Broncos Named ‘Best Team Fit’ for $12 Million Former 1st-Round Pick

George Paton, Denver Broncos

Getty General Manager George Paton of the Denver Broncos.

The Denver Broncos could need an infusion of talent on defense. They have several key contributors set to hit free agency. One potential loss in particular – linebacker Josey Jewell – could pave the way for a new face at the second level of the defense.

Including Jewell, the crop of free-agent linebackers is deep.

Former NFL safety Matt Bowen, now an analyst for ESPN, believes the Broncos would be the “best” fit for Baltimore Ravens free agent Patrick Queen.

“With Josey Jewell hitting free agency, the Broncos could opt to replace him with Queen, who can clean up in the run game, drop in coverage and create pressure on blitz stunts,” Bowen wrote on February 20. “He would bring a physical and productive presence to the middle of the Denver defense.”

Queen, 24, was the No. 28 overall pick in the 2020 draft.

His 133 total tackles in 2023 would have ranked second on the Broncos. Only Alex Singleton, who ranked third in the NFL with 177 stops, had more.

The 6-foot, 230-pound Queen also recorded 3.5 sacks with six pass deflections, one interception, one forced fumble, and one recovery last season. He also earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl. Perhaps most significantly, he has been durable.

He has never missed a game in four NFL seasons.

Coming off his four-year, $12.2 million rookie scale contract, Spotrac projects Queen to command a deal worth $18.5 million annually.

Broncos Have to Get in Cap Compliance Before Spending in Free Agency

Justin Simmons, Denver Broncos

GettyJustin Simmons #31 of the Denver Broncos.

The Broncos have to get their books in order before they can even consider spending significant money on an off-ball linebacker. They enter the offseason $25.9 million over the salary cap.

Denver can get to upwards of $32 million in cap space this offseason. It will take a series of cuts, trades, or restructures with several players on the roster.

The Denver Post’s Parker Gabriel reported “some action” was “likely” on safety Justin Simmons.

“The big decision, truly, is with Simmons even though he’s not an impending free agent,” Gabriel wrote on February 18. “Third contracts are always tricky, but Simmons is still playing at a high level and would be a centerpiece for new passing game coordinator/DBs coach Jim Leonhard.”

Simmons joins Garett Bolles, D.J. Jones, Tim Patrick, and Courtland Sutton as players to watch on that front.

Josey Jewell Could Be Broncos’ Best Fit

Josey Jewell, Alex Singleton, Denver Broncos

GettyLinebackers Josey Jewell #47 and Alex Singleton #49 of the Denver Broncos.

“Denver already made one modest but important move, re-signing Jonas Griffith for 2024 after he was set to become a restricted free agent,” Parker wrote.

“The Broncos would do well to upgrade the overall athleticism and range at this position. With the limitations in cap space and draft picks, however, it may make the most sense to put the band back together for 2024, find a deal that works with Jewell and pair him again next to Alex Singleton.”

Denver gave Griffith a one-year, $985,000 contract extension on February 14.

Jewell projects to command a contract worth $7.5 million annually, significantly less than what Queen might end up signing for. Familiarity is one thing. But the financial aspect could very well outweigh the other factors in this potential decision in free agency.

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