ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Even as just about everyone inside the Denver Broncos’ organization has come to develop a great respect and love for Bradley Chubb, the cold-hearted business of NFL teams trying to win at all costs led the Broncos to trade away their star pass rusher.
Chubb and a 5th-round draft pick in 2025 were dealt to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a first-round pick in 2023, a fourth-round pick in 2024 and running back Chase Edmonds about 90 minutes prior to the NFL’s 2 p.m. Mountain time Tuesday trading deadline.
"It was the city (Denver) that gave me my first opportunity to be in the NFL and live out my childhood dream,'' Chubb said in a phone call with 9NEWS minutes after the trade. "I'm much appreciative of everything and just looking forward to a new chapter in my life."
To help replace the depth at Chubb's position, the Broncos acquired backup outside linebacker Jacob Martin from the New York Jets in exchange for the teams flopping 2024 draft picks -- the Jets get a 4th-round selection while the Broncos get a 5th rounder. Martin hailed from Aurora and Cherokee Trail High School.
“I’m excited, man,’’ Martin said in his phone interview with 9NEWS. “Excited for the opportunity. Excited to be back home. Excited to play for a great organization.”
Martin has 1.5 sacks in 8 games off the bench for the Jets this year. He had between 3.0 and 4.0 sacks in his first four seasons with Seattle and Houston. The Broncos also signed former University of Miami product Zach McCloud to their practice squad. McCloud is an outside linebacker who received a $250,000 guarantee as a premium undrafted rookie this year from the Minnesota Vikings but he was among their roster-setting cuts.
Chubb was drawing a $12.716 million salary this year with his $7.064 million remaining transferred to the Dolphins. A contract extension with his new team is possible.
"I wasn't involved (in trade talks) but I kinda figured out at the ending and closing part that things were happening,'' Chubb said. "I'm just happy that I'm going to a good organization that's on the up and up and hopefully I can be a catalyst to continue to help them get going where they need to be."
Later, Chubb was driving out of Broncos' headquarters when he was met by 9NEWS among TV reporters.
"It's the business side, I understand that,'' Chubb said. "It sucks at the moment just because of the guys I'm leaving back there. The relationships I've built over the last couple years. Walking into this facility every day, it's going to be different to go into a different one but I'm excited about the new journey God has for me and my family so I'm looking forward to it."
Edmonds is a fifth-year running back who at 5-foot-9, 210 pounds is considered a better receiving threat than rusher. He has averaged 83 carries and 371 yards rushing in his 4 1/2 seasons -- the first four with the Arizona Cardinals where he was a 4th-round pick in the 2018 draft -- and 31 catches for 226 yards per season with 17 combined touchdowns.
Edmonds, 26, figures to be a nice complement to Latavius Murray, the Broncos' 230-pound veteran who has become the team's most trusted running back. Broncos general manager George Paton said at his trade press conference Tuesday that Melvin Gordon III would remain the starter. Edmonds and Marlon Mack will compete for the No. 3 running back.
Chubb, 26, was a good player for the Broncos even if he fell short of the enormous expectations that came with his No. 5 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. His career began well as he posted 12.5 sacks in his first season to break Von Miller’s previous team rookie record of 11.5 sacks.
But then came a series of injuries that hindered Chubb’s performance over the next 3 seasons. He has one sack through 4 games in 2019 when tests the morning after game 4 revealed a torn ACL – the same ACL he tore earlier in his life. He rebounded some in 2020 when he recorded 7.5 sacks through the Broncos’ first 11 games, a run that led to getting enough votes to receive his first Pro Bowl berth.
But an ankle injury that eventually led to surgery caused him to have no sacks through the final five games of 2020 and none in 2021 as he suffered an injury to his ankle that required surgery.
Chubb returned on a $12.716 million, fifth-year option in 2022 and he responded with his career-best start with 5.5 sacks through the Broncos’ first five games. He did not record a sack in his final three games for the Broncos.
The Broncos’ 2018 draft class was one of the best in the John Elway era as general manager. Besides Chubb, the Broncos took receiver Courtland Sutton in the second round, inside linebacker Josey Jewell in the fourth round and running back Phillip Lindsay as a premium undrafted free agent. Those four quickly became team leaders and all but Lindsay were still with the team entering their fifth season.
But several factors conspired to a logical decision that it was best for the Broncos long term to trade Chubb at the deadline:
*The Broncos are 3-5 entering their bye week and not 5-3. Had the Broncos been 5-3, a playoff berth would have been more likely and Chubb would remained on the roster. Or would they? Surprisingly, Paton said even if his team was 5-3, the deal was too good to pass up.
"We would have made this trade regardless,'' Paton said. "We just felt the value was too good. We believe in our young depth, we believe in our defense. Moving forward we have other holes to fill on the offensive side of the ball. We would have made this trade regardless."
*Plans for Chubb’s exit after the 2022 season were put in place prior to the season when the Broncos fortified their outside linebacker position by using their first draft pick on Nik Bonitto, moving second-year linebacker Baron Browning from inside to the outside, and signing Randy Gregory to a contract guaranteed for $28 million over two years.
*The Broncos did not have a first- or second-round selection for the 2023 NFL Draft and Chubb was the one player who had top-round trade value.
*Chubb’s contract expires after this season and pass rushers of his ilk figure to command a five-year, $100 million contract. Chubb’s injury history carried a little too much risk for such a lofty investment.
In short, the Chubb trade essentially for a first-round pick was a no-brainer for the Broncos' long-term goal to grab the franchise's fourth Super Bowl. But what kind of message does it send to the current coaches and players for 2022?
"The message is we believe in this football team,'' Paton said. "We believe in the depth we have at outside linebacker, our young pass rushers. We've invested a lot at that position. We believe in the leaders on this football team. Especially the defensive leaders we have. D.J. Jones and Josey Jewell and Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson just to name a few. ... At the end of the day we felt this was best for our football team moving forward."
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