Broncos Trade $70 Million Pass Rusher to NFC Contender

Randy Gregory

Getty Former Denver Broncos OLB Randy Gregory reacts after a play against the San Francisco 49ers.

On October 4, there were multiple reports that the Denver Broncos were going to release veteran pass rusher Randy Gregory, but that wasn’t the case.

According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, the Broncos are trading Gregory to the San Francisco 49ers.

Per Adam Schefter of ESPN, Denver is sending Gregory and a 2024 seventh-round to the 49ers for a 2024 sixth-round pick.

Since Gregory does have a large contract, the Broncos will pay roughly $10 million for the rest of the 2023 season and the 49ers will pay the veteran minimum this year, per Schefter.

After this season, Gregory will not have any more guaranteed money left on the final three years of his current deal.

Randy Gregory’s Time in Denver

In the 2022 offseason, Gregory had agreed on a deal to return to the Dallas Cowboys on a five-year, $70 million deal. With the Broncos also interested in him, Gregory backed out of the Dallas deal and signed with Denver on basically the same terms.

He wound up appearing in just 10 games for the Broncos and starting six of them. In 2022, Gregory he played in only six games, registering 2 sacks and 7 quarterback hits and forcing 2 fumbles.

He suffered a knee injury in Week 4 that landed him on injured reserve until Week 15 against the Arizona Cardinals. There were also two games where Gregory failed to make the box score because of his lack of production.

This season, Gregory had one sack and 9 total tackles in four games. In two of them, he failed to record a single tackle.

Another Bad Look for George Paton

When the Broncos hired general manager George Paton in 2021, he was known for having an eye for talent and working the back end of rosters unlike anyone else in the NFL. But that hasn’t necessarily been the case. In addition to his signing Gregory, his signing of veteran free agents Ronald Darby, Kyle Fuller and Mike Boone in 2021 didn’t work. None is on the current roster.

The day before the 2021 draft, he signed veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to compete with Drew Lock. That experiment lasted just one season, and neither QB is on the current roster.

In 2022, Paton signed D.J. Jones and K’Waun Williams to beef up the defensive line and secondary, respectively. Jones has not replicated the success he had with the San Francisco 49ers, and Williams had just 1 interception in 14 games last year and has not played this year because of injury.

With issues at the middle linebacker position, Paton refused to go out and find linebackers that can go sideline to sideline. Instead, he went out and signed Alex Singleton to a one-year deal, but re-signed him this year along with Josey Jewell.

With the right tackle spot being an issue since 2014, Paton signed Tom Compton, who battled injuries all year, and Billy Turner. Neither was the answer at right tackle and neither is on the roster one year later.

Paton also traded for Russell Wilson after what had been the worst season of his career and signed him to a five-year deal. Wilson is playing better this season under new head coach Sean Payton.

It’s fair to say that we can put the Gregory signing on the bad list of moves made by Paton.