There are still two notable former Bronco players who are left on the market. Let's try to predict where these two players will land in the 2023 season. The two players of note are cornerback Ronald Darby and guard Dalton Risner. Both players were replaced by the Broncos this offseason, so there really doesn't appear to be much of a chance that either returns.
Ronald Darby tore his ACL against the Indianapolis Colts in week five of the 2022 NFL season. From then until September, when 2023 kicks off, that would be roughly 11 months for Darby to recover, so he should be able to play when week one comes around.
Darby is excellent in coverage, and he was very good in his two short seasons with the Broncos. He's not going to intercept a ton of passes, but he's a sound player that will provide some stability in a secondary. At this point in his career, I don't think Darby necessarily wants to chase the money and try to sign with a team that would give him the most on a contract.
I think Darby would prefer to sign with a contender. One team that sticks out to me is the Jacksonville Jaguars, who could use another cornerback and veteran presence in a young secondary. The Jags are projected to start Tyson Campbell and Darious Williams at their CB spots, but they don't have much else to write home about besides those two.
Darby would fit nicely in Jacksonville, I think. He probably wouldn't have the pressure of needing to start each week but does have a clear shot at significant playing time. The Jags look to improve on their breakout 2022 season, and I'd say that their defense is more of a question than their offense. Adding to the defense feels like the direction for the team to take if they were to make more free agency moves.
I predict that Ronald Darby will eventually sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Now, Dalton Risner. Some may think that Risner is shockingly still a free agent, but some may not be surprised at all. His infamous shove of Brett Rypien on the sidelines of the Denver Broncos Christmas Day collapse versus the Los Angeles Rams could be a reason why teams have stayed away.
Risner might have also initially asked for way too much money. I mean, he was largely seen as one of the best OL free agents on the market by the national NFL landscape, and over three months into the free agency period, he remains unemployed. Risner may have to humble up and take whatever deal he can get from a team that may have an opportunity for him to start.
Local Denver reporter Mike Klis had said that Risner was drawing interest from seven teams a few weeks ago, but I don't buy that. You mean to tell me that 22% of the NFL has had recent interest in Risner but he has not signed a deal?
Dalton Risner is a fine run blocker but is quite poor against the pass. He could probably start for a low-end offensive line and I think, at this point, he's probably accepted that he isn't going to get an offer close to what he wants. His best bet is to hope he plays well in 2023 and sign a big deal in 2024.
Where will Risner sign? Well, I don't think he's going to limit himself to a certain amount of teams. He's still young and hasn't gotten his first big payday, so there's probably a wide range of fits.
As annoying as it might sound, a team that makes sense for Dalton Risner is the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks were a surprise team in 2022 because of the shocking breakout performance from Geno Smith. One big sore spot for the Seahawks and their projected starting lineup is their interior offensive line. They're projected to start Damien Lewis, Evan Brown, and Phil Haynes at their interior spots. Yuck.
Dalton Risner might just be good enough to play one of the guard spots. If not, he'd surely get some play time in 2023 with the Seahawks. They signed former Bronco Dre'Mont Jones in 2023, and also have former Broncos in Drew Lock and Noah Fant, who came over in the Russell Wilson trade.
Risner might also feel a bit slighted by the Broncos not extending him, so maybe he'd want to try and stick it to the Broncos a bit by signing with the Seahawks. You never know. I'll predict that Dalton Risner ends up on the Seattle Seahawks for the 2023 season.