ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos released outside linebacker Jake Martin, 27, on Wednesday. The Aurora native and Cherokee Trail grad joined the Broncos via a November trade at the trade deadline. The Broncos will save nearly $4 million in salary cap space by moving on from Martin, who had two years remaining on his contract.
The Broncos swapped a fourth-round pick for a fifth-round pick to acquire Martin from the New York Jets. Denver had recently completed a trade that sent edge rusher Bradley Chubb to Miami and Randy Gregory was in the middle of an extended absence due to a knee injury. Martin, who came to Denver with four years of NFL experience, including one season as a starter, provided a veteran depth option in an otherwise young outside linebackers room. Martin was injured shortly after he arrived in Denver, but he played in five games and provided a sack and two tackles for loss.
Martin signed a three-year, $13.5 million contract with the Jets before the 2022 season. The Broncos were scheduled to take on a $4.8 million cap hit for Martin in 2023, but they will now owe $1 million because of the release. The move opens up $3.8 million in cap space in 2023 and $3.5 million in 2024. Of the $13.5 million in Martin’s initial contract, he’ll take home the $6 million in guaranteed money in exchange for one season of work. He is now free to negotiate a contract with any team.
The move comes in the wake of the Broncos’ signing of veteran safety Kareem Jackson, 35. The Broncos now have 90 players signed to their roster, the maximum allowed in the NFL’s offseason. They still have to sign their five draft picks to contracts and must cut or trade a player currently on their roster to clear space for each drafted rookie.
The Broncos have six outside linebackers on their roster:
- Randy Gregory, 30
- Baron Browning, 24
- Jonathon Cooper, 25
- Nik Bonitto, 23
- Aaron Patrick, 26
- Christopher Allen, 24
- Thomas Incoom, 24 (UDFA)
- Marcus Haynes, 25 (UDFA)
Denver carried six outside linebackers on their 2022 opening-day roster, but that is a surprisingly large number. They’ll likely carry four or five on opening day, depending on whether depth players can earn special teams roles.
Gregory and Browning are the likely starters. Cooper, a former seventh-round pick, has started 14 games for the Broncos during his two NFL seasons, and will likely slot into the third spot in the rotation. Cooper ranked higher than Martin in the rotation last season. Bonitto, the Broncos’ 2022 second-round pick, struggled as a rookie but could carve out a role as a speed rusher in his second year. Patrick earned a roster spot last season thanks to his special teams acumen but tore his ACL early in the year. Allen was the Broncos’ top undrafted free agent from a year ago but tore his ACL before the season.