The Broncos held their first in-person press conference in more than a year as they introduced new cornerback Ronald Darby and new running back Mike Boone. Both players are the first 2 free agents signed from outside the building for new General Manager George Paton.
Paton inked Darby to a 3 year $30 Million Deal with $19.5 guaranteed and said this as he introduced Darby to the assembled media on the practice field inside the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse at UC Health Training Center. "I scouted Ronald back at Florida State and [he is] very talented, obviously, Paton said. "Really natural cover skills coming out. He's had a nice career thus far. He's faced some adversity along the way with injuries, but the thing I like about Ronald is he played in Washington this year and he played 94 percent of the snaps on defense which is more than any corner in the National Football League. Started 16 games and played at a high level. They were second in the league in pass defense and comparing him to the other corners in free agency, we thought he had the best pure coverage skills of any corner. Talking with the coaches, he really fits what Vic wants. He can play man, he can play zone, he can match up, he can press and he can really run. Since Ronald's been in the league, he's third in the NFL in pass deflections, so he gets his hands on a lot of balls. Doing our background on players who aren't here and from other teams, we do a lot of background, and everything that came back from Ronald is he's a 'glue guy' and he brings the juice. He's a hard worker and he's going to fit the culture that we have with the Denver Broncos. Ronald, we're happy to have you here."
As you'll see if you click on the tweet below, Paton added more detail towards the end of the press conference as to what he likes about Darby.
Boone is a player Paton is very familiar with as he's been the Assistant GM in Minnesota for all 3 seasons the undrafted running back from Cincinnati has been in the Twin Cities.
"I’ve been with Mike the last three years with the Vikings, Paton said as he introduced Boone. "Mike Boone is a self-made man. Free agent out of Cincinnati. We signed him as a running back, obviously. He earned the team playing special teams. Four phases—played him four phases on special teams and he's one of the top special teams players for the Vikings. He was playing behind [Vikings RB] Dalvin Cook, so he didn't have a lot of opportunity, but when he did have the opportunity, he really produced. I think he's going to help our room. He's going to add some special teams to the offensive side of the ball, which we lack. I'm really excited to have Mike Boone here."
Boone, is aware people think he is the replacement for Phillip Lindsay but he isn't trying to fill anyone's shoes he said, "That’s my boy, shout out to Phil. We trained together our rookie [year] coming into the NFL together. I’m here to be me. Shout out to Phil. Major respect and great athlete, but I’m just here to be me and do what I can."
Paton explained why he decided to rescind Lindsay's franchise tag earlier Thursday morning, allowing the CU alum to sign anywhere without the Broncos having the right to match. You can watch Paton share his reasoning if you click on the tweet below.
Paton also gave an update on contract negotiations with safety Justin Simmons who is currently set to play on the franchise tag and make and count about $13.5 Million against the salary cap. "I think we’re making progress, Paton said. "I don’t know when it will happen, but I believe we are making progress and that’s been a priority since I’ve gotten here."
Paton also shared his thinking on why he chose to pick up the $7 Million option on linebacker Von Miller's $18.5 final year of his contract, but not do the same for safety Kareem Jackson who was owed a $1.5 Million Option as well as the rest of the $10 Million contract this season as you can see below.
The Broncos appear to be done for a bit on the free agency front, although Paton acknowledged they're still looking for QB competition for Drew Lock and while viable free agency options are dwindling, a trade is a possibility, as is the draft, and Paton admitted that a signal caller could be in play with the No. 9 pick in the draft.