The Denver Broncos have released Randy Gregory in a free agency debacle that many fans saw coming from a million miles away. Not that fans should be dictating every move the team makes, but it's clear that there was one move in the 2022 free agent signing period that made sense for the Denver Broncos when it came to adding a veteran pass rusher, and one move only.
That move was signing Von Miller.
After signing Randy Gregory, general manager George Paton revealed that Gregory was the team's top target in the pass rush department in free agency. That statement was controversial at the time because Gregory was in a free agency class that included both Von Miller and Chandler Jones, two veterans with a much better history of production.
Von Miller's availability was also coupled with a desire -- on his end -- to return to Denver. Although Miller had made a number of social media posts about potential teams he could play for as a free agent, he seemed rather excited about the potential of coming back to Denver.
The Broncos signed Randy Gregory to a five-year, $70 million deal with $28 million in guaranteed money. Effectively, it was a two-year deal and a "well see" after that. Von Miller signed a six-year deal with the Buffalo Bills worth over $51 million in guaranteed money. The reality is, the Broncos probably weren't going to give Miller that kind of guaranteed cash, but they still decided to overpay for Gregory.
The problem isn't just that the Broncos signed Randy Gregory, it's that they apparently never even made Von Miller an offer to come back. They misevaluated Gregory's projection beyond Dallas completely, and made this signing out of a place of desperation. The Broncos knew Von Miller. They knew his daily habits. They knew exactly what he could bring to the field. They knew how he worked in their locker room.
They knew everything about him. They knew virtually nothing about Randy Gregory, whose $70 million deal came on the heels of playing less than 38 percent of Dallas's defensive snaps the year prior. The reality is, whether due to injury, suspension, or anything else, Gregory had never been an every-down player and the Denver Broncos allocated funds toward him unnecessarily.
The Broncos had two in-house defenders, pieces of a roster that general manager George Paton called a "sleeping giant", that were soon to be up for new contracts. Namely, the Broncos had Dre'Mont Jones and Bradley Chubb entering contract years in 2022 and decided to dole out cash to Randy Gregory instead.
Nothing about that signing made or makes sense, other than the fact that the Broncos wanted to upgrade their pass rush. The Broncos have been consistently aggressive in free agency in George Paton's first three years on the job, but they have been paying relatively top dollar to average (or worse) free agents.
If the Broncos went into 2022 free agency with a budget that couldn't include Von Miller returning, why would they take such a massive risk on a player like Randy Gregory, who didn't even play 50 percent of his team's snaps the year before? It's not like Gregory was in his mid-20s at that point, either. He's 30 and will be 31 in November.
Overall, this was a bad signing by the Broncos from the beginning. Even after opening our minds to it, Gregory ended up being exactly what everyone feared he might be -- unavailable most of the time, and not effective enough of the time.