Former Broncos OL Dalton Risner Finds New Home in NFC

Dalton Risner

Getty Former Denver Broncos LG Dalton Risner looks on before a game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Entering the offseason, the Denver Broncos had to make a decision on how to improve their offensive line, and that meant moving on from free agent left guard Dalton Risner.

Six months later, heading into Week 3, Risner has found himself a job, signing a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Per Mike Klis of 9News in Denver, Risner’s deal is worth $4 million with $2.25 million guaranteed.

Risner, 28, will reunite with offensive line coach Chris Kuper, who was with the Broncos from 2019 to 2021.

“It’s fair to say this wasn’t the best market for offensive linemen, for guards,” Risner told Klis. “But one thing I’m proud of is I made sure to find the right deal with the right team with the right coaches. I love Coach Kuper. I love Coach [Kevin] O’Connell. I went on a visit there and we started our relationship there.”

Risner, who had been ranked by ESPN as the 36th best free agent available, had visited the Vikings early during training camp but left without signing with the team.

“We really just wanted to bring him in and get to know him a little better. Use the process of the visit to do that and see if we can possibly take what we think is a strong group and make it even better,” Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell said on August 1.

Dalton Risner’s Time in Denver

While playing high school football in Wiggins, a small town an hour northeast of Denver, Risner grew up a huge Broncos fan with the dream of one day playing for the orange and blue.

After playing center and right tackle at Kansas State, Risner was selected by the Broncos in the second round of the 2019 draft, just one pick before Denver selected quarterback Drew Lock. The Broncos moved Risner to left guard and was named the opening day starter next to left tackle Garett Bolles.

During his four seasons with the Broncos, Risner started every game that he played, missing only four games. In the 62 games he played, he gave up 10 total sacks, and in 2020, he didn’t give up a single sack, according to Pro Football Focus.

Risner told Klis that he had been watching the 0-2 Broncos.

“Yes, I’ve been watching. I have mixed feelings about the situation, but there’s a lot of guys on that team that I love,” he said, according to Klis. “There’s a lot of things about that organization that I’m grateful for. I want them to succeed. There’s a lot of people in Denver I love and I would never wish anything badly.”

The Broncos will host the Vikings on November 19 on Sunday Night Football.

Denver’s Offensive Line Has Struggled Early in 2023

In the offseason, the Broncos spent nearly $80 million in guaranteed money on Ben Powers and Mike McGlinchey to improve one of the team’s worst offensive lines in franchise history. The Broncos line gave up 63.0 sacks in 2022, tying a franchise record set in 1963.

Through Denver’s first two games, the line has given up 9 sacks, third most in the NFL.

Powers and McGlinchey are better run blockers than pass protectors, but the Broncos have executed 66 pass plays to only 36 rushing plays. Denver is averaging 4.8 yards per carry (tied for fifth in the league) but has just one rushing touchdown.

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