Broncos Trade Receiver, Sign 49ers Linebacker

Getty The Broncos' new piece, Jonas Griffith breaks up the pass to Mecole Hardman of the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium on August 14, 2021.

After an intense offseason the Denver Broncos have settled on a 53-man roster, but not before making moves at the trade table.

Denver released or waived 25 players on Tuesday August 31, in addition to making two trades — with Detroit and San Francisco respectively.

Receiver Depth Proves Costly for One

The Broncos traded away wideout Trinity Benson and a 2023 sixth-round pick to Detroit in exchange for their fifth and seventh-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Benson, an East Central product, spent last season on the Broncos practice squad before making an impact in preseason — catching eight passes for 80 yards and two touchdowns.

After the trade, Broncos General Manager George Paton was glowing in his praise when speaking to Denver media during his press conference on August 31, branding Benson a “success story.”

“A lot of credit goes to [Wide Receivers Coach] Zach Azzanni who developed this kid,” Paton said. “We got him out of East Central [University] I believe and came from nowhere. For him to develop into a pro receiver—we had a lot of teams calling on him. I think it’s a great story and the credit goes to Trinity—another great person.

“He was down the depth chart here because we are talented there. It’s a credit to him that teams were calling. We just thought it was a win-win for us to get value, a win for Trinity, and really a win for the Detroit Lions. We’re excited for him. He’s a great person and he’s going to do well in Detroit.”

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Special Teams Help Arrives From San Francisco

Denver’s second move involved the addition of a much-needed piece to the Broncos’ special teams puzzle; inside linebacker Jonas Griffith. 

The Broncos traded away 2022 sixth-round pick and a 2023 seventh-round pick. for Griffith and the 49ers’ 2022 seventh-round choice.

Griffith, (6-4, 250 pounds) a first-year player from Indiana State University, signed with San Francisco as a college free agent following the 2020 NFL Draft. After being waived in training camp, he spent time on the Colts’ practice squad. Eventually he re-joined the Niners on October 21, spending the remainder of the 2020 season on their practice squad.

Paton lavished praise of Griffith, revealing his plan for the promising linebacker.

“What really stuck out from him watching the preseason tape is his special teams play,” Paton told reporters.

“This kid is 6’3, he can run, he can fly and he’s really going to help our special teams. I think we need help on special teams. From last year and even in training camp, probably not good enough. This guy is going to add. He’s going to help us, and we’re excited to get him.”

“He’s a core guy and gives us more depth at linebacker. We’ve got some really good athletes back there and he’ll just add. We’re trying to get faster and trying to get more athletic, and he’ll add to that. I think we have a lot of depth at a lot of positions on defense, so that will just help us.”

Broncos head coach Vic Fangio wasn’t as effusive when discussing Griffith but did express his enthusiasm at what the 24-year-old could bring.

“We’re hopeful that  Jonas (Griffith) can come in here, pick things up quickly in the special teams area and be a contributor on all four phases,” Fangio said.

In four seasons (2016-19) at Indiana State, Griffith played 44 career games and totaled 382 total tackles, 15.5 sacks (91 yds.), four forced fumbles, three interceptions (15 yds.) and three fumble recoveries.

Denver may establish a practice squad of up to 16 players (including up to six vested veterans) beginning Wednesday.

Follow Patrick Djordjevic on Twitter: @Patdjordjevic

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