Broncos: Predictions for team’s restricted free agents in 2021

Denver Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay -- Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay -- Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /
3 of 4
Alexander Johnson, Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos restricted free agent LB Alexander Johnson. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images) /

Denver Broncos 2021 restricted free agent predictions

3. Alexander Johnson, LB (2021 season age: 29)

After being out of football for a few years due to off-field issues while he was a member of the Tennessee Volunteers program, Alexander Johnson signed with the Denver Broncos in 2018 as an undrafted free agent.

At the age of 26, the Broncos essentially stashed Johnson on the roster for the whole 2018 season and no one really knew what the team’s plans for him were beyond that.

When Vic Fangio was hired in 2019, Johnson rode the pine for the first four games of the season before getting into the starting lineup and making an immediate and noticeable impact.

Johnson’s ability to defend the run is among the best in the league at this point and he has developed into a very solid all-around defender, though he clearly excels attacking the line of scrimmage as opposed to playing in space.

In two seasons in Vic Fangio’s defense, Johnson has 217 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, nine quarterback hits, four forced fumbles, 2.5 sacks, five pass breakups, and an interception.

He’s been extremely productive as a three-down defender and even though he will already be 30 in late December, he’s valuable enough to the Broncos to keep around on the second-round tender.

As deep as the 2021 free agent and NFL Draft class are at the linebacker position, there’s probably no way a team is giving up a second-round pick for Johnson, especially at the age of 29 going on 30.

The Broncos should actually try to get a three-year contract with Johnson done if they can, keeping him with the team through his age 31 season. They could probably get him for a reasonable price, but the starting point is obviously right around $3.2 million.

Prediction: 2nd-round tender