ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Mike Purcell, who had been cut 10 times by six teams, has come home again to find financial security.
A gap-stuffing defensive tackle from Highlands Ranch, Purcell signed a new three-year contract extension with the Broncos on Tuesday that secures him through 2023. Purcell was making $3.259 million this year as a second-round tendered restricted free agent. That stays in place but he has three more years tacked on with a total value of $14.8 million that includes a guarantee of $6.8 million per source.
"It's amazing, it's a complete blessing,'' Purcell said in a Zoom press conference with members of the Denver media. "The journey has been up and down. There's been multiple times where you're thinking about hanging 'em up or maybe it's time to move on and start a real career working.''
It’s a remarkable story of perseverance.
Purcell was a second-team All-State defensive lineman for Highlands Ranch High School in 2008 before he played four years at the University of Wyoming. Undrafted in 2013, he signed with the San Francisco 49ers and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
He was moved from the active roster to practice squad three times until he was claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Rams in 2017. That season, Purcell spent time on practice squads with the Bears (where Fangio had moved his defensive coordinator position), Carolina, New England and Kansas City. Among the Chiefs’ final roster cuts in 2018, Purcell was out of football until he played February and March of 2019 for Salt Lake City in the Alliance of American Football before he was signed by Broncos’ general manager John Elway, with influence from Fangio, just prior to the 2019 NFL Draft.
"That year (2017) in general kind of hurt, but just gotta keep pushing,'' said Purcell, who added he was giving thought to trying to become a firefighter had the AAF been the end of his football playing days as it was for many others. "If I didn't keep pushing I wouldn't be here today."
Purcell not only made the Broncos’ season-opening roster last year, he became a starter in game 5. The insertion of Purcell at defensive tackle and Alexander Johnson at middle linebacker transformed Denver’s run defense from one that surrendered 190 rushing yards in the second half to Jacksonville’s Leonard Fournette, to ranking No. 6 in the league with 3.9 yards per carry in the 16 games since then.
Purcell had 48 tackles with 8 tackles for loss last year. He sacked Ben Roethlisberger in game 2 this season.
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