Broncos Suspended DL Eyioma Uwazurike Facing Potential Setback in NFL Reinstatement

Eyioma Uwazurike's reinstatement from his NFL gambling suspension could be facing a new obstacle.
Aug 10, 2022; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos defensive lineman Eyioma Uwazurike (96) during training camp at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 10, 2022; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos defensive lineman Eyioma Uwazurike (96) during training camp at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos have been hopeful that 2022 fourth-round defensive lineman Eyioma Uwazurike will get reinstated by the NFL after missing all of the 2024 campaign due to a gambling suspension. However, according to 9NEWS' Mike Klis, Uwazurike could be facing a setback, which could put his Broncos and NFL career at further risk.

According to Klis, Uwazurike the Colorado Department of Revenue and Arapahoe County prosecutors are reviewing his case to "determine whether any state gambling laws were violated." If the state deems that laws were broken, Uwazurike could face criminal charges.

That would preclude the NFL from reinstating Uwazurike.

"Sources also said the NFL is waiting until state and local authorities conclude their review before determining whether to reinstate Uwazurike. This could happen when he is eligible to apply for reinstatement on July 24, or the day after Broncos veteran players report to training camp.

"While players are often reinstated by the league the same day they apply, it’s important to note each case is different. In Uwazurike’s case, he is accused of placing 32 bets on five Broncos games, including one in which he played, according to a criminal complaint filed last year by the Story County (Iowa) Attorney's Office," Klis reported.

Defendant former Iowa State defensive line Eyioma Uwazurike in court at Story County Courthouse on Friday, Oct. 20, 2023.
Defendant former Iowa State defensive line Eyioma Uwazurike listens during the motion to dismiss hearing at Story County Courthouse on Friday, Oct. 20, 2023, in Nevada, Iowa. / Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune / USA

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Uwazurike wasn't just busted betting on NFL games. He allegedly bet on five Broncos games.

The one-year suspension is justified, but a potential criminal case could hinge on whether the state of Colorado can legally admit evidence from an Iowa State investigation into Uwazurike and other fellow Cyclone teammates that was deemed inadmissible previously due to wrongful means.

"In another twist, the initial gambling allegations against Uwazurike and other Iowa State athletes were suppressed and dismissed because it was determined the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation wrongfully used a geolocation software to collect information on their locations. Attorneys for the plaintiffs, including Uwazurike, successfully argued that using the geolocation software was a violation of their constitutional rights," Klis reported.

The Broncos could use a little help on the defensive line, and while Uwazurike could offer that, he might be too radioactive for the team. Even if the state of Colorado doesn't pursue charges, the gambling allegations and suspension will be a storyline that follows him throughout his NFL career, and the Broncos would always have to wonder whether he's betting on games and risk the drama of his suspension and track record becoming a locker room distraction.

If we were talking about the second coming of Aaron Donald, perhaps those are risks a team like the Broncos would easily be willing to make. But Uwazurike is not that, although he is talented.

As a 2022 fourth-round pick, Uwazurike appeared in eight games his rookie year. He totaled 17 tackles (11 solo), two quarterback hits, and a tipped pass.

The Broncos worked to upgrade the defensive line this year, signing Malcolm Roach and acquiring John Franklin-Myers via trade. Combined with incumbents Zach Allen and D.J. Jones, as well as role players like Matt Henningsen and Elijah Garcia, the Broncos now have a solid rotation upfront and don't necessarily need Uwazurike.

The other question, even if the NFL reinstates Uwazurike at some point in the near future (and perhaps as soon as July 23 or 24), is whether he's managed to stay in football shape during his year-plus away from the game. He was 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds when last he donned the Orange and Blue.

For a young player trying to make his way in the NFL, missing a season for any reason can be career-threatening. Of course, that usually comes by way of the injury bug. In Uwazurike's case, he can't blame bad luck or a twist of fate for his time missed. Only himself.

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Chad Jensen


Chad Jensen is the Founder of Mile High Huddle and creator of the wildly popular Mile High Huddle Podcast. Chad has been on the Denver Broncos beat since 2012 and is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.