The Denver Broncos sorely missed Vance Walker’s prowess against the run in 2016, and could look to make him a top in-house priority…
Vance Walker was one of the most underrated missing pieces of the Denver Broncos’ defense in 2016 after playing a key role in 2015 as a free agent pickup from Kansas City.
Walker was a valuable piece of the defensive line rotation that also featured an emerging superstar in Malik Jackson, who also left this last offseason for a big money contract in Jacksonville. He was supposed to take over this past season for the departed Jackson, but a torn ACL at training camp in August prematurely ended his season.
Still just 29 years old, Walker is a player the Broncos could look to bring back on a two year contract and for a decent price. Walker was part of a very underrated free agent class of 2015 that also produced Pro Bowl safety Darian Stewart, who is now paid handsomely as one of the league’s best.
The injury sustained by Walker leaves questions about where he is health-wise. After all, the injury happened only five months ago. The Broncos likely have all the clarity they will need in regards to his recovery, and perhaps could wait to sign him until he is closer to being fully healthy.
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That would be a pretty significant risk, however, as Walker will likely generate interest elsewhere around the league, even in a relatively deep defensive line free agent class. He has versatility to play all over the line, but is a great anchor against the run and plays with a mean streak. He had 33 tackles and two sacks in the Broncos’ Super Bowl season, but played his most pivotal role on the first two downs.
Denver is likely to look for plenty of help on the defensive line this offseason with the impending departure of nose tackle Sylvester Williams, defensive end Billy Winn, and of course Walker being a free agent. There’s plenty of uncertainty but John Elway and the rest of Denver’s front office have undoubtedly been planning on spending some money in this year’s free agent crop, knowing there would be solid defensive linemen available.
If the Broncos opt to dedicate their top free agent finances elsewhere, Walker could be back, teaming up with Jared Crick, Adam Gotsis, and Derek Wolfe to bring some toughness back to the Broncos’ run defense, which struggled badly in 2016.