The Denver Broncos have signed former Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Darius Phillips.
Phillips was selected by the Bengals in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL draft. He became a regular contributor for the Bengals; across four seasons, he appeared in 47 games and logged 1,024 defensive snaps.
In 2019, he had four interceptions in only 109 defensive snaps. He played a larger role on defense in 2020 recording a career-high 38 combined tackles, 12 passes defended, two forced fumbles, and one interception.
Since 2019, Phillips has a 75.9 PFF grade, which is tied for 22nd among all NFL cornerbacks.
Phillips also has experience as a return man. For the Bengals, he returned 30 total punts averaging 7.0 yards per return, and he returned 25 total kicks averaging 21.7 yards per return.
Rookie Montrell Washington is expected to remain as the team’s primary return man, but Phillips will still be a valuable special teams player. In college, he was named the MAC Special Teams Player of the Year twice (2016, 2017).
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Broncos Waive CB Essang Bassey
In a corresponding move, the Broncos waived cornerback Essang Bassey. The Broncos signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2020. As a rookie, he appeared in 12 games recording 23 combined tackles, three tackles for loss, and one interception.
In 2021, he played one game for the Broncos. In December, they waived him, and he was claimed by the Los Angeles Chargers. After playing one game for the Chargers, he was waived again. The Broncos subsequently claimed him.
Following the addition of Phillips and the departure of Bassey, the Broncos now have five cornerbacks on their roster: Pat Surtain II, Ronald Darby, K’Waun Williams, Damarri Mathis, and Phillips. They also have cornerback Michael Ojemudia on the reserve/injured list.
Russell Wilson Wants the Broncos to Be a ‘Destination’ Location
On September 1, the Broncos signed Russell to a five-year, $245 million contract extension. The deal actually freed up $7 million in cap space this season, and unlike Deshaun Watson’s extension, it is not fully guaranteed. Wilson spoke about the deliberate structure of the deal.
“To me, what it’s really about is being able to win championships and be able to have enough space on the salary cap so that George gets to make his magic and we get guys like Randy Gregory when he comes on the team or other great players,” Wilson said via team reporter Aric DiLalla. “I think that we want to make this a destination location. I think it’s one of those things where we have an amazing tradition of an amazing football team. We’ve got a lot of amazing new faces. … I think what’s important, too, is you surround yourself with amazing players. For me, I love these guys. We’ve been having a blast. It’s been an amazing joy, and so, for me, it wasn’t really about how much, necessarily. It was about how many — how many Super Bowls are we going to win? And that’s really the focus.”