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Broncos trades: Acquire LB Griffith from 49ers, deal WR Benson to Lions

Late-round draft picks involved in both trades. GM George Paton made deals with Denver's disappointing special teams play in mind. Griffith a special teams standout.

DENVER — No one works the back-end of the roster like Broncos general manager George Paton.

Late Monday night, after first cutting 15 players from his roster, Paton made two trades that were set on improving the Broncos' special teams that have underperformed in recent years and again during the preseason.

In a mild surprise, the Broncos dealt receiver Trinity Benson to the Detroit Lions in exchange for fifth- and seventh-round draft picks, a source told 9NEWS. The Broncos also sent Detriot a sixth-round draft pick from the 2023 draft.

Simultaneously, 9NEWS confirmed the Broncos acquired linebacker and special teams standout Jonas Griffith from the San Francisco 49ers in the exchange for sixth-round draft pick in 2022 and seventh-round pick in 2023. The Broncos also get San Francisco's 7th-round draft pick in 2022.

In essence, this is a Griffith for Benson swap with the Broncos now having two 5th-round picks and three 7th-round picks in the 2022 draft. The Broncos did give up their sixth round picks in both the 2022 and 2023 drafts, plus their 7th-round pick in 2023. They have two years to fill their late-round void in the 2023 draft.

Credit: AP
Los Angeles Chargers running back Larry Rountree III, left, is tackled by San Francisco 49ers linebacker Jonas Griffith during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

In the meantime, special teams.

Benson had been on the Broncos' practice squad the past two years. A promising receiver with great speed, he had a terrific training camp and preseason. However, Benson wasn't going to contribute on special teams as Diontae Spencer is solidified as the team's top kickoff and punt returner.

Benson, thus, was likely going to be inactive in the opener against the Giants as the No. 6 in a crowded receiver room that also features Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Tim Patrick and Spencer. 

Griffith, 24, hails from Indiana State. He was a rookie last year who spent time on the Indianapolis Colts' practice squad. He is large at 6-foot-4, 250 and runs well, the characteristics Broncos' special teams desperately need.

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