Derek Wolfe: Denver Broncos sign DE to four-year extension

Dec 28, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe (95) before the game against the Cincinnati Bengal at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 28, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe (95) before the game against the Cincinnati Bengal at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos announced they have signed DE Derek Wolfe to a four-year contract extension through the 2019 season.

The Denver Broncos and John Elway are taking care of their own in 2016, starting with star DE Derek Wolfe, who was an AFC defensive player of the week against the Packers this year and a steadily improving player. The deal is reportedly for four-years, worth over $17M in guarantees and over $36M total…

Not only has Wolfe been ‘steadily improving’ he’s also been one of the best players on a defense in Denver that has been the best in the NFL over the course of this season. Of course, the Broncos were without their newly signed defensive end for the first quarter of the season because he violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

For the team to hand out over $17 million in guarantees to Wolfe is a testament to their faith in him as both a player and a person off the field, but it’s also a pretty darn good bargain for John Elway and the front office.

In terms of guaranteed money over the life of the contract, Wolfe’s deal isn’t even worth $5 million per season. In terms of total money, it’s roughly $9.175 million per year. It’s a hefty pay raise for the former 2nd round draft choice, no doubt, but Wolfe’s promise to Broncos fans that he’d take a hometown discount have proven true.

Wolfe’s Improvement in 2015

There’s no question Wolfe has been at his best in the 2015 season. A stellar run defender from day one, we’ve started to see the development of his pass rush arsenal since he’s gotten healthy in the last two years. At the beginning of the 2013 season, Wolfe suffered a very scary spinal injury in a preseason game, and wasn’t the same the rest of the year.

He ended up fainting on the way to the team’s flight to Kansas City, was held back in Denver, and was considered to be in pretty serious condition as far as football injuries go.

In 2014, it was clear that Wolfe was still working his way back from being injured, from having to recover from said injury, and re-acclimating himself to the grind of a football season. What had to be really tough was keeping his weight up after losing so much of it the year prior.

In 2015, the Broncos certainly missed Wolfe but were unscathed through four games. His re-insertion into the lineup unleashed a beast and the team is obviously going to be excited to see him disrupting plays for years and years to come.

Next Man Up?

The Broncos’ official website called this move the ‘first step’ toward keeping as much in place on this defense as possible for the future. We’ve seen teams like the Seattle Seahawks take some hits at certain positions, but for the most part, they’ve been able to keep the core of their defense in-tact and I hope the Broncos take a similar approach. Obviously, contracts are divvied up much differently between Seattle and Denver from 1 to 53, but there’s a precedent for keeping a great defense together and the Broncos need to figure out how to make it happen.

DeMarcus Ware will be guaranteed $10 million next season, and that could certainly be looked at this offseason. Aqib Talib’s contract is almost an annual re-commitment by the Broncos, so that can be re-visited as well if need be. There are a lot of options for the Broncos, but the top priority this offseason is going to be figuring out how many zeroes to add to the end of Von Miller’s blank check, essentially.

When the Broncos pay Von Miller, it’ll be interesting to see how they handle bringing back other contract year players like Malik Jackson, Danny Trevathan, Brock Osweiler, and Ronnie Hillman.

There will be flexibility, but there will also be some blows suffered. Who will John Elway keep? We know Derek Wolfe is on that list, and he’s been checked off.