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Are the Denver Broncos’ positioning themselves for a QB this offseason? – Denver Broncos Blog

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It’s been a little more than a week since the Denver Broncos traded their most-decorated, most-tenured, most-everything player — linebacker Von Miller — to the Los Angeles Rams.

Following the trade the Broncos had their best win in years: 30-16 over the Dallas Cowboys. It upped the Broncos’ record to 5-4 and has allowed them — as general manager George Paton put it after he dealt Miller — to “still get into the thick of it.”

Look, really look, at the Miller trade, the current depth chart, Paton’s steady acquisition of draft picks plus his philosophy, and it all has the Broncos positioned to take a swing at quarterback this offseason.

Asked last week if he made the Miller deal with the team’s future at quarterback in mind, Paton said: “We want flexibility … you don’t want your hands cuffed. We won’t. We’ll be aggressive and you know that.”

After consulting multiple executives around the league about the Broncos’ cap situation in relation to salary cap projections, the Broncos will likely be somewhere among the league’s top four in available space when the new football season begins in March. The Broncos already have 11 draft picks to use next April, with five of those likely in the top 100 after the two they received in exchange for Miller.

In short, they’ll have money to spend and double-digit draft picks. Oh, and one of the younger rosters in the league that still might sneak into the playoffs this season. They’ve said since training camp they are a team on the rise, and that seems to be playing out.

“Nobody is surrendering here,” is how Fangio put it just days before the Broncos romped in Dallas. “We talked to the team about that. We have confidence in the players that will step in for [Miller]. We have confidence in our team, and it still has the ability to improve a lot. That’s what we’re counting on. There’s no surrender.”

No matter how they finish this season, the Broncos face several decisions at quarterback. Current starter Teddy Bridgewater, who is on pace for career-bests in yards passing, completions, completion percentage and touchdowns, is in the last year of his deal and will be an unrestricted free agent.

That means 2022 will likely be the fifth consecutive season the Broncos open with a different starting quarterback than the year before. Fangio, Paton and Broncos players have been consistently aligned in support of Bridgewater this season, but Paton hasn’t said much about Bridgewater’s potential future with the Broncos beyond whatever the team can still make of this season.

When asked about the possibility of Drew Lock playing to aid his development — before Lock went to the COVID-19 reserve list this past week — Paton said simply:

“We feel like Teddy’s our quarterback, Teddy’s our leader and we feel like if we can play better around Teddy we’ll get good results.”

How many of those “good results” the team can get could certainly impact who they eventually pursue or who would eventually want to come to Denver, either via trade or free agency. By trading Miller, Paton has given the Broncos cap freedom and draft assets to pursue a QB.

“We have a lot of flexibility,” Paton said. “… We really can do whatever we want.”

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NFL Week 12 fantasy football inactives watch

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Who should you start? Who should you sit? To help you set your fantasy football lineups and to avoid starting a player who won’t be playing, we’ll post fantasy-relevant updates and analysis here as NFL teams release their official inactives lists, typically about 90 minutes before kickoff. Any rankings cited in this column come from our ESPN Fantasy staff ranks.

Official Sunday inactives should begin coming in approximately 90 minutes prior to the scheduled kickoff time, around 11:30 a.m. ET for the early games and 2:30 p.m. ET for the late games.

Refresh often for the latest information.


1 p.m. ET games

Offense

Cordarrelle Patterson, RB, ATL: Ankle — Questionable
Impact: He should be able to play but with Qadree Ollison feeling ill, Wayne Gallman could be forced into action if he can’t.

Auden Tate, WR, CIN: Thigh — Doubtful
Impact: He didn’t play last week either. Not a ton of fantasy impact here either way.

Nico Collins, WR, HOU: Hip — Questionable
Impact: Chris Conley and Danny Amendola could see some extra targets.

Damien Harris, RB, NE: Neck — Questionable
Impact: If he can play, his value likely hinges on the injury status of the rest of this backfield.

Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, NE: Knee — Questionable
Impact: Even if he plays, he still might cede some touches to Brandon Bolden or J.J. Taylor.

Jonnu Smith, TE, NE: Shoulder — Questionable
Impact: Practiced a little bit late in the week and may be ready to roll.

Hunter Henry, TE, NE: Neck — Questionable
Impact: If he finds the end zone, he’s got a chance to have some fantasy impact.

Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG: Ankle — Questionable
Impact: He’s expected to play, but his injury will continue to loom over him all season long.

Kadarius Toney, WR, NYG: Quad — Doubtful
Impact: No practice all week likely leads to Collin Johnson seeing increased snaps.

Sterling Shepard, WR, NYG: Quad — OUT
Impact: Kenny Golladay and Darius Slayton should see increased playing time.

John Ross, WR, NYG: Quad — Questionable
Impact: With so many injuries to this offense, any healthy bodies could get some targets.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, NYG: Ankle — Doubtful
Impact: Evan Engram will handle the team’s TE duties.

Kaden Smith, TE, NYG: Knee — OUT
Impact: Chris Myarick may get a chance to play.

Michael Carter, RB, NYJ: Ankle — OUT/IR
Impact: Say hello to the Ty Johnson/Tevin Coleman tag team.

Corey Davis, WR, NYJ: Groin — Doubtful
Impact: Late downgrade makes it very likely that Jamison Crowder and Keelan Cole will be seeing extra work.

Jordan Howard, RB, PHI: Knee — OUT
Impact: Leaves the door open for Kenneth Gainwell to work his way back ever so slightly into the RB mix.

Ray-Ray McCloud, WR, PIT: COVID-19 — Questionable
Impact: He had done well spelling Chase Claypool. Cody White may get a shot.

Eric Ebron, TE, PIT: Knee — OUT/IR
Impact: Pat Freiermuth moves into regular TE1 territory for fantasy teams.

Antonio Brown, WR, TB: Ankle — OUT
Impact: Scotty Miller could be activated from the IR and play.

Jeremy McNichols, RB, TEN: Concussion — OUT
Impact: Dontrell Hilliard and D’Onta Foreman to split work.

A.J. Brown, WR, TEN: Chest — OUT/IR
Impact: This leaves Dez Fitzpatrick, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Chester Rogers as the team’s WR options.

Geoff Swaim, TE, TEN: Concussion — Questionable
Impact: Looking optimistic for this weekend, which would send Anthony Firkser back to the fantasy bench.

Defense

Jonathan Bullard, DE, ATL: Ankle — OUT

Deion Jones, LB, ATL: Shoulder — Questionable

Jonathan Greenard, DE, HOU: Foot — Questionable

Darius Leonard, LB, IND: Ankle — Questionable

Shaquill Griffin, CB, JAX: Concussion — OUT

Brandon Jones, S, MIA: Elbow — Questionable

Dont’a Hightower, LB, NE: Ankle — Questionable

Ja’Whaun Bentley, LB, NE: Ribs — Questionable

Shaq Lawson, DE, NYJ: Wrist — Questionable

John Franklin-Myers, DE, NYJ: Hip — Questionable

Folorunso Fatukasi, DT, NYJ: Foot — Questionable

C.J. Mosley, LB, NYJ: Shoulder — Questionable

Joe Haden, CB, PIT: Foot — OUT

Vita Vea, DT, TB: Knee — Questionable

Devin White, LB, TB: Quad — Questionable

Rashaan Evans, LB, TEN: Ankle — OUT

David Long Jr., LB, TEN: Hamstring — OUT

Joe Jones, LB, TEN: COVID-19 — Questionable

Elijah Molden, CB, TEN: Groin — Questionable


4 p.m. ET games

Offense

Aaron Jones, RB, GB: Knee — Questionable
Impact: This may end up being a game-time call. It would be nice to have AJ Dillon as a fall-back option.

Allen Lazard, WR, GB: Shoulder — Questionable
Impact: Davante Adams is healthy. Marquez Valdes-Scantling will see extra looks.

Elijah Mitchell, RB, SF: Finger — Questionable
Impact: Jeff Wilson Jr. would start if Mitchell isn’t comfortable handling the ball.

JaMycal Hasty, RB, SF: Ankle — OUT
Impact: His injury hurts an already thin 49ers backfield.

Defense

Shelby Harris, DE, DEN: Ankle — Questionable

Kareem Jackson, S, DEN: Neck — Doubtful

Kevin King, CB, GB: Hip — Doubtful

Asante Samuel Jr., CB, LAC: Concussion — OUT

Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, MIN: COVID-19 — Questionable


Sunday night game

Kareem Hunt, RB, CLE: Calf — Questionable
Impact: The team has already said he’ll be active for the first time since Week 6.

Anthony Schwartz, WR, CLE: Concussion — OUT
Impact: Rashard Higgins will try and fill the void.

Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, CLE: Groin — Questionable
Impact: Jarvis Landry is also banged up, so the Browns may end up being very run-heavy.

Marquise Brown, WR, BAL: Thigh — Questionable
Impact: Limited in practice all week, but is expecting to be out there catching passes from Lamar Jackson.

Calais Campbell, DE, BAL: Concussion — Questionable

Anthony Averett, CB, BAL: Thigh — Questionable

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers considered Jonathan Taylor in 2020 draft, could have taken RB at No. 14 if Tristan Wirfs was unavailable

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One way or another, Jonathan Taylor was destined to play in Sunday’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers had Taylor on their short list of candidates that they were considering with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft.

One high-ranking Bucs official even said in recent weeks that had offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs been selected before their turn in the first round, Tampa Bay would have drafted Taylor at No. 14.

But Wirfs was available, and Tampa Bay traded up one slot from No. 14 to San Francisco’s turn at No. 13 and to draft the offensive tackle that has been a standout since joining the Bucs. But that selection didn’t diminish the way that Tampa Bay felt about Taylor, who enters Sunday’s showdown as the NFL leader in rushing yards (1,122) and touchdowns (15).

“I loved him,” Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians told reporters this past week about Taylor. “He could do it all, and it was just a matter of time — playing behind that offensive line — that he was going to be the force that he is.”

The Buccaneers nearly had Taylor slide to them in the second round at pick No. 45, but the Colts ultimately traded up from No. 44 to No. 41, where they drafted Taylor. Tampa Bay wound up drafting safety Antoine Winfield Jr., who has been a standout during his first two NFL seasons.

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Odell Beckham Jr. had interest in Packers before joining Rams; talks stalled by Green Bay veteran’s minimum offer, sources say

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The Los Angeles Rams and the Green Bay Packers were the two most appealing teams to Odell Beckham Jr. during the star wide receiver’s recent free agency.

Although he ended up joining the Rams, Beckham had a sincere interest in playing for the Packers, sources told ESPN.

Green Bay was one of the final two teams Beckham considered — along with the Rams — but one issue that bogged down any contract talks was that the Packers were only offering the veteran’s minimum plus incentives, according to sources.

The Packers were asked to increase their offer to Beckham on multiple occasions, according to sources. But when Green Bay declined, Beckham chose the Rams, which some sources thought to be his preferred destination all along.

“He wasn’t going to take the same, or less money, to go to Green Bay (over Los Angeles),” one source familiar with the contract talks told ESPN.

Many sources believed the Rams became the immediate favorite to land Beckham once they entered the discussions, about 48 hours before Beckham ultimately decided to sign with them.

But one source familiar with the situation said it would have been interesting if the Packers had been more aggressive financially. Now rather than preparing a game plan with him in their offense, the Packers will have to defend Beckham on Sunday when they host the Rams.

Rams coach Sean McVay expects Beckham to be “a lot more” involved in the offense Sunday, which will mark his second game with the team.

Beckham agreed to a one-year, $1.25 million contract with the Rams four days before he suited up and played 15 of 55 snaps in a Week 10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He caught 2 passes for 18 yards and was targeted on a third pass, but the deep throw from quarterback Matthew Stafford was intercepted as Beckham apparently broke off the route.

“Odell [is] just getting more familiar,” McVay said Friday. “I mean for him to be able to even play in the game against the Niners is an incredible credit to him.”

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