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Broncos free agency tracker: Denver bringing back more from 2023 roster, including WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey

Let the legal tampering commence.

The NFL’s free-agency bonanza begins in earnest at 10 a.m., when teams are allowed to begin negotiating with the agents of this year’s class of unrestricted free agents.

Deals can be agreed to, though nothing is signed, sealed and delivered until after the 2024 league year begins at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The Broncos have a long list of needs but also look a lot like a team in rebuilding mode. They’ve got around $29 million in cap space to operate with after a flurry of moves.

Here’s what Denver has already done leading into Monday:

• Informed QB Russell Wilson he’s to be released when the league year begins. He’s already agreed to a one-year deal with Pittsburgh.

• Released franchise cornerstone safety Justin Simmons

• Released TE Chris Manhertz

• Restructured WR Tim Patrick’s contract for 2024 to ensure his return

• Agreed to trade WR Jerry Jeudy to Cleveland for the Nos. 135 and 202 picks in next month’s draft

• Re-signed safety P.J. Locke (two years, up to $9 million) and OL Quinn Bailey (one year, $1.055 million non-guaranteed)

It’s been a busy week. Now the next phase begins. It’ll all be covered right here in The Post’s free agency tracker.

Let’s Ride. Wait… uh, let’s roll.


2:40 p.m.: The 2024 NFL league year has officially started, which means teams can formalize all the work they’ve done in recent days. The Broncos are in on the action, too, formally acknowledging their trade of receiver Jerry Jeudy to Cleveland for a pair of 2024 draft picks.

10:45 a.m.: The Broncos continue to do most of their work on modest deals to get players back from the 2023 roster. The latest is WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey, who is signing a one-year deal to continue playing for Sean Payton in 2024. His agents Jimmy and Dylan Gould confirmed the deal to The Post.

Humphrey appeared in all 17 games for Denver in 2023. He started off on the practice squad and went back-and-forth between there and the active over the year, but was active every game and caught 13 passes for 162 and 3 TDs. — Parker Gabriel 

9:45 a.m.: Denver’s had a relatively quiet start to free agency, making a pair of outside additions and retaining several of their own players.

There are still a few big-name prizes out on the market, but much of the work now will be about looking for value on lower-priced players. As the actual beginning of the league year approaches at 2 p.m. Wednesday, the Broncos can also watch out for any surprise cuts from around the league.

Quarterback, of course, remains a big, wide-open question. Sean Payton’s team has other needs to fill. And, of course, there’s the matter of officially releasing QB Russell Wilson at some point between this afternoon and March 17. — Parker Gabriel 

9:30 a.m.: The Broncos officially announced the signing of fullback Mike Burton, who is returning to Denver for a second season and in 2024 will play his 10th year in the NFL.


7 p.m.: The Broncos continued retaining a set of their own free agents by agreeing to a two-year deal with tight end Adam Trautman. He joins fullback Mike Burton, kicker Wil Lutz, safety P.J. Locke and offensive lineman Quinn Bailey among the players Denver has retained over the past few days.

Updated 3:08 p.m.: Another former Bronco has found a new home. The Carolina Panthers have agreed to a three-year, 22.75 million deal with inside linebacker Joey Jewell, a source told The Post. Jewell, a fourth-round pick in 2018, has spent six seasons in Denver, playing 78 games (58 starts). The former Iowa standout registered 236 tackles while playing alongside Alex Singleton over the last two seasons.

Inside linebacker has become a position of need for Denver. Even though the Broncos signed inside linebacker Jonas Griffith to a one-year extension last month, he missed the entire 2023 campaign due to a torn ACL. General manager George Paton also said at the scouting combine that rookie inside linebacker Drew Sanders is expected to transition to the edge.  — Ryan McFadden 

12:30 p.m.: Let’s bump the quarterback conversation back to the top as the wheel keeps turning.

As Day 1 of the negotiating period bled to Day 2, Minnesota landed its Kirk Cousins replacement and did it at Denver’s expense. The Vikings, according to NFL Network, agreed to terms on a one-year deal with Sam Darnold worth somewhere in the $10 million neighborhood.

Denver did its diligence on many of the available quarterbacks, but a source said the Broncos were in the mix for Darnold before he chose to play for Kevin O’Connell and the Vikings instead.

So now here are the quarterbacks that have agreed to play elsewhere:

Baker Mayfield: Tampa Bay

Kirk Cousins: Atlanta

Sam Darnold: Minnesota

Gardner Minshew: Las Vegas

Jacoby Brissett: New England

Tyrod Taylor: New York Jets

Marcus Mariota: Washington

Jameis Winston: Cleveland

Drew Lock: New York Giants

That leaves Denver with dwindling options as it looks for a possible bridge quarterback or at least competition for Jarrett Stidham. The list on the free agent market now includes Ryan Tannehill, Mason Rudolph and Carson Wentz, among others. It’s possible that the Raiders, after signing Minshew, will release Jimmy Garoppolo and he’d join the free agent ranks, too.

Or the Broncos could explore the trade market for somebody like Washington’s Sam Howell, the Jets’ Zach Wilson or Chicago’s Justin Fields. — Parker Gabriel

11:10 a.m.: Denver is signing another former New Orleans player to Sean Payton’s team, coming to a two-year agreement with defensive tackle Malcolm Roach, a source confirmed to The Post. The deal is worth up to $8 million.

Roach has been a back-up over his first four professional years, but has played in 41 games.

Denver needs reinforcements on its defensive front line after struggling to stop the run in 2023. Roach is known mostly for his work against the run.  Roach joins a rotation that currently features D.J. Jones, Zach Allen, Matt Henningsen and others. The Broncos also signed Rashard Lawrence, a fourth-round pick in 2020, to a futures contract earlier in the offseason. — Parker Gabriel 

10:10 a.m.: The Broncos on Tuesday re-signed fullback Michael Burton, a source confirmed to The Post. The veteran will be back for a second season in Denver and a 10th in the NFL after turning himself into a reliable contributor in 2023.

Burton, 32, appeared in all 17 games including three starts. He didn’t get the ball much — seven carries for nine yards and three catches for eight yards — but served as a blocker and a special teams regular. Overall he played 18% of Denver’s offensive snaps and 63% of the team’s special teams snaps. — Parker Gabriel 

6:30 a.m.: The Broncos are continuing to clear cap space, too. They converted the 2024 base salaries of LG Ben Powers and DL Zach Allen to bonus and tacked on two void years to each deal, clearing $20 million in additional cap space in the process, sources confirmed to The Post.

Allen’s 2024 cap charge drops from $19 million to $7.7 million and Powers’ number goes from $15.25 million to $6.65 million.

Denver already came out of Day 1 of free agency with around $25 million in projected cap space, according to OvertheCap data, so now its sitting on somewhere around $45 million once Wil Lutz’s cap number is accounted for. The Broncos have room to spend — could a non-QB splash be ahead? — but also could choose to tack on an extra $17.6 million of Russell Wilson’s dead cap to its 2024 ledger for a total of $53 million. That would leave $32 million charge on the 2025 books.

As always, it’s worth keeping in mind that converting salary to bonus alleviates cap charges in the present but doesn’t make them disappear. They just move to the future. — Parker Gabriel 


3:05 p.m.: A free agency twist. Kicker Wil Lutz is actually returning to the Broncos on a two-year deal, according to his agent, John Perla.

Lutz had a three-year deal with Jacksonville on the table but ultimately decided instead to return to Denver. That’s a good get for the Broncos after Lutz had a strong first year kicking for Sean Payton’s team.

The Broncos traded a 2024 seventh-round pick to New Orleans for Lutz in late August. Now they’ll have him as their kicker for more than just one season.

2:30 p.m.: The second wave of free agency quarterback deals is starting to percolate. Gardner Minshew is signing with Las Vegas on a two-year deal worth up to $25 million and including $15 million guaranteed, according to multiple reports including NFL Network.

Minshew will compete with Aidan O’Connell for the starting job there, though the Raiders, one spot behind Denver at No. 13 in April’s draft, could still look for a rookie, too.

Lutz made 30-of-34 field goal attempts in 2023, including 3-of-5 from 50-plus yards with a season long of 52 yards. — Parker Gabriel 

12:35 p.m.: The biggest remaining QB domino has fallen. Kirk Cousins is leaving Minnesota and signing a four-year deal in Atlanta, his agent, Mike McCartney, said on social media.

Now expect the next group to come off the board quickly. Will the Broncos try to land Sam Darnold? Gardner Minshew or Jacoby Brissett? They aren’t the only team shopping. The Vikings now need a starter, too.

The move also sets up a fascinating first-round draft scenario. The Broncos pick No. 12, between Minnesota and Las Vegas. Now Atlanta at No. 8 doesn’t need a quarterback, nor does Tennessee at No. 7 or No. 9 Chicago (assuming they take Caleb Williams No. 1).

So, that makes Nos. 7-9 a potential target area for any team that needs a quarterback, assuming a guy that team likes makes it beyond the top handful of picks. — Parker Gabriel 

12:25 p.m.: The Broncos are going to be back in the kicker market. NFL Network is reporting that Jacksonville is signing Wil Lutz to a three-year contract. Denver had conversations over recent weeks with Lutz about an extension, but the Jaguars apparently outbid the Broncos.

The Broncos, of course, traded a 2024 seventh-round for Lutz in late August after the club cut Brandon McManus over the summer. — Parker Gabriel 

12:16 p.m.: Former Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, who has tormented the Broncos throughout his career, is heading to the NFC. Jacobs is signing with the Green Bay Packers, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Jacobs recorded 769 rushing yards and nine touchdowns in eight career games against Denver. — Ryan McFadden 

11:45 a.m.: Denver is set to lose center Lloyd Cushenberry. He’s set to sign with Tennessee, according to multiple outlets.

The Broncos wanted to keep their center, who played his best football in 2023, but he put together the type of season that priced himself out of Denver. Instead, Sean Payton and offensive line coach Zach Strief could look for a cheaper, veteran option. Perhaps more likely, though, is that the Broncos rely on third-year man Luke Wattenberg and second-year man Alex Forsyth to compete for the job. The team feels good about its offensive line depth, particularly on the interior. –– Parker Gabriel 

11:12 a.m.: The Broncos are on the board. They’re signing safety Brandon Jones to a three-year deal, sources confirmed to The Post.

Jones spent the first four years of his career in Miami, where he was a third-round draft pick in the 2020 NFL draft. He started six games in 2023 and appeared in 16 for the Dolphins, finishing with 48 tackles, two interceptions and four passes defensed. Jones, 25, is listed at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds.

The deal comes with $12.5 million in guarantees and a base value of $20 million with a maximum value of up to $22.5 million, a source told The Post. — Parker Gabriel 

10:15 a.m.: Off and running on NFL free agency. One deal that doesn’t impact Denver today but most certainly will over the next year is Philadelphia left guard Landon Dickerson getting $21 million per year. Enormous money in a spring where the market for guards is expected to take off.

Quinn Meinerz, entering the final year of his rookie deal, has to be licking his chops. Or perhaps he’s just looking at Saturn through his telescope and listening to chill synth. — Parker Gabriel 

8:48 a.m.: One of the most interesting situations to watch for the Broncos is, of course, the quarterback position. Denver at this point isn’t likely to shell out big bucks — Baker Mayfield is headed back to Tampa Bay on an extension and early reporting is Kirk Cousins’ negotiating priorities are Atlanta and perhaps continued talks with Minnesota.

But that doesn’t mean Denver can sit on its hands, either. Remember, a year ago it agreed to terms with Jarrett Stidham as the backup to Wilson on the first day of free agency. You don’t want to bid against yourself and go overboard, but when it comes to quarterbacks, you’re also not going to sit around too long and watch other teams sign the guy or guys you might be interested in. So, will Sean Payton, George Paton and company move quickly on somebody like San Francisco’s Sam Darnold? Or Jacoby Brissett? Or perhaps Mason Rudolph now that Wilson is headed to Pittsburgh? Or will they instead try to nab somebody like Washington’s Sam Howell in a trade?

A couple other key questions to watch: How much money is Lloyd Cushenberry going to get? Probably a lot. We know the Broncos would like to have him back, but he may have played his way out of Denver and above $10 million per season. Denver’s working to re-sign kicker Wil Lutz, sources have said, and could also look to re-unite with TE Adam Trautman, FB Mike Burton, DL Mike Purcell or perhaps others from the list of 16 outgoing free agents. — Parker Gabriel 

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