Broncos coach Vic Fangio entered the offseason determined to reshape the team's defensive line. After missing out on multiple free agents, the Broncos never wavered and general manager John Elway made a bold move, acquiring five-time Pro Bowler Jurrell Casey from the Titans for a 2020 seventh-round pick, per sources.
Where's the beef? It's now in Denver up front. Casey goes 6-foot-1, 305 pounds, and has posted at least five sacks in five straight seasons, earning Pro Bowl nods in each year. He has started 137 of 139 regular season game since entering the league in 2011. He has carved out a reputation as a run stuffer capable of disrupting the passing game.
His contract makes this a shrewd deal if the 30-year can continue on the same trajectory. His deal runs through 2022 with salaries of $11.25 million, $11.6 and $13.25. The last of his guaranteed money ends in 2020. The Broncos balked at paying free agent D.J. Reader in excess of $13 million as he chose the Bengals. Reader was younger, but Casey is more accomplished.
"He's a great player. A really good pick up," said Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe.
Casey did work in playoffs last season. He finished with 2.5 sacks, eight tackles, one for a loss, three QB hits and a forced fumble. He was a gamechanger in the upset over the Ravens.
Casey brings a reputation as a lockerroom leader. With Casey in the fold, the Broncos might still be able to keep Wolfe, but this all but signals the end of Shelby Harris' tenure in Denver. The Broncos approached the last few months with a to-do list before entering the draft, and checked off acquiring a cornerback in A.J. Bouye, signing a right guard (Graham Glasgow) and landing a defensive lineman (Casey).
He became available as the Titans looked to clear cap space to pay star running back Derrick Henry and cornerback Logan Ryan. The Broncos are expected to cut ties with quarterback Joe Flacco on Wednesday, clearing cap space.
The Broncos also have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with cornerback DeVante Bausby. They didn't tender him a contract assigning draft pick compensation earlier, but had also planned to bring him back. Bausby provides depth after showing promise last season before suffering a scary neck injury against the Chargers.