Denver Broncos: 8 free agent linebacker options in 2021

Denver Broncos possible free agent Eric Wilson. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos possible free agent Eric Wilson. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports /
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Denver Broncos, Eric Wilson
Denver Broncos possible free agent target Eric Wilson. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos under new general manager George Paton have big decisions to make and the clock is officially ticking.

There is only one month between now and the start of the new league year which means the free agency frenzy is merely weeks away at this point. Paton and the Denver Broncos’ coaching staff have been hard at work figuring out a gameplan for how to keep building this team.

Paton said that in the Denver Broncos he inherited a “sleeping giant” from John Elway, who has been rebuilding the roster since the conclusion of the 2017 season, a disastrous final attempt at keeping the pieces of the Super Bowl 50 roster together.

One area of the team that has been a fairly consistent focus since the 2015 championship season is the linebacker position. The Broncos seem to have struck gold with 2018 undrafted free agent Alexander Johnson, a restricted free agent in the 2021 offseason who is coming off of a tremendous year.

In addition to Johnson, the Denver Broncos still have fellow 2020 starter Josey Jewell under contract for the 2021 season. Jewell and Johnson started all 16 games for the Broncos in 2020 and both filled up the stat sheet, making some highlight-reel plays along the way.

Will both be back as starters again in 2021 or will the Broncos turn to free agency for upgrades?

If that’s the strategy, there are plenty of names to keep an eye on. Let’s take a look through some of the possible fits.

Denver Broncos 2021 free agent linebacker targets

Pick Analysis. EricWilson. 50. player. 60. Scouting Report. Age. 26

Not including Wilson in a post about free agents with clear connections to the Denver Broncos was an obvious oversight.

After being mostly a rotational defender and special teams player for the Vikings from 2017-19, Wilson emerged as a full-time starter and playmaker on the Minnesota defense in 2020, playing 96 percent of the defensive snaps and racking up 122 total tackles, nine quarterback hits, eight tackles for loss, three sacks, eight pass breakups, a forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries.

At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, he ran a really impressive 4.53 in the 40-yard dash at Cincinnati’s 2017 pro day. His 39.5-inch vertical jump and 25 bench press reps showed even more of his physical and athletic prowess.

Because George Paton has overseen Wilson’s entire development, there is a decent chance he could end up in Denver taking one of the two starting positions for the 2021 season.

He’s in line for a strong free agent contract but he’s still relatively flying under the radar.