Denver Broncos: What should the team do with these 2022 free agents?

Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

The Denver Broncos have a pretty solid roster as it stands right now. There will probably be plenty of changes by this time next year, though, as the team has some key contributors currently scheduled to become free agents in 2022.

Not only that but there are multiple players at the same positions that might be on their way to a different team next year.

As they continue to figure out what their identity as a football team is, they are bound to face some hiccups at some point down the road. That road will likely (at least in my mind) start in 2022 with some difficult decisions.

Let’s start off at wide receiver.

There have been many rumors that a wide receiver would be included in a trade package to get Aaron Rodgers to Denver. Some say Tim Patrick, while most happen to say DaeSean Hamilton (plus a lot more compensation).

Courtland Sutton, Patrick, and Hamilton are all currently scheduled to become unrestricted free agents in 2022. You will see me say the word “currently” many times throughout this article because it won’t shock me if they get into contract negotiations with some of these players.

Which and how many of the three will make it to that point with the team?

Well, it would be disappointing to lose Sutton and Patrick. Hamilton, being pretty much a non-factor throughout his time in Denver so far, would be the easiest to move on from.

I would imagine that Sutton does not have a lot of leverage—at least right now. After he tore his ACL in 2020, things could be difficult for him during negotiations.

I think that Sutton will have to put up some really, really good numbers in order to draw a big contract extension. I’m not comparing the two players’ injury history but look at Ja’Wuan James. The team signed him to a huge contract and he just can’t stay healthy.

What I’m saying is, it might be a good idea to think long and hard before handing out a huge contract to a player who tore his ACL, unless he does really well for the team in 2021 and can prove that the injury is behind him.

Patrick would be an interesting trade piece. He filled in for Sutton in 2020 and became very reliable. With the Broncos drafting Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler in 2020, it would sting less to see Patrick be part of that trade.

If the Rodgers trade does not go down, I would be more than happy if the Denver Broncos signed Patrick back.

Hamilton will have to really impress in training camp if he wants to stay on the team much longer. With the team drafting a wide receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft, things got much tougher for him.

Denver Broncos free-agent linebackers

The following players at linebacker are currently scheduled to become unrestricted free agents in 2022:

  • Von Miller
  • Alexander Johnson
  • Josey Jewell
  • Natrez Patrick

Throughout the offseason—and even during the season, there has been speculation toward Von Miller and his future in Denver. Will they re-sign him or let him walk?

You can make an argument either way. Will he get back to his 10+ sack form? Or will he show the fact that he is on the other side of 30 like so many players do?

The issue I have with letting Miller go is that the Broncos, after losing Jeremiah Attaochu, don’t have much in terms of starting-caliber outside linebackers. That is unless they feel strongly about Malik Reed.

Alexander Johnson was a name that I included in a previous article about players who could be traded during the draft. He ended up not getting traded and will be a starter on the inside.

Johnson may be viewed as expendable with the return of Justin Strnad, and the addition of Brandon Browning through the draft.

As for Josey Jewell, it would not surprise me if they happened to move on from him, as they are looking for speed at the position. Jewell just isn’t it.

The last three players I want to talk about are quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, safety Kareem Jackson, and running back Melvin Gordon. To be honest, it would not surprise me if all three players were gone after the 2021 season.

Bridgewater’s fate from the Denver Broncos might depend on whether or not he wins the starting job, or if he even impresses in training camp, securing the backup job. It also depends on whether or not Aaron Rodgers ends up becoming a Denver Bronco.

Jackson signed a 1-year deal after he was released by the team, and the Broncos drafted two safeties who could be impactful sooner rather than later.

Gordon has had legal issues, and while charges for his DUI were dropped, his contract will be up after the season. The Broncos traded up for UNC running back Javonte Williams in this year’s NFL Draft, and he could be the lead back fairly quickly.

2018 draft pick Royce Freeman is also an unrestricted free agent following the season.

I feel like they will go a different direction to pair with Williams, whether it be a free agent pickup or adding more running backs in the 2022 NFL Draft.

So now, Denver Broncos fans, I ask you:  Which players would you like to see the team re-sign next year?