In just a couple of days' time, the Denver Broncos went from full strength at inside linebacker to near-decimation. Starting linebacker Todd Davis suffered a calf injury late last week that'll cost him a few weeks, while exciting rookie Justin Strnad injured his wrist on Sunday and will miss the entire season.
The Broncos have tried to roll with the punches, promoting Josey Jewell up to run the first-team defense in Davis' place alongside Alexander Johnson, while switching Justin Hollins from the edge to off-ball linebacker. The team's last experiment with moving Hollins from edge to off-ball didn't go well.
The Broncos also have Joe Jones, a special teams maven, and Josh Watson to round out the depth. However, instead of banking completely on the inexperience behind Jewell and Johnson, the Broncos are looking for off-roster options.
One such option is Mark Barron, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers, among several other teams. The Broncos will meet with Brarron, as KUSA's Mike Klis reported on Thursday.
"Broncos scheduled to visit w/veteran LB Mark Barron per multiple sources. 2012 first-round pick was SS early in his career with TB but now listed at 6-2, 230. Also played for LAR/PIT. He would be ILB who can play in space if he signs. He must first clear COVID testing," Klis tweeted.
Barron played college ball at Alabama, so if the Broncos sign him, he'll fit in with other Crimson Tide alums like Kareem Jackson and Jerry Jeudy. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Barron as a safety in the first round back in 2012.
Despite some promise, Barron's NFL career did not pan out perfectly. In his third season, the Bucs unceremoniously traded him to the then-St. Louis Rams, coached by Jeff Fisher.
By this point, Barron had mostly remained a strong safety while playing a little dime-backer but it was in St. Louis when he was converted from safety to linebacker officially. 2015 marked Barron's first full season as an inside linebacker and he totaled 116 tackles (79 solo) in 12 starts.
Barron survived the regime change that saw Fisher get fired and Sean McVay take over in 2017. But following the 2018 season, the Rams released Barron.
The veteran would sign on with the Pittsburgh Steelers, starting nine games at inside linebacker and totaling 82 tackles (58 solo). All-in, Barron has nine career interceptions and has experience in coverage.
Although he's not as good in coverage as you might expect from a former safety, Barron might be better than the Broncos' current depth (the healthy ones) at training camp. At 30 years old, there's a good chance he's got another couple of seasons of at least solid ball under his belt.
Barron will have to pass his two-stage COVID-19 test, just like Demar Dotson did a couple weeks back. But it looks like the Broncos are going to sign the ninth-year vet. Stay tuned.
The Broncos are taking Thursday off of practice in solidarity with the NBA's protest against social injustice.