Denver Broncos Nik Bonitto in line for big role with Malik Reed trade?

Denver Broncos, Malik Reed - Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos, Malik Reed - Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos have traded outside linebacker Malik Reed to the Pittsburgh Steelers, paving the way for rookie Nik Bonitto to have a bigger rookie season.

As the Denver Broncos get closer to the 53-man roster limit, they have made a deal with an AFC North team. The team is sending outside linebacker Malik Reed to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Denver is receiving a late-round draft pick in return for Reed, which is unfortunate that it wouldn’t at least be a mid-round pick, but not extremely surprising.

Reed finishes his Broncos career with 45 games played, 15 sacks, four passes defended, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. He was credited for 30 quarterback hits including 17 in 2020.

While Reed has remained on the roster, the acquisitions of Randy Gregory (free agency) and Nik Bonitto (second-round draft selection in 2022) made the position of outside linebacker strong enough that the Broncos could afford to ship Reed off.

It’s also possible we see someone like Baron Browning help out at outside linebacker, something the Broncos have been working toward this offseason.

Nik Bonitto could see more action for Denver Broncos in 2022 than previously expected.

While rookie Nik Bonitto won’t surpass Bradley Chubb or Randy Gregory on the depth chart, the Broncos will be able to put him on the field with ease. In today’s NFL, you have to have depth at every position.

In certain circumstances, we will be able to see Bonitto get to work as a rookie in place of Chubb or Gregory. One of the concerns about both of those players is their injury history.

Chubb underwent ankle surgery last season and during his second year in the league (2019), he tore his ACL. He’s going to have to prove that he can go a full 17-game season without getting severely injured. He has only played a full season during his rookie year.

Gregory underwent shoulder surgery after signing with the Broncos. The hope and expectation is that he will be ready to go in Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks.