Entering the Week 8 matchup in Denver against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Broncos were rumored by numerous members of the NFL media to potentially be trading away multiple players on the defensive side of the ball including a starting linebacker. However, after Sunday's impressive victory, most of those talks have cooled down but for sixth-year inside linebacker Josey Jewell, the speculation continues to gain traction following a stout performance.
In the divisional win, Jewell recorded five tackles, one pass breakup, one forced fumble resulting in a turnover, and what should have been a sack that was negated by a holding penalty on the defense. Jewell put together a complete performance and arguably played like Denver's best inside linebacker on the field Sunday. While it was an encouraging game all around, it begs the question, did his performance ultimately raise his trade value?
Jewell, 28, is currently in the final year of his two-year, $11M contract and is set to hit free agency in the offseason of 2024. Despite playing exceptional football in the first half of the season, the Broncos did draft versatile and talented linebacker Drew Sanders in the third round to inherit the starting role alongside veteran tackling machine Alex Singleton. If the Broncos are going to refuse to award Jewell a second contract extension in the offseason, it may be smart to move on now and gather any draft capital you can garner in a trade.
On Monday, October 30th, the Broncos promoted inside linebacker Ben Niemann to the active roster after an undisclosed team attempted to poach him off Denver's practice squad, per 9News' Mike Klis. However, could there be more to this scenario? Perhaps the Broncos are promoting Niemann with the plan to eventually trade Jewell in the coming hours leading up to the trade deadline.
Niemann's elevation was reportedly due to wide receiver Brandon Johnson being placed on the injured reserve meaning there was an available roster spot however, the Broncos can still trade Jewell and promote another player from the practice squad. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has rarely carried five inside linebackers on his active roster therefore, this is what makes the elevation of Niemann a bit interesting.
With the trade deadline soon approaching and the Broncos headed into a bye week, Josey Jewell could have very well played his last game with the Denver Broncos. Just because the team grabbed a big win against a tough divisional opponent does not mean the front office will be resistant to trading away any players.
In 2022, the Broncos won a big game on the road against a talented Jaguars team that improved their record to 3-5 heading into the bye week with the trade deadline just days away; identical to the situation the 2023 Broncos are in now. Days following the win over Jacksonville, general manager George Paton traded away pass rusher Bradley Chubb to the Miami Dolphins knowing they were not going to pay him when his contract was up. The exact same situation is presenting itself with Jewell and could very well be a headline over the next 24 hours.