ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — There were Day One signs of the Russell Wilson Effect.
Or maybe it was the Coach Hackett Affect. Rob Walton Affect?
Whoever gets the credit, there appeared to be a few more prominent veterans walking through Broncos headquarters Monday as players reported for physicals and the start of the team’s offseason program.
Serious conditioning work – weights and cardio – begins Tuesday. Among those who were there for Day 1 but not there for conditioning last year because of COVID-19 concerns and the union’s offseason boycott attempt were starting safeties Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons.
Wilson, of course, was there. The Broncos’ new star quarterback has already established his work ethic through off-site workouts with his offensive teammates. There is less fear of the virus this year (knock, knock) and less noise from the union this offseason about boycotting the voluntary workouts.
Last year, two Broncos players – right tackle Ja’Wuan James and backup receiver DaeSean Hamilton -- suffered season-ending injuries while working out on their own away from the team’s facility.
Some Broncos showed up Monday to sign contracts – namely Jackson, outside linebacker Malik Reed, No. 3 quarterback Brett Rypien and backup safety/special teamer P.J. Locke. Of those four, the player who signed the richest deal was Reed, who got a one-year, $2.443 million as a low-tendered restricted free agent. The Broncos keep trying to make Reed a backup, but he wound up with 34 starts through his first three seasons while the more heralded Von Miller had 22 starts and Bradley Chubb had 25.
The Broncos brought in free-agent Randy Gregory to replace Miller, who is now a Buffalo Bill, but Gregory will spend this offseason rehabilitating his surgically repaired shoulder. And so Reed will run with the No. 1 defense again this offseason.
Jackson’s base salary is $2 million, down from $5 million last season, although he has reachable play-time incentives that can take him to $4 million with another $1 million in difficult-to-earn incentives. It’s the second pay cut in two years for Jackson, testament to his love of playing the game of football even as he’s a few hours past his 34th birthday.
Rypien and Locke signed their exclusive rights free-agent tenders of $965,000 and $895,000, respectively. It’s the team that has the exclusive rights so once the contract is offered, the signing is a formality.
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