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Bryce Callahan saga reaches season's end

Broncos finally say 'uncle' to cornerback's possible return from foot injury by placing him on season-ending injured reserve.
Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Denver Broncos cornerback Bryce Callahan takes part in drills during an NFL football organized training activity session at the team's headquarters Monday, May 13, 2019, in Englewood, Colo.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Pull the flusher on that $6.5 million.

The Broncos finally gave up hope that prized cornerback Bryce Callahan could play this season by placing him on injured reserve Friday. He will undergo surgery in the coming days to replace the bent screw that was inserted during a previous foot surgery last December.

His spot on the Broncos’ roster was needed to make room for receiver Tim Patrick, who was activated from IR after missing the previous eight games to recover from surgery to repair a broken hand.

Because of the sport’s injury factor, money is wasted all the time in the NFL. Still, losing Callahan hurts the Broncos more than usual because the cornerback didn’t play a snap after signing a three-year, $21 million in March.

It also raises the question whether Callahan should have been signed in the first place because he was coming foot surgery to repair a broken fifth metatarsal, an injury that caused him to miss the final three regular-season games for Vic Fangio’s Chicago Bears’ defense last season, plus a first-round playoff game.

That’s easy to say now, but players recover from foot surgeries all the time and the Broncos were led to believe Callahan would, too.

RELATED: Broncos' Callahan likely headed for season-ending injured reserve

"Part of his operation, which is routine, they put a screw in there to promote healing and the screw got bent," said Fangio, who is now the Broncos’ head coach. "It caused him a lot of discomfort and pain. Some guys have been able play through with that based upon the level of discomfort and pain. His level was too high for him to play through that. Basically, the screw got bent. I don’t know what having a screw bent in your foot feels like it."

The screw may have been bent during the Broncos’ stadium practice on July 27. Fangio said after that practice that Callahan was pulled out after his foot was stomped on during play. Callahan never practiced fully again, nor did he take a snap during the  preseason and regular season.

Callahan still receives the $6.5 million in signing bonus and salary this year and he has another $3.5 million in roster bonus next year that is already fully guaranteed. He also has a non-guaranteed $3 million salary next year, but teams aren’t in the practice of eating $10 million to save $3 million so Callahan will return to try it again next year.

"He should be," Fangio said. "According to the medical people, it’s a routine -- it’s hard to say routine when you’re talking about somebody else’s operation -- but it happens a lot. That’s what they do when somebody gets that injury. He should recover from it."

It’s been a tough-luck free agent class for the Broncos. They also gave $2.25 million to running back Theo Riddick, who broke his shoulder in his first preseason game and will miss the entire season. And Ja’Wuan James, who is collecting $17 million this year as the NFL’s highest-paid right tackle, has played about two quarters through the first 9 games this year because of a sprained left knee. And James won’t play Sunday at Minnesota, either, although he and tight end Jeff Heuerman are officially listed as doubtful.

The Broncos do expect second-year receiver DaeSean Hamilton to play. He slipped and rolled his knee and left practice Thursday but he said he felt good after receiving treatment Friday morning.

Hamilton practiced Friday and though he is listed as questionable, he said he would play against the Vikings.

RELATED: Klis' Mike Drop podcast: Broncos coming off the bye, 1-on-1 with Connor McGovern and looking ahead to the Vikings game



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