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Broncos' OLB Malik Reed Admits he Garnered 'Interest, No Doubt' on NFL Free-Agent Market

Malik Reed might have been more of a hot commodity on the free-agent market than we may have thought at first glance.

Former undrafted free agents like Denver Broncos' rush linebacker Malik Reed face longer odds to make it in the NFL. In order to make a 53-man roster, cultivating a deep underdog mentality is a requisite. 

Always feeling like you're being pushed out the door is nothing new for Reed, but that pressure provides a unique kind of motivation. That back-up-against-the-wall mindset was only heightened for Reed when the Broncos spent big money to sign former Dallas Cowboys star pass rusher Randy Gregory, and then opted to add spend a second-round pick on Oklahoma pass rusher Nik Bonitto in the draft. 

Just for good measure, you can throw the Broncos' purported flirtation with converting linebacker Baron Browning into an edge rusher. Clearly, the challenge Reed faces now is considerable.

Having the ability to overcome the obstacles that lie ahead is something Reed is now accustomed to as he heads into Year 4. Understanding that his position is going to be one where the team is constantly looking for upgrades is the nature of the beast, so the proving ground is never-ending. 

“I feel like it’s a position they prioritize to really be a force out there on the field,” Reed said on Thursday following OTA practice. “That’s what you want. You can’t have enough guys that can rush the passer and enough guys that can set the edge. It’s good to have a lot of guys that are out there, and competition brings the best out of everybody. I’m excited for it.”

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Reed has a thirst for competition and a desire to make improvements to his game. To a large extent, the 25-year-old feels that what he has learned up to this point positions him well for the challenges to come.

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“Each year, I’ve gotten better as a player. From Year 1 to Year 2, I feel like coverage was better for me, and even rushing the passer and getting after the passer,” Reed explained. “Last year, all facets of my game were better—taking on the run, dropping in coverage, understanding where I fit in coverage, knowing what people are doing around me. I feel like that helps slow the game down where you’re able to play faster and there is not as much thinking.”

Having tallied five sacks, three tackles for a loss, and two forced fumbles in 14 games last season, there was still a point this offseason where it looked like Reed could depart Denver as a restricted free agent. Although he kept a tight lid on it, the NFL did court the Broncos' second-leading rusher from 2021. 

“There was interest, no doubt," Reed said of his free-agent plunge. "I was keeping it really close knit. It was a conversation between me, my agent, and my family.”

While the edge rusher did receive interest from other teams, his fondness for the city, and desire to play for a winning organization, convinced him to sign his one-year $2.4 million original-round tender the Broncos had tabled.

“I enjoy Denver," Reed said. "I’ve built relationships here, and I love the trajectory of everything that’s going on. I want to be a part of a winning team and winning organization. That’s why.”

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