What we learned from Days 3 and 4 of Broncos free agency

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) runs the ball as Tennessee Titans defensive end Jurrell Casey (99) defends during the fourth quarter at TIAA Bank Field.
Sep 19, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) runs the ball as Tennessee Titans defensive end Jurrell Casey (99) defends during the fourth quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Broncos have been much quieter the last two days than they were the first two, but they’ve still made some aggressive moves that will help shape the roster in 2020 and beyond on both sides of the ball.

Let’s take a quick look at some of their more notable moves over the past 48 hours.

Elway fortifies defensive line with Casey, Purcell

After trading for A.J. Bouye and signing Graham Glasgow to address the needs at cornerback and along the offensive line respectively, the defensive line became arguably their most pressing need.

That is no longer the case after Wednesday, when John Elway traded for Jurrell Casey and tendered Mike Purcell. The trade for Casey was a complete swindling by the Broncos, as they only had to sacrifice a seventh-round pick, but you can read more about that here.

Unlike the trade for Casey, Denver was expected to tender Purcell, but it looked like that might not happen once the Broncos handed out a boatload of tenders earlier in the week, and Purcell wasn’t among them. Despite the delay though, the Broncos got the deal done, and last year’s surprising run-stuffing behemoth will be making his return in 2020.

As of now, that makes the Broncos’ starting defensive line Jurrell Casey and Dre’Mont Jones at defensive end, with Mike Purcell at nose tackle. That’s a pretty strong group, especially if Jones can take a leap in his sophomore NFL season, after a rookie year that saw him earn the league’s seventh-highest pass-rushing productivity score from Pro Football Focus, among defensive linemen who rushed the passer at least 190 times last season.

CHJ headed to LA, De’Vante Bausby back to Denver

It was long expected, but now it’s official, Chris Harris Jr.’s time with the Broncos is over.

The veteran cornerback agreed to a deal with the Chargers on Tuesday that will pay him $20.25 million over the next two seasons.

Harris was expected to sign for well over $10 million a season, but might have taken a discount because he liked the fit so much and it allowed him a chance at revenge twice a season. It was reported by Benjamin Allbright that Harris turned down offers from the Raiders, Saints, Jets, Eagles and Texans to sign with the Bolts.

The move makes Los Angeles’ secondary one of the more talented groups in the league, with Casey Heyward, Desmond King, and Chris Harris Jr. at cornerback, and Derwin James and Nassir Adderly at safety.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have come to terms with backup cornerback De’Vante Bausby on a one-year deal. After Bryce Callahan was recovering from his foot injury and Isaac Yiadom continued to disappoint, Bausby was the best of the cornerbacks Denver brought on in relief.

Jeff Driskel to back up Drew Lock, Flacco released

The Broncos have decided to move on from both Joe Flacco and Brandon Allen, and now, Jeff Driskel will take over as Drew Lock’s backup.

Moving on from Flacco was an inevitability, considering how poorly he played last season and that cutting the veteran frees up just over $10 million in cap space. That will cover the cost of their rookie class and then some.

Letting Allen sign elsewhere was a tougher decision, considering the Broncos traded for him and he looked like a solid backup in his limited playing time, but it was the best move considering the scheme change.

Whether or not Driskel can be an upgrade on Allen is yet to be seen but he was a competent backup on overmatched Lions and Bengals rosters in 2018 and 2019 respectively and flashed exciting athleticism while doing so.

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