It seems like that Super Bowl 50 victory happened a while ago for Denver Broncos fans. Since they won the big game, they haven’t had much success. They are heading into an offseason where tough decisions have to be made, according to new general manager George Paton.
It looks like Denver is already starting to make those tough choices pertaining to their roster. After a season riddled with injuries and ended in suspension, the team will be saving a lot of money by getting rid of their star player after one season.
Broncos cornerback A.J. Bouye had a difficult season
The Denver Broncos made a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars last offseason, sending a fourth-round pick to get A.J. Bouye. Being a 2019 second-team All-Pro selection, the hope was that Bouye would provide a veteran presence for a young Bronco secondary. Bouye’s 2020 season didn’t go as expected at all, as he didn’t even get to finish his first season with Denver.
Bouye had multiple injuries this season, forcing him to miss considerable time. He didn’t finish two games this season because of injury and missed another game because of a concussion. Bouye also missed four games as a result of a shoulder injury. In Week 12, he was suspended for the final four games of the year for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
“I was disappointed for him. Players have to make really, really good judgments with the people they trust with their career and with their finances. Obviously, something went wrong with this person he dealt with and trusted. It’s a disappointing situation for everybody,” said head coach Vic Fangio at the time he learned of Bouye’s suspension, per ESPN.
The suspension is for six games, which means Bouye would have to sit out the first two games of the 2021 season. He finished the season with 23 total tackles and six passes defended. It was a bad season for him, as he had great expectations coming in.
The Denver Broncos release A.J. Bouye
NFL teams are going to have a tighter budget this offseason in terms of the salary cap. Because of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact, the league salary cap is projected to be around $180-181 million, according to Adam Schefter. The Denver Broncos have little room to maneuver, so decisions had to be made. The team has decided to release A.J. Bouye.
Letting Bouye go is a major positive for the Broncos. They are able to save $11.7 million toward their cap, per ESPN. These new savings give the team around $33 million to spend come free agency. Sometimes, it takes a sacrifice to make progress, and that is exactly what Denver did. Although Bouye’s track record is good, his one year in Denver made the team feel like he wasn’t worth it.
Even though he only played in seven games this season, Bouye still made a good amount of money. According to AP News, he made $10.3 million, factoring in roster bonuses. He was scheduled to make approximately $12 million next year. That kind of money going toward a suspended player who has been injury-prone doesn’t seem like it’s worth it.
Denver releasing A.J. Bouye is the first in what could be a massive overhaul for the defense. More players could be on the move, as the Broncos are trying to rebuild their roster.
Decision time in Denver
It seems like this offseason is a big offseason for every NFL team, and it is partially true given the shrinking salary cap. However, it is no hyperbole when it comes to the Denver Broncos. They have a bunch of decisions to make on key players. Starting on defense, they need to address the cornerback position, especially after Bouye’s release.
Injuries decimated the cornerback position, as four of them ended the season on injured reserve. Bryce Callahan is their best corner, but they need to add another capable one. Before they can look at signing players, they must decide if they want two important defensive pieces to return. Von Miller and Kareem Jackson both have team options that haven’t been exercised yet.
Miller had a down year last year, recording 46 total tackles and eight sacks. He is also under criminal investigation, though the reason why hasn’t been made public. The overhead of this investigation gives the Broncos a perfect excuse not to pick up his option. Jackson was a leader on the Broncos defense, having 90 tackles on the year. He’s played well, but Denver could still let him walk, wanting a fresh start.
The Denver Broncos releasing A.J. Bouye is the first of what could be many moves they make this offseason. Being in the AFC West, the Broncos know they have to get competitive fast. The money they saved by releasing Bouye can go toward grabbing an impact player on either side of the ball.