2019 Free Agency
Kareem Jackson, safety: A
The Broncos signed Kareem Jackson and it seemed like he would fill a void at the cornerback position, but the team’s vision for him was to play safety.
Although he was forced into some nickel corner duties early, Jackson made the move to safety and wound up being one of the best players on the entire team in 2019.
He had 71 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, 10 pass breakups, two interceptions, a forced fumble, and a defensive touchdown against his former team, the Houston Texans. Jackson was sensational all year, but a DUI from September got him in trouble with the league and he missed the final two games of the season due to suspension.
Ja’Wuan James, right tackle: C-
I don’t know what other grade to give this move at this point in time, but injury prevents this signing from a flat out ‘F’ grade. The Broncos signed James to a four-year deal worth $53 million in total money and he was hurt in the first game of the season.
He tried coming back and was hurt again in the 8th game of the season.
He tried coming back yet again and sat out the rest of the year. It turns out he had an injury to his MCL and meniscus, and couldn’t get over the mental hurdle of his knee buckling, something he said he’d never experienced before while playing.
He looked good when he was out there, albeit in limited snaps, but we saw it in preseason play and we saw it in the regular season a bit. James is a good player. The Broncos desperately need him to stay healthy next year.
Injuries are out of the player’s control, but the Broncos need James to get right for the 2020 season and prove his worth as the team’s most expensive free-agent pickup this past season.
This grade is based on the fact that signing James was the right call by the Broncos — both necessary and he is a talented young player. I would say the signing was a B+ on paper and a D for on-field results so far (injury).
Bryce Callahan, cornerback: C-
This grade is determined the same way the James grade was determined.
Signing Callahan was an awesome move by the Broncos at the time, even considering he was coming off of a season-ending foot injury.
Callahan has been one of the best corners in football over the past four years and he played in Vic Fangio’s defense in Chicago. The price to get him — three years, $21 million — is a very team-friendly contract for a starting corner of his caliber.
He re-injured his foot in camp and didn’t play a down in 2019. We did see him balling out a bit in training camp, but never during a game.
Signing on paper: A
On-field results: D/injury
Why am I giving out ‘D’ grades instead of ‘F’ grades? I believe the ‘F’ grade should be reserved for poor/inept play, not for players who get hurt. Injuries happen all the time. Bradley Chubb doesn’t get an ‘F’ for his play in 2019 because he was hurt.