INDIANAPOLIS — As the Denver Broncos prepare themselves to make major changes at quarterback, John Elway said the team’s plan is to keep its top two receivers for any new quarterbacks to throw to.
The Broncos’ president of football operations/general manager said at the scouting combine Wednesday that “the plan” was to keep both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders on the roster. With the Broncos expected to make some salary-cap room with the release of a notable veteran player or two in the coming weeks, there had been some speculation Thomas and Sanders could be among the players let go.
“The plan is to have them back,” Elway said.
Asked if that meant the Broncos would pay a $4 million option bonus to Thomas in the coming weeks that would keep the final two years of his deal (2018 and 2019) in place, Elway said: “That is the plan, yes.”
Elway was critical of the team’s quarterback play last season when the Broncos used three different starters and threw the second-most interceptions in the league (22), and he didn’t absolve the top two receivers from that, either.
Elway said both players must be better in the coming season.
“We want to have them come back and play the way they’re capable of,” Elway said. “They still have a lot of football and still (are) a top receiving pair in the league, so we have got high expectations, but they’ve got to come back and play a lot better.”
Thomas led the Broncos with 83 receptions for 949 yards — his first season with fewer than 1,000 yards receiving since 2011 — while Sanders finished with 47 catches and 555 yards in an injury-marred season. Sanders, who missed four games with an ankle injury, did not have a touchdown reception after Week 2.
Thomas currently has the second-highest salary-cap charge on the team for 2018 at $12.033 million, while Sanders is fourth at $10.938 million.
The return of the two receivers, however, could help the Broncos lure a free-agent quarterback. Because of the league’s tampering rules, team officials cannot openly comment on their desire to sign prospective free agents until the start of the new league year on March 14.
“Anybody that’s not under contract right now or won’t be under contract,” Elway said.
Asked if that included every quarterback who would be on the market, Elway said, “Yes.”
Then asked if he believed the Broncos had enough salary-cap room — expected to be about $27 million with another $10 million or so rolled over from last season — to handle any scenario with quarterbacks in free agency, Elway quickly said, “Yeah.”
Sources — Lions to hire ex-Chargers coach Anthony Lynn as offensive coordinator
Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell knew he wanted to get some experience around him on his coaching staff and on Saturday he did that, hiring former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn as the team’s offensive coordinator, sources told ESPN’s Dan Graziano.
The 52-year-old Lynn had been with the Chargers from 2017-20 with a record of 33-31. Before that, he was the offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills for one season, in 2016.
He and Campbell have familiarity with each other, too. Lynn was the running backs coach in Dallas in 2005 when Campbell was a tight end with the team.
“What’s more important than anything to me as far as an offensive coordinator is someone that I believe has the vision of the offense kind of the way I do,” Campbell said Thursday. “Just in regard to, ‘Listen, I’m not going to get hung up on what you want to call the terminology. I’m not going to get hung up on the style of system that you want to put in.’
“I’m more into, ‘Man, show me what are the nuts and bolts that you believe in.’ ” One thing Campbell stressed in his introductory press conference is making sure whoever his coordinators are – the team officially announced Aaron Glenn as the defensive coordinator Saturday – can identify and exploit matchup mismatches.
In Buffalo in 2016, Lynn had the best rushing offense in the NFL, averaging 164.4 yards a game and 5.35 yards per carry with LeSean McCoy as his main back. Lynn has also shown a willingness to throw. His Chargers team this past season was sixth in the league in passing yards per game (270.6) with a rookie quarterback, Justin Herbert, behind center the majority of the season and had the No. 6 passing offense in 2019 (276.6 yards per game).
Lynn will likely be working with a new quarterback in 2021, too, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Matthew Stafford has requested a trade from Detroit — the only place he’s played in his career after being drafted No. 1 overall in 2009.
Detroit Lions to actively seek trade for QB Matthew Stafford, sources say
In an arrangement the two sides have discussed and mutually agreed upon, quarterback Matthew Stafford is expected to not return to the Lions this offseason, with Detroit listening to trade offers for its former No. 1 overall pick starting this week, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday.
With new general manager Brad Holmes and new head coach Dan Campbell now in place, the Lions will soon begin trade discussions that most likely will result in a new quarterback — largely influenced by what and who the Lions will receive in a trade for Stafford, sources told ESPN.
The Lions are expected to receive at least a first-round pick, league sources said.
Green Bay Packers activate Tramon Williams, who could become first to play for two NFL teams in a postseason
Williams, who was acquired by the Packers and put on their practice squad after he was waived by the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, could become the first player in NFL history to play for two different teams in the same postseason.
The 37-year-old Williams had three tackles in the Ravens’ 17-3 AFC divisional playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills last week.
Williams previously played for the Packers from 2007-14 and 2018-19, and he played a key role in the team’s run to Super Bowl 45 with interceptions in playoff games vs. Philadelphia and Atlanta.
“It’s special,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of the team’s decision to sign Williams this week. “He’s one of those teammates you just love playing with over the years. He’s such a professional. The way he takes care of himself, he looks amazing. He looks like he could go out and play 70 plays for us. I’m not sure if he’s going to or not, I hope he does, because he’s still so talented. But he’s one of those special guys, special personalities.”
“… You think about the 2010 run — he ended a game in Philly; (he) basically gave us a huge jolt in the divisional round (against Atlanta) with his pick-6. Still one of my favorite moments in all the moments in that, is watching him pick that ball off and run down the sidelines with Nick Collins to put us up 14 going into half. So, it’s fun. I wish we did this every year.”
Green Bay may need some extra depth in the secondary due to the uncertain status of starting cornerback Kevin King, who didn’t practice Friday because of a back injury and is listed as questionable.
The Packers also elevated defensive lineman Brian Price and cornerback KeiVarae Russell from the practice squad to the active roster for game day. In other moves, they signed punter Ryan Winslow to the practice squad and released running back Dexter Williams from the practice squad.
ESPN’s Rob Demovsky and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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