One of John Elway’s final personnel gambles was to give up a 2020 fourth-round draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for cornerback A.J Bouye last spring. Back in March when Elway brokered the deal, he was bullish on the veteran corner's skill-set.
"He's a complete cornerback who gives us what we need in both pass coverage and against the run" Elway said via a team statement.
After missing five games due to a shoulder injury in 2020, the 29-year-old Bouye may have fatally wounded his standing with the Orange and Blue by incurring a six-game performance-enhancing drug (PED) suspension. Much to Broncos Country’s chagrin, the high-profile trade for Bouye has flamed out spectacularly.
With the offseason rumor mill being in full swing, Broncos insider Mike Klis has only added to the recent buzz that Bouye’s stay in the Mile High City could be coming to a close. Here's what Klis reported on 9NEWS.
"Bouye missed five games with a shoulder injury, and was suspended the final four games for violating the league’s performance enhancement policy. He is not expected to return, as Bouye is one of several key defensive starters – Jurrell Casey and Von Miller are the others – who are on the wrong side of 30, are scheduled to make large, nonguaranteed salaries and are coming off major injuries."
Bouye's $11.9 million salary-cap hit for 2021 now falls under the purview of the Broncos' new GM George Paton. Bouye could be at the top of Paton's cap-casualty list.
Bouye served four of his six-game suspension, missing the final quarter of the season (after only appearing in seven contests), so the Broncos will have to factor in what remains on his PED suspension (two games) to start 2021. It all adds to the vulnerability of the Broncos' cornerback unit moving forward, especially with Bryce Callahan coming off another foot injury, and entering a contract year.
Paton is bound to approach the draft with major retooling at cornerback being a matter of urgent concern. Simply drafting for need doesn't sit easy with many of his old-school predecessors, but Paton will likely be unconcerned if Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley is still on the board when the Broncos turn in their No. 9 overall pick in April’s draft.