The Denver Broncos inside linebacker position faces the tough task of trying to find somebody to replace Josey Jewell, who departed for the Carolina Panthers during NFL Free Agency.

What is our first look at the state of the position room as OTAs begin?

Denver Broncos face tough task of replacing Josey Jewell

Josey Jewell was the mainstay of the Broncos inside linebacker room dating back to 2018, and now the team is tasked with trying to find his replacement for this upcoming season.

Jewell appeared in 78 career games for the Broncos and emerged as one of their most reliable playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. He had 236 tackles in the past two seasons combined, along with 5.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, and seven passes defended, according to Pro Football Reference.

He’s now a member of the Carolina Panthers, reuniting with former Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero.

Broncos LB competition begins during OTAs

Alex Singleton is the lone returning starter to the Broncos linebacker group this season. The starting job next to him is entirely up for grabs, and it will boil down to Justin Strnad, Cody Barton, Jonas Griffith, and undrafted rookie free agents Levelle Bailey out of Fresno State and Air Force’s Alec Mock.

Bailey and Mock will have steeper climbs in the competition and will have to dramatically turn heads during OTAs, Training Camp, and the NFL Preseason.

Strnad, Barton, and Griffith should receive ample opportunity to take the job with their combined experience. Barton has the most six years, Strnad with five years, and Griffith with four years.

Griffith is fully healthy and ready to go after suffering a torn ACL during training camp last year, while Strnad returns after choosing to re-sign with the Broncos during free agency.

Barton was one of Denver’s free agent acquisitions, coming over from the Washington Commanders. He appeared and started in 13 games for Washington and finished with 121 tackles.

Going into the offseason, Barton appears to be the projected starter on paper, but Griffith and Strnad are wildcards.

Griffith and Singleton have started regular season games for the Broncos in the past, in particular against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season.

He’d go on to start eight games for Denver that season before suffering a season-ending foot injury that ultimately led to Singleton starting long-term for the Broncos.

He’s also a player who has been on an upward trajectory from a developmental standpoint and is a key contributor on special teams.

OTAs are the first step in all of the ongoing position battles that we’ll see come to the forefront of training camp in July!