Jonas Griffith injury reinforces Broncos need to sign another ILB

Denver Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Jonas Griffith is set to miss an extended period of time with an elbow injury. Even before this injury, the Broncos needed to sign another inside linebacker.

An argument could have been made before Jonas Griffith’s elbow injury that the inside linebacking unit for the Denver Broncos was the worst position group on the roster.

With Griffith now likely out for over a month, this becomes even more true.

Sure, some may say that the ILB position has become devalued in today’s NFL.  Teams are employing defenses with more defensive backs, and many of these DBs are in a hybrid role, being able to “play” linebacker.

However, the Denver Broncos are in a different situation.  They are a team ready to compete and win now.  They aren’t in a rebuilding phase or anything even remotely close.  They’re now in a position where they can and need to continually put the best possible team on the field.

The Buffalo Bills’ 2022 offseason was a perfect example of this.  In reality, they probably didn’t need to sign Von Miller, Jamison Crowder, or the plethora of players along the defensive line.

However, they did so because they know their window to win a Super Bowl is wide open, and if they have the ability to sign good players, then why not do it?

I think the Broncos and George Paton should have the same mindset.  They are solid at most positions but could find upgrades in free agency.

The team should have signed a veteran receiver like Will Fuller or Emmanuel Sanders when Tim Patrick went down.  They are both proven players who would give the team a boost.

I also think they could add another proven cornerback to the room as well.

Now that the Broncos have suffered what appears to be a somewhat significant injury to an already thin room, the need to sign another player, another serviceable player, becomes more urgent.

I do think the Broncos could find value in bringing back Alexander Johnson, who, with Josey Jewell, made one of the league’s best ILB duos.

Established, solid players like Anthony Hitchens, Dont’a Hightower, and former Bronco Danny Trevathan are also free agents who could sign with the team.

In my opinion, one of the negatives of George Paton is his seemingly stubborn “next man up” mentality.

At the beginning of his tenure, he harped on the idea of building a strong culture in-house and rewarding those players accordingly.

He kept his word thereby extending both Justin Simmons and Shelby Harris.  He also brought Kareem Jackson back, gave Josey Jewell a new contract, and extended both Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick.

All of those players are the tone setters and leaders for the Denver Broncos, but I think George Paton needs to open up a bit more.

Denver seems to want to rely on this next man up mentality for the injured Tim Patrick, who is set to miss the 2022 season.  The Broncos have a slew of young, bottom-of-the-roster receivers who are now getting extra chances with Patrick’s injury.

However, it’s very likely that players like Kendall Hinton, Montrell Washington, and Seth Williams won’t be able to come close to trying to replace the production that Tim Patrick gave.

This is where I think George Paton should get active.

For example, the Buccaneers recently signed Julio Jones because of their need for another receiver.  Instead of hoping that one of their younger or unproven guys steps up, they simply brought in a talented veteran.

I wish George Paton would do this more.  At this point, I don’t expect him to bring in a veteran inside linebacker, but there are proven players out there who could step up for Jonas Griffith.