May 23, 2024; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton addresses the media after organized team activities at Centura Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Payton calls Broncos’ quarterbacks ‘orphaned dogs’

Denver coach Sean Payton didn’t use the most flattering metaphor when describing the Broncos’ three quarterbacks.

Payton called the trio, which consists of Bo Nix, Zach Wilson and Jarrett Stidham, “orphaned dogs” Thursday.

“They’ve all come from somewhere, but they’re doing well. It’s a good room,” said Peyton, who will be entering his second year as Denver’s coach.

The Broncos selected Nix with the 12th pick in this year’s draft after he threw for 4,508 yards and 45 touchdowns in his final season at Oregon. He completed 77.4 percent of his passes and threw only three interceptions in 470 attempts.

Two days before the draft, the Broncos acquired Wilson, who was the No. 2 overall pick in 2021, and a seventh-round pick from the New York Jets for a sixth-round pick. Wilson struggled with the Jets in his 34 games, throwing for 6,293 yards with 23 touchdowns and 25 interceptions while completing 57 percent of his passes.

Stidham appeared in three games last season for the Broncos and started the final two after he was signed by the club in March 2023. He threw two touchdowns and one interception during the two starts after Denver suddenly decided to bench Russell Wilson. The Broncos, who finished 8-9 last season, released Wilson in March two years into a five-year, $245 million contract.

–Field Level Media

Feb 23, 2023; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sea Dragons quarterback Ben DiNucci (6) walks off the field after the game against the St. Louis Battlehawks at Lumen Field. St. Louis defeated Seattle 20-18. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos release QB Ben DiNucci

The Denver Broncos released quarterback Ben DiNucci on Wednesday, leaving three signal-callers on their roster.

“All part of the journey!!” DiNucci posted on X. “Excited for what’s to come.”

DiNucci, 27, originally signed with Denver in May 2023 but did not see any action last season and became the odd man out.

In addition to the returning Jarrett Stidham, the Broncos drafted Bo Nix with the No. 12 overall pick and acquired former No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson in a trade with the New York Jets this offseason.

A seventh-round pick by Dallas in 2020, DiNucci made his only NFL start that season. He completed 21 of 40 passes for 180 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions in the Cowboys’ 23-9 loss at Philadelphia on Nov. 1.

–Field Level Media

Feb 4, 2023; Paradise, NV, USA; AFC conterback Patrick Surtain II of the Denver Broncos (2) during Pro Bowl Games practice at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos pick up 5th-year option on Pro Bowl CB Patrick Surtain II

The Denver Broncos on Tuesday picked up the fifth-year option on Patrick Surtain II, keeping the All-Pro cornerback under contract through at least the 2025 season.

Surtain was the ninth overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft and George Paton’s first career selection as Broncos general manager. Denver had a May 2 deadline to exercise the option on the rookie contract.

Paton said during the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine that retaining Surtain, 24, would be “one of the easier decisions we’ll make.”

The Broncos will pay Surtain $6.6 million in 2024, with a guaranteed salary of $19.8 million for the option year in 2025, while staving off potential free agency for at least another year.

Surtain started 15 of 16 games as a rookie in 2021 and snagged four interceptions — returning one for a touchdown — and had 14 passes defended. He was a Pro Bowl selection for the next two seasons, also making first-team All-Pro in 2022.

In 50 career games (49 starts), Surtain has seven interceptions, 36 passes defended, one forced fumble and 187 tackles. Last season, he became the first player in franchise history with double-digit passes defended (14, 10, 12) in his first three seasons.

–Field Level Media

Nov 2, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Levi Wallace (29) on the sidelines in a game against the Tennessee Titansat Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Broncos to sign veteran CB Levi Wallace

The Denver Broncos are expected to sign veteran cornerback Levi Wallace, multiple outlets reported Monday.

NFL Network said the 28-year-old free agent is in Denver for a visit and will sign “if all goes well.”

ESPN indicated it would be a one-year deal for the former Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers starter.

Wallace recorded 38 tackles and two interceptions in 16 games (nine starts) with the Steelers in 2023.

He has 12 interceptions, 54 passes defensed and 305 tackles in 83 games (70 starts) for Buffalo (2018-21) and Pittsburgh (2022-23). He was undrafted out of Alabama in 2018.

–Field Level Media

Sep 12, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA;   Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day (69) takes on Chicago Bears offensive lineman Sam Mustipher (67) and tight end Cole Kmet (85) in the second half of the game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos sign C Sam Mustipher to one-year deal

The Denver Broncos signed free agent center Sam Mustipher to a one-year contract Thursday.

Mustipher, 27, appeared in nine games (two starts) with the Baltimore Ravens last season.

He has started 42 times in 52 career games with the Chicago Bears (2020-22) and Ravens (2023).

The 6-foot-2, 332-pound offensive lineman was undrafted out of Notre Dame in 2019.

–Field Level Media

Sep 19, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Denver Broncos linebacker Justin Strnad (40) against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos re-sign LB Justin Strnad to 1-year deal

The Denver Broncos re-signed inside linebacker Justin Strnad on Thursday to a one-year deal.

Strnad, 27, has played in 50 games over the last three seasons for the Broncos, with his five starts all coming in 2021.

The 2020 fifth-round pick has 46 career tackles with one quarterback hit and has played in at least 84 percent of the team’s special teams snaps over the past two seasons.

–Field Level Media

Dec 17, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins safety Brandon Jones (29) celebrates after defeating the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos confirm 3-year deal with S Brandon Jones

The Denver Broncos confirmed the signing of former Miami Dolphins safety Brandon Jones to a three-year deal on Thursday.

Terms were not disclosed, but earlier reports put the value at $20 million — up to $22.5 million with incentives — with $12.5 million guaranteed.

Jones played in 16 games (six starts) with Miami in 2023 and contributed two interceptions, four passes defensed and 48 tackles.

Jones, who turns 26 next month, was drafted in the fourth round by Miami in 2020 and tallied three interceptions, four forced fumbles, eight sacks and 238 tackles in 54 games (30 starts).

“Truly wouldn’t trade these last 4 years for anything. Forever grateful for the Dolphins organization for taking a chance on a kid from Nacogdoches, Texas that wanted nothing more than to live out his childhood dreams of playing in the NFL. Denver … LFG,” Jones posted Monday on X, confirming the move.

–Field Level Media

Miami Dolphins safety Brandon Jones (29) celebrates recovering a fumble on the goal line during the first half of an NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Dec. 24, 2023.

Reports: Broncos signing S Brandon Jones to 3-year deal

The Denver Broncos are signing former Miami Dolphins safety Brandon Jones to a three-year, $20 million contract, per multiple reports Monday.

The deal is worth up to $22.5 million with incentives and includes $12.5 million guaranteed, multiple outlets reported.

Jones appeared in 16 games (six starts) in 2023 and contributed two interceptions, four passes defensed and 48 tackles.

Jones, who turns 26 next month, was drafted in the fourth round by Miami in 2020 and recorded three interceptions, four forced fumbles, eight sacks and 238 tackles in 54 games (30 starts).

The Broncos released former All-Pro safety Justin Simmons to clear room under the salary cap.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton talks with quarterback Russell Wilson (3) in the fourth quarter against the Washington Commanders at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Points likely at a premium as Broncos visit Patriots

The New England Patriots and Denver Broncos are nearly 10 years removed from the final regular season meeting that pitted Tom Brady against Peyton Manning.

New England won that game 43-21 on Nov. 2, 2014, behind four passing touchdowns from Brady. If Sunday night’s clash between Denver and the visiting Patriots proves anything, it might just be how much truly can change over the course of a decade.

Both offenses have fallen far from the perch they sat atop nine years ago, with New England’s decline especially evident.

The Patriots (3-11) are averaging a league-worst 13.3 points per game following last Sunday’s 27-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Chad Ryland’s 25-yard field goal put New England up 10-7 with 4:47 left in the second quarter, but the Patriots didn’t score again until there was just under 8 1/2 minutes left in the fourth.

Denver (7-7) sported the least explosive offense of the 2022 campaign (16.9 points per game), but Sean Payton, in his first season as Broncos coach, has started to turn things around.

A winner of six of its past eight games, Denver is averaging 21.7 points under Payton. It was held under that mark in a 42-17 setback against the Detroit Lions last weekend, but New England coach Bill Belichick knows that the Broncos have what it takes to bounce back.

“They obviously have good players,” Belichick said. “They started the same line in every game, so they’ve got a lot of continuity there. Quarterback’s a unique player, he’s got a lot of skill. Receivers, (Courtland) Sutton’s as good as there is — big guy, great hands, contested catches, a really hard guy to cover.”

That quarterback Belichick was referring to is Russell Wilson, who was relatively quiet against Detroit, completing 18 of 32 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown.

Wilson was also shown getting laid into by Payton on the sideline late in the third quarter after a Denver TD was nullified because of an offensive offside penalty.

“Difficult night. … It was just one of those moments,” Payton told reporters afterward. “Listen, what I talk with Russell about is none of your business.”

Payton is making sure no negative feelings from that altercation — or the loss itself — spill over into Sunday’s meeting with the Patriots.

“You can only focus on the things you can control, and it’s obviously getting ready to play New England — and that’s it,” Payton said. “Focus on getting this next win, because that’s really all that matters.”

If the Broncos want to bounce back, they might have to do so without linebacker Nik Bonitto (knee) and tight end Greg Dulcich (hamstring/foot), who both missed practice on Wednesday.

Linebacker Jonathon Cooper (ankle) was limited for Denver, as was tackle Alex Palczewski due to a knee injury.

New England tight end Hunter Henry is also dealing with a knee injury, which forced him to miss Wednesday’s practice. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson (ankle), safety Jabrill Peppers (hamstring) and tackle Conor McDermott (concussion) were also held out.

Cornerback Jonathan Jones (knee) and receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (ankle) were among seven Patriots who were limited on Wednesday.

–Field Level Media