What Denver Broncos should do with each of their upcoming free agents
The linebacker spot is where things are going to be extremely interesting for the Broncos this offseason. They have three key players ready to hit free agency and they will almost certainly let at least one of them walk.
Johnson is the most talented player on this list and watching him grow in Denver has been one of the better stories on the team over the last handful of years.
The decision this offseason will likely be between him and Josey Jewell, who both suffered season-ending injuries this season.
Johnson will likely have the more active market but that injury, which forced him to miss more than half of the regular season, could keep teams back. That said, he will also be more expensive to keep than Jewell after making $3.3 million this past season.
I’d prefer to see the Broncos keep him around but with the emergence of Baron Browning, the team may decide it’s not worth the money after a season marred by injury.
The Broncos should also strongly consider drafting a guy like Georgia’s Nakobe Dean in the upcoming draft and a move like that would make Johnson completely expendable.
Decision: Move on
Jewell actually suffered the same pectoral injury that sidelined Johnson for the entire year, but he had that injury happen earlier and he missed even more time.
It was a shame for Jewell, who was slowly turning into a key piece of the team’s defense.
Looking at his contract from last year, Jewell made just a tad over $793,000 in the final year of his rookie deal and coming off the injury, he’s not in line for a huge deal, so the team could keep him at an affordable rate.
For those reasons, the Broncos can bring him back unless another team likes him so much that they offer him a deal he can’t refuse.
Like Weatherly, the Broncos traded for another defensive player in the final year of his contract, but the team only gave up a sixth-round pick in 2024 to get him.
Young finished the year a little banged up, an issue that plagued the linebacking corps all year, but the former fourth-round pick is still just 27 years old and he has shown the ability to make plays during his career.
If the Broncos allow Johnson to walk and keep Jewell and Young behind Browning, they have good depth at inside linebacker with both Jonas Griffith and Justin Strnad still on the roster.
If they use a high draft pick on the position, it will be much improved from this previous season.
Young appeared in just six games for the Broncos and the team needs to see more out of him. They can sign him to a new short-term deal and have him earn his keep.