The Denver Broncos are releasing safety Darian Stewart, paving the way for what could be a pivotal signing this offseason.
First, the Denver Broncos released safety T.J. Ward. Then they traded cornerback Aqib Talib. Now, they’ve released safety Darian Stewart and are set to watch Bradley Roby walk in free agency.
The No Fly Zone is down to one original member, it’s founder: Chris Harris Jr.
Stewart Tweeted out his farewell, and then his own report was corroborated by a number of local and national reporters.
The Broncos originally signed Stewart to a very modest two-year, $4.25 million contract ahead of the 2015 season after he played really well the year before with the Baltimore Ravens.
That move ended up being a great one for the Broncos, and over the next four years, Stewart played a key role for the No Fly Zone as the free safety until the band broke up in 2017 when Ward was cut.
He wasted no time making an impact in Denver, sealing a victory with an interception off of new Broncos quarterback (then Ravens quarterback) Joe Flacco in a season-opening thriller.
Stewart would go on to pick off nine passes for the Broncos while racking up 250 total tackles, and a 10th interception for the Broncos in the 2015 playoffs against Tom Brady in the AFC Championship game.
Though Stewart’s play fell off drastically this past couple of seasons, he was a great Bronco for the majority of the first three years of his time in Denver, and the team was so impressed by him, they signed him to a contract extension before his second year with the team was even through.
Stewart signed a four-year, $28 million deal with the Broncos, and had two years remaining on that deal prior to his release.
The Broncos save about $3.57 million on this year’s cap and have a dead money hit of $2.8 million.
This move undoubtedly has an implication on free agency, where the Broncos are said to be in the market for secondary help.
One obvious connection to be made in free agency is between new Broncos head coach Vic Fangio and free agent safety Adrian Amos, who grew into one of the top strong safeties in the NFL while Fangio was in Chicago.
They spent the past four years together, and the thinking is that Amos — who would be a much better complement skill-wise to Justin Simmons — could help Fangio install the defense from an on-field perspective.
The safety market is significantly over-saturated. The Broncos would be wise not to over-spend there. With that said, Amos is likely to attract a pretty hefty contract on the open market so if the Broncos want him, they are going to have to pay up.
If the Broncos sign Amos, what will that mean for their other free agency pursuits? Will they still be able to get a starting caliber cornerback? Will they be able to re-sign Matt Paradis or even fill out the entire offensive line with capable, proven starters?
Signing a big money safety seems like a luxury for the Broncos, but Amos’ familiarity with Fangio’s defense could give him a unique edge in the Broncos’ free agent shopping priority list.