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Broncos notes: Tight end Matt LaCosse to become unrestricted free agent

The Broncos also had a "productive" meeting with Matt Paradis' agent at the combine.
Credit: AP
Denver Broncos tight end Matt LaCosse (83) tries to elude Los Angeles Rams defensive back Marqui Christian (41) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

KUSA – The Broncos informed tight end Matt LaCosse they will not tender him a salary, thus releasing him to free agency, a source told 9NEWS.

There is still a chance LaCosse could return at a reduced rate than what he could have made as a restricted free agent. He was eligible for restricted free agency, but the lowest tender, a $2.025 million salary for 2019, is a little rich for a player who has primarily been a No. 3 tight end. After injuries to Jake Butt and then Jeff Heuerman last season, LaCosse did start the final four games for the Broncos.

He had just three catches in his first three NFL seasons, but broke out for 24 receptions for 250 yards last year. LaCosse is a fine receiver, but at 6-foot-6, 255 pounds, he does not have the build to be a power blocker.

And in the zone-blocking run scheme that new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello is bringing back to Denver, a plus-blocking tight end is a necessity. The Broncos will try to add a “blocking” tight end through free agency.

However, the Broncos informed LaCosse's agent they would like to bring him back at a salary considerably less than $2.025 million.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos tight end Matt LaCosse (83) is hit by Cleveland Browns free safety Jabrill Peppers (22) during the first half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Kreiter, Shelby, "Sunshine" updates

The Broncos are also not expected to tender two other notable restricted free agents: Long snapper Casey Kreiter and receiver Jordan Taylor.

Kreiter is coming off a Pro Bowl season, but long snappers all make close to $1 million a year – the NFL’s highest-paid long snapper is the Los Angeles Chargers’ Jake McQuaide, whose average salary is $1.175 million a year. The lowest RFA tender is nearly double that at $2.025 million.

The Broncos assuredly won’t tender Kreiter that kind of salary so the only way the team would keep him is if they can work out a multiyear deal worth about $1 million or so a season.

Taylor was nicknamed “Sunshine” during his rookie practice squad season of 2015. He first drew notice for his spectacular catches during training camp and for becoming Peyton Manning’s personal rehab receiver.

Taylor made the Broncos’ 53-man roster in 2016 and had 16 catches and two touchdowns. He added 13 receptions while bringing much needed stability to the Broncos’ punt return position in 2017. But he underwent surgeries on each hip last year and he never recovered in time to play next season, all but eliminating the chance of the Broncos tendering him a $2.025 million salary as a restricted free agent this season.

One restricted free agent the Broncos are expected to tender is defensive lineman Shelby Harris. The question is whether to give him a low, or original-round, tender at $2.025 million or a second-round tender at $3.095 million. Harris was originally a 7th-round draft pick by Oakland, so an original-round tender would mean any team trying to sign Harris away would have to give the Broncos a 7th-round pick as compensation.

It’s unknown whether the Broncos will tender backup quarterback Kevin Hogan, although his case it wouldn’t hurt as restricted free-agent salaries are not guaranteed.  

Paradis not gone yet

During NFL Combine week, the Broncos met with the agent of starting center Matt Paradis, who is less than two weeks away from becoming an unrestricted free agent. The meeting was characterized as “productive” by one source.

Although at this point it appears Paradis will hit the market on March 13, Broncos general manager John Elway has said he would like to retain him if the price is right.   

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos tight end Matt LaCosse celebrates after scoring during the second half of the team's NFL football preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)