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Here's why the Broncos would be interested in trading T.J. Ward

Zac Stevens Avatar
August 29, 2017

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Could the best secondary in the NFL, the Denver Broncos’ “No Fly Zone”, have played their last game as a unit?

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Broncos have “received calls and had trade conversations” regarding Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward.

The news first broke during the Broncos final practice of the week leading up to their final preseason game Thursday night against the Arizona Cardinals. After practice, head coach Vance Joseph addressed the media for the first time regarding the news.

“I haven’t heard that about T.J. [being on the trade block]. I’ve been on the practice field,” he said. “He’s one of our better players, so I would be surprised if he was. But I have not heard that.”

Minutes after practice ended, ProFootballTalk reported that the Broncos “are actually making — not receiving — calls about a trade.”

Although Ward is a three-time Pro Bowler and a key part to the league’s best secondary, there are reasons why Denver would be open to trading him.

At 30-years old, entering the final year of his four-year, $22.5 million contract, it’s uncertain how interested the Broncos would be in resigning Ward after the season. The team already has $25 million in average salary on the books through 2019 between fellow secondary members Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr. and Darian Stewart.

If Denver believes they will move on from Ward after the season, it makes sense to trade him now to get value before losing him for nothing in the offseason.

Ward’s modest $4.5 million base salary for 2017—the 13th highest salary for a safety in the league this year—shouldn’t be too difficult to trade. Additionally, Denver has a deep, young secondary with which they could fill a void left by Ward’s departure, most notably second-year safety Justin Simmons.

“He’s a good young player. He’s been our starter for three weeks, and we’ve played well on defense,” Joseph said on Tuesday. “He is definitely a good young player.”

Simmons started for Ward—as he recovered from a hamstring injury suffered on Aug. 5 during training camp—in all three of the team’s preseason games this offseason, so a transition to Simmons would be rather seamless with less than two weeks until the start of the regular season.

Ward has practiced the last two days, so he wouldn’t be traded as an injured player.

With already $12 million in cap space for 2017, Denver doesn’t need to move Ward to clear cap space. However, if they believe they can find fair value, it wouldn’t be all that surprising for the original No Fly Zone to have seen its last playing days.


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