Denver Broncos: Defensive line rotation after Shamar Stephen move

Denver Broncos 2021 offseason: Shamar Stephen. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos 2021 offseason: Shamar Stephen. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

The Denver Broncos have been hard at work in the early goings of the 2021 offseason, bringing back players like Justin Simmons, Von Miller, Shelby Harris, and Kareem Jackson while also bringing in some help from other teams.

New general manager George Paton prioritized cornerback Ronald Darby early on in free agency, signing him to a three-year deal. He followed that signing by bringing in cornerback Kyle Fuller from the Chicago Bears just minutes after his release from the team was finalized.

It’s always interesting when a guy comes into a new organization to see what players or personnel they bring in from their previous organization, and so far, George Paton’s inclusion of Minnesota Vikings in the Denver Broncos’ program has been minimal.

Paton signed backup running back and former Viking Mike Boone early on in free agency, and now he has brought in another former Viking in defensive lineman Shamar Stephen.

Although if you scan through fan analysis on Twitter you won’t find a ton of favorable review of Stephen’s game, he’s lasted in the NFL for quite a while at this point.

The Vikings took Stephen in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Connecticut and he’s been a heck of a seventh-round pick. Over the last three seasons (two with the Vikings, one in Seattle), Stephen has started all but three games.

He’s played better than 50 percent of his team’s defensive snaps in four of the last five seasons and is pretty obviously well-liked by the coaches and front office personnel.

With 4.5 career sacks and 14 QB hits in 98 career games, it’s clear that the Denver Broncos are not bringing Shamar Stephen in to lead the pass rushing charge on their defensive line. He will bring some solid experience and depth on a one-year contract to a unit that is rounding out pretty well at this point.

Denver Broncos DL starters

  • Shelby Harris
  • Dre’Mont Jones
  • Mike Purcell

Top Backups

  • DeShawn Williams
  • McTelvin Agim
  • Shamar Stephen
  • Isaiah Mack

Prior to signing Stephen, the Denver Broncos’ defensive line depth was okay, assuming they were projecting improvement from 2020 third-round pick McTelvin Agim.

The Denver Broncos cut veteran Jurrell Casey earlier in the 2021 offseason and they’ve also let DeMarcus Walker walk along with Sylvester Williams.

With Mike Purcell coming off of an injury, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for the Broncos to at least consider bringing in at least one more capable body out there to take part in the defensive line rotation, but perhaps Isaiah Mack is not talked about enough, either. He’s shown some solid potential in limited snaps through his first two seasons in the NFL.

I still think with Stephen on board, the Broncos should consider trying to bring back Jurrell Casey. That would give them a top four they could reasonably rely on and at least three guys who can consistently put pressure on the quarterback on their own.