Editor’s note: The fifth in a series previewing each Broncos position group entering the start of training camp next Tuesday.
The Broncos’ merry-go-round at quarterback, four consecutive Week 1 starts, has only been matched by their instability at center.
In 2018, Matt Paradis broke his ankle and left for Carolina. In ’19, Conor McGovern had a solid season and left for big money with the New York Jets. And last year, third-round rookie Lloyd Cushberry played all 1,075 offensive snaps.
But the Broncos have interestingly declared the center an open competition when training camp begins next week, with the team adding third-round pick Quinn Meinerz to challenge Kushnberry.
Interesting because Cushberry grew with last year – the Denver Post’s game charting booked him for 15 pass-rush “disruptions” (four sacks) in games 1-8, but only four (one sack) in games 9-16 .
Kushberry hoped the competition would be added, “Based on how I played last year. … we’re going to push each other. Whoever takes this step, he will get a job.”
The main preliminary competition is along the center offensive line, which returns left tackler Garrett Bowles, left guard Dalton Risner and right guard Graham Glasgow. Newcomer Bobby Massey is the favorite to start with the right tackle.
who is behind
lieutenant Garrett Bowles (First Round 2017), LG dalton risner (2nd Round ’19), RG Graham Glasgow (Free Agent ’20), c Lloyd Cushberry (3rd round ’20), LT Calvin Anderson (Free Agent ’19), OT quinn bailey (incomplete free agent ’19), c Patrick Morris (exempt ’19), g neten muti (sixth round ’20) and g/c Austin Schlotman (Adraft Free Agent ’18).
His fifth-year contract option declined, with Boles starting last year with doubts about his future, but by the end of November he had signed a four-year, $68 million contract extension. He dropped only half the sack in 15 matches.
At guard, Risner is eligible for a contract extension next March, but should be more consistent – he was not booked with a permitted sack last year, but left 13 1/2 “interruptions”. Glasgow’s initial year with the Broncos was slowed by injury and COVID-19, but he was solid when he recovered.
Among the backups, Anderson will compete for the swing back-up tackle spot against veteran Cam Fleming and Muti is likely the No. 3 guard.
rt Bobby Massey (free agent), c Quinn Meinerz (3rd round), RT Cam Fleming (Free Agent), OT cody conway (Draft Free Agent), OT Drew Himmelman (executed free agent) and G nolan lauffenberg (draft free agent).
The Broncos were committed to giving Jawuan James another chance to play the perfect tackle, but he tore his Achilles in a post-draft workout and was pardoned. Enter Macy, who turns 32 on August 1, listed at 6-foot-6/325 pounds and making 110 regular-season starts. He will enter the camp as the favorite to win the job.
Fleming was signed to add the right tackle contest and would beat Anderson for the swing backup spot.
who is gone
rt javuan gems (Baltimore), RT damar dotson (Free Agent), RT Eliza Wilkinson (Chicago), c john halapio (Free Agent) and OT Darin Paulo (Detroit).
The Broncos have dedicated significant money (Boules/Glasgow) and draft capital (four selections in rounds 1-3) to finding a stable line and they just might be there. They should enter camp feeling good about all but four of the five places except the center.
It’s important to get some consistency in the steady progression of the bowls and the right tackle. If that happens, the Broncos should view the line as an offensive force.
number of notes
Average contract value of Garrett Bowles, who ranks sixth in the NFL in left tackles. The total deal is for four years and $68 million.