What Medical Concerns Should Be Actual Red Flags for Broncos?
When the Denver Broncos signed their three prized free agents in the spring of 2019, fans were ecstatic. The Broncos got themselves a good right tackle, when healthy, a good cornerback, when healthy, and a versatile defensive back, again, when healthy.
The on-field performance of this trio made them attractive free agents but the fly in the ointment was the relative medical red flags the Broncos had to reckon with.
It wasn’t just the fact that Kareem Jackson and Ja'Wuan James had played only two full seasons in the NFL, or that Bryce Callahan had yet to stay healthy for a full 16 games. This trio was oft-injured, but two of the big signings Denver made last year were far more concerning and risky because of the long-term implications of their respective injury histories.
For NFL teams, the bigger concern with injuries isn’t the number of times a player has been injured but rather, ascertaining whether an injury has caused long-term damage or could present future complications. Callahan's foot injury presented the likelihood of long-term complications and the same could be said of James with his knees.
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Jackson, despite the number of injuries he dealt with in Houston, didn’t present the same long-term concerns or risk over future complications.
As the Broncos target players in free agency and the draft this offseason, there will be a lot of talk about health and injuries players have sustained throughout their career — both at the college and NFL level. Just remember, there is a difference — a huge difference — between the number of injuries sustained and concerns over long-term complications.
The big issue comes by taking a risk on players with injuries that could come back to bite the Broncos. As we get closer to the draft, more information will come to light about prospects who may have such concerns, thanks to medical examinations that will occur specifically at the Combine and during private workouts.
In the game of football, it's difficult to find any player who's never been injured. However, on the heels of last year's free-agency class, the Broncos have to approach 2020 with the 'once-bitten/twice shy' mindset and avoid investing in players who bring with them the likely possibility of future health complications.
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