Broncos Pushed to Make Crucial Decision on 20-Sack Pass Rusher

Bradley Chubb

Getty Images Bradley Chubb of the Broncos warms up in 2019.

The Denver Broncos have 20 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents in 2023, with some of them being candidates for contract extensions.

One of them, Bradley Chubb, should be a priority signing for general manager George Paton, according to Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski.

Chubb, the Broncos’ 2018 first-round pick, has missed 24 games over the past two seasons, but “injuries seem to be the only thing holding Bradley Chubb back from becoming one of the game’s best edge edge defenders,” Sobleski wrote in an opinion piece published July 5.

“Because of Chubb’s injury history, the Broncos could slow-play a contract extension,” Sobleski wrote. “If they wait, they could have to pay significantly more to keep Chubb. … They might get a discount if they extend him before the season starts, and that’s what they should do.”

New Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero said Chubb “looks good,” Sobleski noted.

“He’s looking good. He’s feeling good,” Evero told reporters on June 14 during mandatory minicamp. “He’s expecting to have a big year, and we’re expecting the same thing from him.”

Chubb’s Up & Down Tenure

Chubb, 26, the fifth overall pick in the 2018 draft, had a tremendous 12 sacks in his rookie season. He also finished third in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting.

Since then, injuries have factor into Chubb’s inconsistent play. He played only four games in 2019 before tearing his ACL. He bounced back in 2020 to make 7.5 sacks in 14 games and go to his first Pro Bowl. But he missed 10 games in 2021 with an ankle injury before returning to the field November 28. He played six of the Broncos’ final seven games of the season, finishing with 21 tackles and zero sacks.

He got other rave reviews during June’s mandatory minicamp in June.

“You can tell that he’s comfortable,” defensive lineman Mike Purcell told USA Today on June 6, Sobleski noted. “You can see him coming around that edge. … He can bend and move so he’s looking how he was his rookie year.”

The Broncos would certainly sign up for rookie Chubb in 2022. The team did show faith in 2021 by exercising Chubb’s fifth-year option. But if the club doesn’t extend him and he does show his rookie-year form, the Broncos would likely have to pay big money to sign him as a free agent next summer.

In the fifth and final year of his contract, Chubb is set to make $13.9 million, just slightly over his market value of $13.3 million, according to Spotrac.

Paton’s Philosophy

During the offseason, the Broncos have extended in-house players with expiring contracts such as wide receivers Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick. Paton has also signed 10 in-house players to one-year deals this offseason, which helped the team sign free agent pass rushers Randy Gregory and defensive lineman D.J. Jones.

The Broncos’ 90-man roster has approximately $9.5 million in remaining salary cap space, according to the NFL Players Association. Given the extensions of Sutton and Patrick in the offseason, it’ll be interesting to see if Paton extends Chubb who, like both extended players, wasn’t drafted by Paton.

Chubb is 26 years old and has 20.5 sacks in just 41 games. You can easily make the case it’s a bad time — or a great time — to extend Chubb.

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