los Angeles.
Christopher Allen (2022) and Thomas Incoom (2023) are also being evaluated by the Broncos. The Broncos will gain stability and patience by adding Clark.
A Broncos-friendly deal
As ESPN’s Adam Schefter initially reported, Clark’s contract includes $5.5 million guaranteed and a maximum value of $7.5 million if incentives are satisfied. Given Clark’s output, this is reasonable. A player entering his ninth season, his 30th, should have a one-year contract.
Two releases reduced the Broncos’ 2023 cap by almost $7.5 million. Cherokee Trail H.S. Jacob Martin was cut first. $3,823,529 was saved. They saved $3.75 million by cutting Brandon McManus.
Clark’s contract is covered by the savings of slightly over $7.57 million, even if he satisfies all incentives.