In an unexpected move, the Denver Broncos have decided to part ways with veteran outside linebacker Randy Gregory.
However, contrary to initial reports, Gregory has not been released just yet.
Instead, the Broncos intend to retain him for a brief period, allowing the possibility for another team to make a trade offer for his services.
Broncos expected better performance from Gregory
The decision to move on from Gregory comes on the heels of a challenging start to the season for the Broncos’ defense, prompting a mid-season shakeup.
Broncos head coach Sean Payton shed light on the situation, emphasizing that it was a carefully considered decision made in the best interest of the team.
“It was something that we felt was just best for our team right now, timing-wise. It hasn’t been finalized yet because, typically, before a transaction takes place, there may be some teams interested in a trade. If any of that came to fruition, we would let you guys know,”Payton said.
Gregory, who signed a substantial five-year, $70 million contract with the Broncos in March 2022, faced adversity during his tenure in Denver.
Injuries and a one-game suspension due to a post-match altercation limited him to just six games last season.
In the four games of the 2023 season, Gregory has managed to secure one sack and record nine tackles, struggling to replicate his previous form.
Over his ten games with the Broncos, the 30-year-old accumulated only three sacks and 21 tackles.
Recent weeks saw Gregory’s playing time reduced, culminating in his removal from the starting lineup during the Broncos’Week 4 victory over Chicago.
A second-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2015, Gregory experienced a tumultuous start to his NFL career, marked by injuries.
However, he rebounded impressively, notching 15.5 sacks over his final three seasons in Dallas.
Gregory came close to re-signing with the Cowboys in 2022 before a contract dispute led him to choose Denver.
NFL Network InsiderTom Pelissero reported that the Broncos had actively attempted to trade Gregory this week without success.
Broncos focused on young players
Gregory’s departure will create opportunities for emerging players in the Broncos’ defense, such as Nik Bonitto (3.5 sacks) and Jonathan Cooper (3.0 sacks).
Sean Payton acknowledged that the contributions of these young pass rushers played a significant role in the decision to part ways with Gregory. He stated,“This was something we made and decided. You spend a lot of time on decisions like this,”
“We felt that it was best for our team…We just felt like these other guys were playing better. It happens in this league. We want the best players possible. There was a combination of things. Those other guys stepped up, and we felt like they’re playing better,” Payton continued.
The Broncos are now faced with the task of finding a trade partner for Gregory.
If a trade is executed, the new team would inherit the remaining $10.9 million of his 2024 salary, along with the next three seasons on his contract, each valued at $14 million. None of this money is guaranteed, resembling club options for each year.
To facilitate a trade, the Broncos may need to consider retaining a portion of Gregory’s 2024 salary. This adjustment could make him a more attractive option for potential suitors.
However, if no trade agreement is reached, the Broncos will bear the full financial burden of Gregory’s 2023 salary, which is fully guaranteed.
With the Broncos currently holding a 1-3 record and residing at the bottom of the AFC, further changes to their roster may be on the horizon if the team struggles to turn their season around.
Key veterans, including wide receivers, and safety Justin Simmons, could become potential trade candidates in the pursuit of reinvigorating the franchise.