Editor’s note: The seventh in a series previewing each Broncos position group entering the start of training camp on Tuesday.
When the Broncos lost to Las Vegas in last season’s finale, Michael Ozemudia and Parnell Motley played all 67 defensive snaps and Will Parks saw 53 plays in the works.
Translation: Something needed to be done to address a corner situation plagued by injuries, suspensions and ineffectiveness and new general manager George Patton went to work.
The legends are Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller and first-round pick Pat Suren II.
Three cornerbacks from a Raiders game? Ozmudia will start camp at number 4 or 5 on the depth chart, the Motley Fool faces an uphill climb to make the roster and Parks is in Kansas City.
“The (front office) went out and running to prepare our entire secondary and give us a lot of depth,” said defensive coordinator Ed Donatelle. “We are delighted to have some experienced cornerbacks (Fuller/Darby) and then a top 10 pick (Sertain).”
The new cornerback joins the formidable safety duo of Justin Simmons and Karim Jackson. Simmons is the game’s highest-paid security in terms of average salary ($15.25 million) and Jackson was re-signed soon after his contract option was denied.
who is behind
s Justin Simmons (3rd round 2016), S kareem jackson (Free Agent ’19), CB Bryce Callahan (Free Agent ’19), CB asang bassi (Draft Free Agent ’20), CB Michael Ozemudia (3rd round ’20), CB Duke Dawson (business ’19), sleep Trey Marshall (Adraft Free Agent ’17), s pj locke (Free Agent ’19), CB Nate Hairston (Free Agent ’20) and CB parnell motley (Free Agent ’20).
Simmons has played every defensive snap over the past three years and has made total 97, 93 and 96 tackles and a combined 12 interceptions. The franchise tagged in for a second consecutive season, signing a four-year, $61 million contract in March.
Jackson was released on a three-year, $33 million deal with one season remaining, but returned to a one-year, $5 million contract after testing the free-agent market.
Callahan was playing well until a foot injury put him off in early December. Cornerback additions will likely move him into the Nickel role full-time.
Ozemudia missed a team-high 15 tackles and, well, if he’s been playing a lot this year, it’s because the status group has been decimated by injuries again.
Locke and Marshall may fight for a roster spot as the ace of reserve security/special teams.
CB Ronald Darby (Free Agent), CB Kyle Fuller (Free Agent), CB Pat Suren II (1st round), S Jaden Stern (fifth round), S jamar johnson (5th round), CB Carrie Vincent (seventh round) and CB Mac McCain (draft free agent).
Darby, 27, signed a three-year, $30 million deal after playing all 16 games for the first time in his career. He has eight interceptions in 73 games, but five seasons of break-ups with at least 10 passes.
Fuller signed a one-year deal with the Broncos hours after being cut by Chicago. He played with the Bears for coach Vic Fangio and defensive coordinator Ed Donatelle. Fuller has 19 interceptions in 96 games.
Wait, there’s more. Sureten was available at No. 9 in the first round when Carolina picked up cornerback Jesse Horn in eighth place. Sutain intercepted four passes in 41 games for Alabama.
Stern and Johnson will provide depth to security and special teams.
who is gone
CB D’Vente Bousby (Las Vegas), S Alija Holder Hold (Detroit), S will parks (Kansas City), CB kevin tolliver (Free Agent), CB AJ Boye (Carolina) and CB Chris Cooper (free agent).
The purpose of the cornerback overhaul is two-fold: to build depth so that it doesn’t repeat last year’s when the Broncos were forced to bring back the parks and immediately make it nickels and generate more turnover.
During their five-year playoff drought, the Broncos are ranked 18th with 105 takeaways (105) and 21st with 61 interceptions. In the two years under coach Vic Fangio, he is ranked 27th with 33 takeaways and 25th with 10 interceptions.
The depth of the cornerbacks would allow Fangio to play more money (six defensive backs) and have four true cornerbacks on the field with Simmons and Jackson.
number of notes
Intercepts from the last two years by a Broncos cornerback – one by Chris Harris in ’19 and one by Asang Bassi and two by Bryce Callahan in ’20
Friday: ends tight.