The Denver Broncos are releasing veteran cornerback A.J. Bouye according to 9NEWS' Mike Klis. In his eighth NFL season but first (and only) in Denver, Bouye appeared in just seven games logging 23 tackles (21 solo), and six passes defended.
The former Pro Bowler missed multiple games with a shoulder injury, a concussion, and the final quarter of the season due to a PED suspension.
The Broncos acquired Bouye via trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars last spring in exchange for Denver’s 2020 fourth-round pick which was originally acquired via the Emmanuel Sanders trade with the San Francisco 49ers. The 6-foot, 191-pound cornerback entered the league as a college free agent with the Houston Texans in 2013.
Bouye signed a big free-agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017 where he would go on that same year to earn his one and only Pro Bowl berth. Prior to the 2020 season, he played in 93 NFL games recording 315 total tackles, 66 passes defended, one sack, one forced fumble, 14 interceptions, and scored one defensive touchdown.
Bouye was projected to be a no-brainer fit for head coach Vic Fangio’s zone-coverage defense, but his lack of availability left the team with lackluster feelings towards the veteran corner. When the NFL suddenly handed down Bouye's six-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, it meant he had to spend the final four games of the season on his couch.
This meant the Broncos entered the offseason knowing that if Bouye was to be retained, he'd still have two games of suspension left to be served in the fall.
The release of Bouye saves Denver $11,689,338 in salary cap space, as the 29-year-old only had one year remaining on his contract without any guaranteed money owed. The release adds to the theory that Denver will go after multiple corners in free agency, maybe even a perennial Pro Bowler like Patrick Peterson. Or, new GM George Paton could look to the draft where the No. 9 overall pick might be able to land the Broncos a corner like Alabama's Patrick Surtain II or Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley.
This might not be the last veteran salary-cap casualty for the Broncos this offseason. Now that the first domino with Bouye has fallen, it could lead to other cap casualties like defensive lineman Jurrell Casey and maybe even star rush linebacker Von Miller.
If the Broncos hope to re-sign free-agent safety Justin Simmons to a long-term deal, to say nothing of defensive lineman Shelby Harris, Paton will likely have to free up additional cap dollars especially with the salary cap expected to drop as a result of the revenue losses caused by the pandemic last year.