In constructing a roster every offseason, good NFL teams follow a simple model: free agency is for addressing holes and the NFL Draft is about obtaining the best talent that fits your team’s scheme and culture. This mantra is often better in theory than in reality, but not if you ask Denver Broncos’ GM George Paton.
After declining veteran safety Kareem Jackson’s 2021 contract option at the start of Free Agency, creating $10 million in cap space for the 2021 offseason, the Denver Broncos have reportedly worked out a deal to bring Jackson back to Denver for the 2021 season according to Ian Rapoport.
"Source: The Broncos have a deal to bring back Kareem Jackson," Rapoport tweeted on Tuesday.
"Kareem Jackson gets one-year, $5 million, per source. Which ain’t bad in brutal second wave market. Was supposed to make $10 million in final year of three-year deal. Look at it this way: Jackson got three-year, $28 million all in. Pretty good for safety about to turn 33," 9NEWS' Mike Klis tweeted.
Paton bringing back Jackson, along with re-signing star safety Justin Simmons to a long-term extension and signing free-agent cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller put Denver in a favorable spot. The Broncos’ secondary, which was once an extreme weakness heading into this offseason, now looks like it could compete for one of the best units in the entire NFL.
The No Fly Zone 2.0? Perhaps not worthy of that title just yet, but in the high-flying pass centric AFC West, Paton’s pursuit in improving the secondary cannot be overstated.
With literally no fatal roster holes on the current roster after fortifying the safety position, Paton and the Broncos can now go into the 2021 NFL draft with a completely holistic point of view. Does Paton stand back at pick No. 9 overall and take a prospect like Florida tight end Kyle Pitts or Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell, if they fall?
Or do the Broncos trade back and select an offensive tackle, edge rusher, or cornerback and plug future holes at a few of the most valuable and sought-after positions in the NFL and accumulate more capital?
Perhaps a trade-up for a quarterback like North Dakota State’s Trey Lance or Ohio State’s Justin Fields could be on the table. Paton and the Broncos can literally do anything and that flexibility gives the team the best chance to make the best long-term decision for the organization.
With Jackson back, head coach Vic Fangio has now been empowered with the best personnel he has had since his days as the defensive coordinator with the Chicago Bears. As long as the unit does not suffer the same injury-riddled fate of the 2020 Broncos, this team’s floor should be nine wins.
With retaining Jackson this Denver defense is now solidified. Just how far can this team go? In the year 2021, that answer will come down to the quality of the quarterback.
Follow Nick on Twitter @NickKendellMHH.
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