Broncos decline Garrett Bolles option, setting up make-or-break year

Jun 4, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos offensive tackle Garett Bolles (72) participates during mini camp drills at the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse at UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos have decided not to exercise the $11.064 million, fifth-year option on left tackle Garrett Bolle’s contract, according to 9news.

Bolles will play for the Broncos in 2020 but will become an unrestricted free agent once the season ends. Bolles is expected to be the Broncos starting left tackle for the 2020 season, assuming he beats Elijah Wilkinson for the job during training camp.

The Utah product has started 48 games for the Broncos over the last three seasons and will look to earn his keep on the field once again in 2020. Bolles has been durable for the Broncos, but he struggles tremendously in pass protection.

The 28-year-old tackle accumulated 13 holding penalties throughout the 2019 season, which was three more than he posted in 2018. Bolles size and athleticism have never been an issue, but his inability to successfully block pass rushers has become unacceptable.

At this point, Bolles needs to show some serious signs of improvement, or he will be looking for another team after next season.

“He still has the ability. He’s got to learn – he’s got to stop the penalties,” Broncos President of Football Operations John Elway said via 9news. “Those are unacceptable anymore. He’s going into his fourth year. They have to stop. But Garett is going to come in and compete.”

Bolles has the skillset to be a successful lineman in the NFL. While his pass protection is putrid, Bolles has been a consistent pillar within Denver’s offensive line and a leading blocker in the run game.

“Obviously, everyone’s frustrated with Garett,” Elway said. “He’s got to stop with his penalties but he did some good things later in the year.”

Bolles performance over the first three seasons of his NFL career has been lackluster, but the jury is still out as to whether he can be a capable lineman at the professional level.

Should Bolles struggle once again, the Broncos can simply let him walk after the season. If Bolles were to show signs of improvement, he could end up out-playing the $11 million he could have made in 2021, and parlay that into a lucrative, multi-year free-agent deal.

Denver’s decision not to extend the fifth-year option to Bolles was wise given his recent performance. That said, the Broncos decision will now provide Bolles with extra motivation, which could benefit both sides in the coming season.

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