Upon completing the franchise-resetting trade of outside linebacker Von Miller on Monday, Broncos general manager George Patton met with the remaining five captains and reiterated his belief that this 4-4 season could turn into nothing but a message. can send.
“Vaughan was here; it was his team,” Patton said as he told the players. “Now this is your team. You lead these young players.”
Miller served as the Broncos’ most high-profile player since quarterback Peyton Manning retired after the 2015 season, and he took on the role. But when Patton flipped him to the Los Angeles Rams for draft picks, his absence created a void.
Who replaces No. 58 as the No. 1 voice of the team? Who is the next face of the Broncos franchise?
“We have some really good leaders, whether it’s (security) Justin Simmons, (quarterback) Teddy (Bridgewater) and (receiver) Cortland Sutton,” Patton said.
The remaining five are captain Simmons, Sutton, Bridgewater, safety Karim Jackson and kicker Brandon McManus.
“We have a great group of people,” said Jackson, the Broncos’ most experienced player. “We still have many leaders in this locker room. I think we have the right people, the right mindset and the right mindset to move forward. I am looking forward to all the possibilities for us.”
Factors to consider when choosing a new face:
*Contract status. A player under a long-term deal or one hoping to sign has the security to assert himself.
* On-field performance. Low achievers are not the faces of the franchise. Period.
*Post. Quarterbacks are the obvious candidate, but the Broncos can turn to a safety or receiver.
*Miracle. A player must have the chops to change the narrative in times of crisis or promote it in times of prosperity.
* and desire. Miller had an off-the-charts desired level of strength to serve as the team’s spokesperson.
As the Broncos begin the Von Era after Sunday in Dallas, here are four candidates who will be the new face of the franchise:
Post: the protection
Contract status: In the first season of four years, he signed a contract worth $61 million in March.
Field Games: Simmons has 413 tackles and 19 interceptions in 82 career games (72 starts) and hasn’t missed a defensive picture from 2018-20. A second team All-Pro in 2019 and a Pro Bowl selection in ’20, Simmons has 40 tackles and three interceptions this year.
Comment: The most obvious choice and a role Simmons would embrace, if he hadn’t already started. Popular among Broncos fans for his on-field performances and off-field community involvement, Simmons is at least the new “face” of defense. “I would say I’m just going to be me,” he said, asking whether Miller’s departure would enhance his leadership role. “I’m not going to try and try and fill the void of what Vaughn did. I continue to do what I do and lead how it’s most comfortable for me.”
Contract status: In the final season of his four-year rookie deal.
Field Games: Sutton made 157 catches for 2,461 yards and 12 touchdowns in 41 career games. He made the Pro Bowl in 2019 (72-1,112-6), but was limited to one game last year due to a torn ACL. He has taken 40 catches for 579 yards in eight matches this year.
Comment: Sutton is the Broncos’ top candidate for the 2022 franchise tag if Patton has seen enough in Sutton’s post-ACL season to tag him, but not enough to land him a 4-5 year contract. If Sutton plays on tag next year, he can still lead and be a face. “Ever since I was drafted here, my mindset was to be the best supporter I can be,” he said. “I want to be in a position to see my teammates and coaches as someone who can be a leader and a person they can lean on.”
Post: outside linebacker
Contract status: The Broncos have picked up his 2022 option with a guaranteed $12.716 million, which means he could become a free agent in March 2023.
Field Games: In the Broncos’ first round (fifth overall) in 2018, Chub’s career so far has been plagued with injuries. After a 12-sack debut, he has 8 1/2 sacks since the start of ’19 and has played 19 out of a possible 40 due to ACL (’19) and ankle (last/this year) injuries . The Broncos could get Chubb back on November 28 against the Los Angeles Chargers, giving him seven games to show Paton that he deserves a long-term contract this off-season rather than playing ’22 on option.
Comment: The first priority of the chub should be to be healthy and live, to produce and only then can he pursue the status of “face”. The final seven games will be crucial for him to set the stage for a new contract and show that he can lead through actions and words.
Pat Suren II
Contract status: in the first year of his $20.96 million rookie contract, which runs through 2025. By May 2025, the Broncos must decide whether to exercise its fully-guaranteed 2026 option.
Field Games: 9, the Broncos’ first-round pick this year, Surtane started seven of the first eight games and made 26 tackles, intercepted one pass and broke six others.
Comment: Already the Broncos’ best cornerback, Sartain could be a “face” if the main requirement is to lead his actions. He’ll never be the one who says his opponent is in for a long day/rear-end kicking (a chapter in Miller’s verbal playbook). But, wow, he could be a really good player.
The obvious wild card for the Broncos’ next franchise face is someone who takes over as quarterback for 2022 Week 1, who will likely be their sixth new leader in as many years.
Trade for Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson or, if he is eligible to play, Deshan Watson and that player automatically becomes the next face. The same thing happens when Patton swings a deal or drafts a quarterback like Matt Coral (Mississippi), Sam Howell (North Carolina) or Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh) to advance.
Recognition of the next face of the franchise won’t be immediate, but the Broncos think there are several in-house candidates to take on leadership duties.
Coach Vic Fangio said, “I don’t think you have to be a captain to be a leader.” “Everyone can be a leader during the day, during the game, at different times during the week. It’s up to everyone to lead themselves, No. 1. It’s best through your actions, not your words.”