Broncos Lose Playmaking Safety to Season-Ending Injury: Report

Caden Sterns

Getty Denver Broncos S Caden Sterns reacts after the Jacksonville Jaguars miss a FG.

Despite the Denver Broncos losing to the Las Vegas Raiders during their Week 1 matchup 17-16, the Broncos suffered a blow to their defense.

Safety Caden Sterns suffered a leg injury early in his 2023 debut and was then carted off after throwing his helmet down with tears in his eyes.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Sterns is expected to miss the entire season with a torn patellar tendon.

Sterns was ready to have a breakout season after only playing in five games last year after undergoing season-ending hip surgery.

Broncos Had Big Plans for Sterns

Last season, Denver had one of the better safety duos in the NFL with All-Pro safety Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson playing opposite.

According to James Palmer of the NFL Network, the Broncos had big plans for Sterns as he entered his third season in the NFL.

“Vance Joseph (defensive coordinator) and his staff love this guy,” Palmer said. “He is versatile, he is extremely intelligent, he’s got excellent ball skills. They have big big plans, I am told, for Caden Sterns back there with Pat Surtain and Justin Simmons.”

Sterns has only started in five games for the Broncos, but has made plays when he’s been on the field. Over the past two seasons, Sterns ranks third behind only Simmons and Surtain in interceptions with four.

The former Texas Longhorn has sacked the quarterbacks twice in his career and has totaled up 49 tackles including two for a loss.

Who Steps Up for Sterns?

The original plan for the Broncos entering the offseason was to roll with Sterns and Simmons as their top two safeties because Jackson’s contract expired.

In Joseph’s current defense, the Broncos will get creative and use three safeties a number of times to try and catch the opposing quarterback off guard as well as cover the receiving tight ends in today’s game.

Denver decided to re-sign Jackson to a one-year deal to add some depth to the safety room after spending the previous four seasons with the Broncos.

With Sterns’ injury, the Broncos will now have to look to rookie safety JL Skinner and second-year safety Delarrin Turner-Yell.

Turner-Yell is a fifth-round pick and appeared in 14 games last year as a rookie and combined for eight tackles. The former Oklahoma Sooner also has two fumble recoveries in his young career.

Skinner on the other hand didn’t play in Denver’s first game of the season, but will likely suit up and get some playing time in Week 2 against the Washington Commanders.

If the Broncos do want to look to free agency, they could target veteran safety Lamarcus Joyner.

The nine-year veteran has spent time with the Rams, Raiders, and most recently the Jets.

Joyner signed a one-year deal with New York in 2021, but was placed on injured reserve after suffering an elbow injury.

Last season, Joyner started in 14 games for the Jets and intercepted three interceptions and knocked down six passes. Joyner also had 57 tackles two quarterback hits.

There’s a real possibility that Denver could target the waiver wire moving forward to find another safety to add some depth to their safety room.

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