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Bronco notes: Patrick contract conversion helps net Eagles' top tackler Alex Singleton

GM Paton says he has interest in bringing back Kareem Jackson, Bryce Callahan. Broncos better equipped to compete in QB/pass rush strong AFC West.
Credit: AP
Philadelphia Eagles' Alex Singleton reacts after a stop during the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Getting a little cramped in salary cap space following the big trade for Russell Wilson and big signings of Randy Gregory and D.J. Jones, Broncos contract guru Rich Hurtado found some relief in the contract of receiver Tim Patrick.

Working with agent Chase Callahan, Hurtado moved roster bonus money to signing bonus and Voila! the Broncos had another $4.6 million in cap space.

An hour or so after the Patrick contract gymnastics, Voila! Voila! the Broncos signed two quality veterans to one-year contracts: Quarterback Josh Johnson and inside linebacker Alex Singleton, who got a $1.1 million fully guaranteed deal with another $750,000 in playtime incentives.

Dollar for dollar, Singleton may have been the best value on the free-agent market. Which fits since snap per tackle, he was the NFL’s most productive tackler the past two seasons.

Undrafted out of Montana State in 2015, a fan favorite for three years in the Canadian Football League, Singleton, 28, led the Philadelphia Eagles in tackles the past two seasons with 120 in 2020 and 137 in 2021. Of the eight players who had back-to-back, 100-tackle seasons in 2020-21, Singleton had by far the fewest snaps – 30% fewer than the average playing time of the other seven top tacklers.

Singleton, who is also a top special teams player, figures to start alongside Josey Jewell – who returns on a two-year, $11 million contract – with second-year player Baron Browning likely to be used in third-down passing situations.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos strong safety Kareem Jackson (22) reacts after a play during an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)

Kareem, Callahan return?

The Broncos didn’t get everyone they wanted in free agency. General manager George Paton said Friday cornerback, and maybe two, remains a need, as is the starting safety spot next to Justin Simmons.

Bryce Callahan was the Broncos’ nickelback last season and Kareem Jackson was their starting safety. Both hit free agency this week.

“We’re talking to Kareem’s folks as well as Bryce,’’ Paton said. “We’d like both of them back. Both of them are really good players and good leaders.’’

Paton didn’t tender restricted free agent DeShawn Williams but he brought the versatile defensive lineman back on a one-year contract Friday.

Credit: AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn
Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Von Miller after an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Nov. 15, 2021.

Von a Bill

It came down to his current Los Angeles Rams and the Buffalo Bills for Von Miller. The Bills won out in large part because they guaranteed a third season at around $17 million while the Rams only guaranteed two years. The Broncos never placed a call to Miller’s agent as they were focused on signing Randy Gregory for their outside linebacker position.

“Randy was our priority. Randy Gregory was our priority in free agency,’’ Paton said. “We wish Von the best. He’s going to do great things in Buffalo.”

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos new starting quarterback Russell Wilson, center, hods up his new jersey while flanked by head coach Nathaniel Hackett, right, and general manager George Paton after a news conference Wednesday, March 16, 2022, at the team's headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

AFC West Arms Race

The Chargers with quarterback Justin Herbert and receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams added cornerback J.C. Jackson and edge rusher Khalil Mack. The Raiders with quarterback Derek Carr added pass rusher Chandler Jones and receiver Davante Adams. The Chiefs with quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce and receiver Tyreek Hill added receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and safety Justin Reid.

And the Broncos added QB Wilson and pass-rusher Gregory.

“You look at every team and you look at all the quarterbacks: If you don’t have one, how are you going to compete?’’ Paton said. “If you don’t have a rusher, how are you going to get after the quarterback? If you don’t have the corners and if you don’t have a (Pat) Surtain, how are you going to stop Davante Adams? There are weapons all across the division. There are pass rushers and there are quarterbacks. We embrace it. We look forward to the challenge. It’ll be pretty cool, I think.”

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