Miller, who was sent to the Los Angeles Rams for second and third-round picks in the 2022 NFL draft, will be forever missed by Broncos Country, but Paton made sure to receive great value for a guy who will be 33, next season, and was unlikely to return to Denver anyway in 2022.
Paton has been masterful at accruing draft capital for 2022, as the Broncos now have 11 picks — plenty of ammo to perhaps use to make another mega-trade in the offseason, as Denver tries to solve its dreaded quarterback situation.
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The first-time general manager has been putting his imprint all over the Broncos’ roster since being tabbed the man to succeed legend John Elway, back on January 12, 2021. The NFL’s November 2 trade deadline had a few marquee names, with Miller being the biggest catch. But Paton had one more deal up his sleeve before the 4 p.m. EST deadline.
Cornerback on the Move
The Broncos (4-4) entered 2021 with one of the deepest cornerback rooms in the league, an envy of most league executives — and that was strengthened by the selecting of Patrick Surtain II with the No. 9-overall selection in the April 2021 draft.
Surtain II has been every bit as good as advertised, sporting a 63.7 coverage grade by Pro Football Focus — a 58th cornerback ranking, meaning the esteemed site sees him as a worthy starter despite his youth.
Paton decided that he currently has enough depth at the position, which is why he sent another rookie packing, Kary Vincent, Jr., to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 2022 sixth-round pick. A seventh-round pick by the Broncos, the former LSU star spent the entire 2021 season on the 53-man active roster, but never got on the field in Denver.
Trading Vincent, Jr. could be viewed as a sign that the Broncos believe their cornerback depth will increase in the coming weeks, as fellow second-year players Essang Bassey (torn ACL in December, 2020) and Michael Ojemudia (hamstring injury in late August, 2020) will both be ready to play soon. Both players are set to begin practicing with the team, this week.
They’ll both be needed additions, because the Broncos will be losing the services of a prominent cornerback for at least three weeks.
Bryce Callahan Out Again
Perhaps the team’s best corner since his Denver arrival in March 2019, veteran Bryce Callahan will be shelved for the time being, as the team placed the former Rice star on injured reserve with a knee injury.
The Broncos do not expect Callahan’s hyperextended knee to require surgery, but according to a tweet by Denver 9News’ Mike Klis, Callahan is expected to miss “significant time.”
Callahan, who’s registered 21 tackles, four pass breakups, and one sack so far in 2021, will be missed. Broncos Country, though, should sadly be used to this, as he’s missed 22 games during his Denver tenure. Callahan’s first season in Denver was a wash, as he missed the entire 2019 campaign, due to a lingering foot injury he suffered while with the Chicago Bears in 2018. He also missed the final five games in 2020.
Tight End Noah Fant Placed in Covid Protocol
The return of second-year tight end Albert Okwuegbunam was rather timely for the Broncos, as starting tight end Noah Fant may miss time, due to Covid protocol. The Broncos made the move on November 2, and have yet to announce how long Fant will remain on the list, or if he’ll be ready to play at the Dallas Cowboys, November 6.
Fant has had an uneven 2021 campaign, as he’s caught 37 passes for 320 yards and three touchdowns so far. If he can’t go against the Cowboys (6-1), then the Broncos will be expected to turn to a rotation of Okwuegbunam, sixth-year veteran Eric Saubert, and tight end/fullback hybrid Andrew Beck. Combined, the trio has combined for just 18 catches, 131 yards, and a touchdown in 2021.
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