Derek Wolfe’s return to the defense from a four-game PED suspension has been widely met with excitement from teammates this week, as they welcome a player that three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller calls “one of the best run-stopping players we have on our team and really in the AFC West.”

Miller is in a contract year, looking forward to a massive payday after the Kansas City Chiefs shelled out $101 million ($52.5 million guaranteed) to Justin Houston on a six-year deal. Denver’s star outside backer should fetch north of that figure, at least in guarantees.

Wolfe, too, is on a contract year; however, a payout seems far more tenuous. In addition to his ill-timed PED suspension, Wolfe has battled health issues and has put up solid – but not eye-popping – numbers. As the No. 36 pick overall in 2012, many expected better from Wolfe.

On Sunday against Oakland, Wolfe begins a 12-game span that will determine his financial fate, and potentially his fate with the Broncos. His teammates are well aware of the former of those two, and expect big things from Wolfe as a result.

Fellow defensive end Malik Jackson joined Rodney Smith on Sports Stampede on Mile High Sports AM 1340, saying he’s well aware that Wolfe is in a contract year and hungry to prove “he’s a wolf.” (Get it?)

Jackson, like Miller, is excited to have another run-stopper joining a Broncos defensive line that already ranks eighth in the league. He recognizes that the interior line, including himself, has been strong against the run, but can improve on the pass rush. Wolfe, a five-technique run stopper by trade, will be a big help. And that could lead to a big payday.

Jackson spoke on Wolfe, as well as how the team’s study has helped them succeed, in the podcast below…

Listen to Sports Stampede with Mark Knudson and Michael Klahr every Saturday from 8a-10a on Mile High Sports AM 1340 or stream live any time for the best local coverage of what’s new and what’s next in Colorado sports.