Although the Denver Broncos emerged victorious Sunday afternoon versus the Los Angeles Chargers, they lost defensive end Derek Wolfe for the rest of the season due to a dislocated elbow.
The injury came in the fourth quarter with just over two minutes left to play. Los Angeles was pinned and decided to go for it on 4th and 1. Los Angeles snapped the ball, and the play was blown dead due to a Charger’s false start, but the referee’s whistles fell on deaf ears as the play continued, ending with Wolfe grabbing his elbow in writhing pain.
Mike Purcell noted on @Derek_Wolfe95 IG post that the ball should have never been snapped on the play that resulted in Wolfe's injury. Dan Feeney (No. 66) was called for false start. Whistle should have been blown immediately to end the play.
Watch … pic.twitter.com/1XjeOvc9no
— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) December 2, 2019
Wolfe departed the game following the injury, and speculation immediately ensued that his season could be in jeopardy.
Despite the event, Wolfe managed to poke some fun at the play, tweeting a gruesome still shot of the injury.
— Derek Wolfe (@Derek_Wolfe95) December 2, 2019
Ian Rappaport first reported Monday morning that the Broncos decided to place Wolfe on injured reserve, subsequently ending his season.
According to Broncos insider Mike Klis, Wolfe’s injury will require surgery that is expected to sideline him for roughly 6-8 weeks.
Coach Vic Fangio opened up about Wolfe’s injury and the impact he had on the team this season at practice Monday.
“He was just solid and played good,” Fangio said. “He was where he was supposed to be with the right mindset, and he played physical. I don’t know this for sure, you guys probably do, but I think he had a career-high in sacks, which for a guy at this stage in his career speaks to his resiliency and the work that he’s put in and the effort that he was playing with.”
Wolfe was in the midst of a career year this season, including seven sacks. But, Wolfe is a free agent at the end of this season and his performance could result in a strong market for his services this offseason.
Despite the injury, Wolfe, 29, still has some prime years ahead of him and the Broncos should entertain the idea of re-signing the edge rusher.
When asked if he would like to see Wolfe back in the orange and blue next season, coach Fangio simply said, “Sure.”
Wolfe has been vocal for his love of Denver, and in a perfect world, he would like to be a Bronco for his entire career. That said, Wolfe took what many considered a discount in his last contract, and could be looking to maximize his value in this round of free agency.
Wolfe has been an anchor within the Broncos defense the last few years and has been a reliable player for Fangio in his first season running the helm.
If the Broncos are still set on trying to win with their current crop of players, retaining Wolfe is essential to their future success.
The Broncos blueprint for success is that of the Buffalo Bills. After enduring a few tough seasons, Buffalo is one of the best teams in the AFC this season with a record of 9-3. Backed by a tenacious defense and a steady offense led by Josh Allen, the Bills went from the cellar in the AFC to one of the top-3 teams in the conference in a year’s time.
Denver has a similar blueprint in place. Their defense ranks within the top-5 in most statistical categories this season, and they have a rookie quarterback in Drew Lock that is affordable.
While Wolfe’s future in Denver is unknown, his impact the last few seasons could dictate how the two sides handle the situation in the offseason.