Jun 4, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James (70)  looks on during mini camp drills at the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse at UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Ja’Wuan James files grievance against Broncos

Former Denver Broncos right tackle Ja’Wuan James has filed a grievance against the team seeking to recoup his 2021 pay, according to Profootballtalk.com.

James, 29, sustained a season-ending torn Achilles injury while working away from team facilities in early May.

The Broncos released James in May with a non-football injury designation, clearing the way for the team to void his salary for 2021.

James was set to earn $10 million in base salary in 2021. But shortly after the injury, the NFL cited James in a memo informing teams that injuries incurred in such conditions could be given the non-football injury (NFI) designation, letting teams off the hook from paying the player for missed time.

The NFL Players Association viewed that stance as a mechanism to force players to join teams’ involuntary workouts.

In an email to players, the union wrote of the league’s stance on James: “It was gutless to use a player’s serious injury as a scare tactic to get you to come running back to these workouts.

“This memo is another sign of what they think of you and also affirms that they simply want to control you year-round in any and every way that they can.”

According to the report, James contends he was working out with teammates in a manner “specifically authorized” by the team. The grievance also claims it believes the Broncos’ facilities were not compliant with Colorado’s COVID-19 guidelines.

He is reportedly seeking the $10 million he had guaranteed on his contract for 2021 and $5 million that was guaranteed for 2022.

The Broncos and the NFL reportedly declined to comment on the grievance, which will be heard by a panel of arbitrators.

James opted out of the 2020 season. He played in only three games since the Broncos signed him to a four-year, $51 million contract before the 2019 season. He dealt with a knee injury that season and played only 63 snaps for the Broncos.

James was the Miami Dolphins’ first-round draft pick out of Tennessee in 2014. Injuries cost him 18 games during his five seasons with the Dolphins before he became a free agent after the 2018 season.

–Field Level Media

May 24, 2021; Englewood, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) and quarterback Brett Rypien (4) and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) during organized team activities at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Teddy Bridgewater, Drew Lock embrace competition as Broncos hit field

Teddy Bridgewater did not hesitate when asked about the last time he was in a quarterback competition.

It was yesterday. And the day before. And on and on.

“Every day I wake up, I consider myself competing for my job,” Bridgewater said Monday. “I think that’s the mindset of everyone who plays this game.”

This time, the competition is obvious to everyone outside the team, as well. Bridgewater took part in organized team activities with his new club, the Denver Broncos, as he battles for the starting job along with incumbent Drew Lock.

Bridgewater completed 69.1 percent of his passes for 3,733 yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 15 starts last season with the Carolina Panthers. Denver acquired the 28-year-old on April 28 in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick.

The veteran deflected questions about whether one season was enough time to prove himself in Carolina, instead saying he was focused on the Broncos. He said he is focused on improvement, not whether the Broncos consider him the top quarterback today or in Week 1.

“I saw Von (Miller) this morning when he came in the building,” Bridgewater said. “The first thing he said today was, ‘You’re here to play football now.’ That’s my mindset now. I’m here to play football and whatever happens, happens. I’m here to help this team become a better team.”

Lock, 24, started 13 games for the Broncos last season. He completed 57.3 percent of his passes for 2,933 yards, 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

The Missouri product welcomed the addition of Bridgewater to practice.

“It’s going to be fun,” Lock said. “I’m excited to be able to go out there and have this competition, push myself to a whole different level that maybe I wouldn’t have gotten to without this.”

So far, the two quarterbacks have connected off the field as they compete for a starting job on it.

“Teddy’s been great,” Lock said. “Today was obviously the first time meeting him in person being that we’ve all had to be on Zoom again up until this point. I feel like we’re going to be able to talk easily out there. It comes from seeing Drew (Brees) play. He’s seen a lot of great quarterbacks and he’s played a lot of ball. He has a lot of experience.

“I feel like we can both bounce things off of each other now where I don’t feel necessarily that I’m the young one.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants offensive tackle Cameron Fleming (75) runs across the field during the Blue-White Scrimmage at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Broncos agree to one-year deal with OT Cameron Fleming

The Denver Broncos agreed to a one-year deal with offensive tackle Cameron Fleming on Thursday, according to a report from Denver’s 9News, one day after the team signed offensive tackle Bobby Massie.

The Broncos are looking to replace Ja’Wuan James, who is out for the season with a ruptured Achilles.

Fleming, 28, who started all 16 games for the New York Giants last season at right tackle, will earn $3.67 million, according to the report.

Fleming played his first four seasons with the New England Patriots after he was a fourth-round draft pick in 2014 out of Stanford. He played for the Dallas Cowboys from 2018-19 before he joined the Giants last season.

Last season was the first time Fleming started more than seven games in a single season.

–Field Level Media

Aug 25, 2020; Englewood, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller (58) during training camp at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Von Miller among Broncos at team workout

Around the NFL, some players have steered clear of voluntary workouts this offseason.

Not Von Miller.

Miller and “several” other players worked out at the Denver Broncos team facility Monday, according to a report from 9news.com.

Miller, 32, who will be entering his 11th year with the Broncos, has a $500,000 workout bonus in his contract, giving him incentive to participate in the offseason program.

The 8-time Pro Bowler did not play in the 2020 season due to an ankle injury, and he is coming off a 2019 season in which he notched just eight sacks in 15 games, the second lowest total of his career (five sacks in nine games in 2013).

Miller has at least 10 sacks in seven of his nine healthy seasons with Denver.

–Field Level Media

Dec 13, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass as Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (93) defends during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Broncos signing DT Shamar Stephen

The Denver Broncos have agreed to terms with defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, Denver’s 9 News reported Tuesday.

The Minnesota Vikings released Stephen last month to clear $3.75 million in salary cap space.

Stephen, 30, started all 16 games for the Vikings last season and tallied 34 tackles and three quarterback hits.

A seventh-round pick by Minnesota in 2014, Stephen has 173 tackles, 4.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries in 98 games (65 starts) with the Vikings and Seattle Seahawks (2018).

–Field Level Media

Sep 14, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Nick Vannett (88) in the third quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Broncos to release TE Nick Vannett

Jan 3, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (19) returns a punt for a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in the second quarter at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Broncos are releasing tight end Nick Vannett in a salary-cap move, 9News Denver reported Tuesday.

The five-year veteran signed a two-year, $5.7 million deal with Denver last March. The Broncos will save nearly $2.7 million while incurring a dead cap hit of $875,000.

Vannett played in 15 games last season, starting 11. He caught 14 passes for 95 yards with one touchdown.

A third-round draft pick by the Seahawks in 2016, Vannett spent his first three-plus seasons in Seattle, then played 13 games with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019. He has 75 career receptions for 686 yards and five touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Nov 22, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III (25) after his touchdown in the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: DUI charge against Broncos RB Melvin Gordon dropped

Jan 13, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints offensive guard Andrus Peat (75) lines up against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter of a NFC Divisional playoff football game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

A DUI charge against Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon has been dismissed, multiple outlets reported Wednesday.

Denver County Court Judge Olympia Fay made the decision “due to evidentiary concerns,” according to ESPN.

Gordon, 27, pleaded guilty to reckless driving for excessive speeding and will pay a $250 fine and $229 court fee, Denver’s KUSA-TV reported.

By avoiding the more serious charge of driving under the influence, he will likely avoid a three-game suspension from the NFL. He could still be subject to lesser discipline from the league.

Gordon was arrested in downtown Denver on Oct. 13 after allegedly driving 71 mph in a 35 mph zone. The Broncos held him out of their Oct. 18 game at New England, the only contest he missed in his first season with the team.

A two-time Pro Bowl selection with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers, Gordon signed a two-year, $16 million deal with Denver in March 2020. He is due to earn a base salary of $4.5 million in 2021 with a salary cap hit near $9 million.

He led the Broncos with 986 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns in 2020, adding 32 catches for 158 yards and one score in 15 games.

A first-round pick (15th overall) out of Wisconsin in 2015, Gordon has rushed for 5,226 yards and 45 touchdowns and has 256 receptions for 2,031 yards and 12 scores in 82 games with the Chargers (2015-19) and Broncos.

–Field Level Media

Dec 17, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) against the Los Angeles Chargers at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders hope to finish on high note at Broncos

Now that 2020 is ending without a postseason for the Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos, the teams are looking toward 2021 already.

First, they have to wrap up this schedule and start making decisions for the next one, and that will happen when Las Vegas plays at Denver on Sunday afternoon.

For the Raiders (7-8), their first year in their new home was marked by missed opportunities that cost them a chance to get in the expanded playoff field. Las Vegas is the only team to beat the Kansas City Chiefs this season, but a flat performance against Atlanta and last-second losses to the Los Angeles Chargers and Miami Dolphins turned what could have been an 11-win season into a mediocre one.

Despite the tough losses, there is a silver lining. Tight end Darren Waller is on the verge of 100 receptions; his 98 catches (for 1,079 yards and eight touchdowns) are just seven shy of Tim Brown’s franchise record and earned him a Pro Bowl selection.

Running back Josh Jacobs is 24 yards from a second straight 1,000-yard rushing season and was also named to the Pro Bowl.

“Oh, they’re great,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said of the duo. “(Waller’s) a man that’s on the verge of potentially breaking Tim Brown’s record, one I thought never would be broken. And Josh Jacobs, those are two great building blocks.”

Waller, Jacobs and the rest of the Las Vegas offense could have a big day against Denver’s banged-up defense. Linebacker Bradley Chubb, who was also named to the Pro Bowl, has an ankle injury that kept him out of last week’s loss at the Chargers.

Defensive end Shelby Harris (knee) and safety Trey Marshall (quadriceps) are also nursing injuries. Wide receiver KJ Hamler is in the concussion protocol.

The Raiders listed several players on their injury report — tackle Trent Brown (knee), defensive end Clelin Ferrell (shoulder), guard Denzelle Good (ankle), defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (calf) and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner (thigh).

Denver (5-10) failed to reach the postseason for the fifth straight year, matching the drought from 2006-10. The Broncos hoped to see quarterback Drew Lock make a big leap after he had an impressive ending to 2019, but the second-year QB out of Missouri has struggled.

Lock has thrown 15 interceptions and has at least one turnover in 11 straight games, but he hasn’t lost confidence in himself and embraces the pressure of being a franchise quarterback.

“You feel that from Day 1 when you’re playing quarterback for any team,” Lock said Wednesday. “It’s a given pressure that is put on you, but it’s one that I’m excited about. It’s one that I’m going to carry with me into the offseason, so I can have an offseason unlike any other.

“The only thing I need to prove is that we can win a game with me under center. That’s what every quarterback has to prove — take care of the ball, put us in a good position to win the game and finish it out with a win. That’s all I want to do, and that’s all I care to do. However that needs to happen and however it does happen, I’m going to do everything I can to get us that.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 17, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Chargers and Broncos look for strong finishes from young QBs

The Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers are only playing for pride and draft positioning Sunday afternoon at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., but that doesn’t mean the AFC West rivals don’t have anything to celebrate.

Both can boast of having a pair of Pro Bowl players. Linebacker Bradley Chubb and safety Justin Simmons were named to the squad from Denver, while defensive end Joey Bosa and wide receiver Keenan Allen represent the Chargers.

It’s a small consolation for teams that had hoped to be playing well into January. Instead they look to the future with their young quarterbacks showing the potential to become franchise mainstays.

For the Chargers (5-9), Justin Herbert stepped into the starting role in Week 2 after Tyrod Taylor was injured in the first week of the season. Herbert has been solid in his rookie season, throwing for 3,781 yards and 27 touchdowns and rushing for another four in 13 games.

Herbert has earned the respect of Broncos coach Vic Fangio.

“Very, very impressed with him — big arm, big body, fast, strong in the pocket, hard to get down, has really run their offense with a great command,” Fangio said Wednesday. “I think their offensive coaches have done a good job bringing him along. He’s been very, very impressive.”

Herbert is coming off one of his best games of the season. He passed for 314 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for another in an overtime win over the Las Vegas Raiders. It was L.A.’s second successive victory after dropping eight of the previous 10.

Herbert beat the Raiders with Allen, his top receiver, limited with a hamstring injury. Allen didn’t practice Wednesday and could be a game-time decision Sunday.

Herbert’s opposite number, Drew Lock, hasn’t put up the same numbers but Denver (5-9) thinks it has found its quarterback after four seasons of searching. Lock has thrown just 14 TD passes and 2,330 yards in 11 games, but one of his best outings came against the Chargers on Nov. 1.

The Broncos rallied to erase a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit, winning it on Lock’s touchdown pass to KJ Hamler as time expired. Two weeks ago, he had a stunning performance against Carolina, when he was 21-for-27, 280 yards and 4 TDs in a 32-27 triumph.

He struggled last week against Buffalo but hopes to bounce back to finish the season strong.

He’ll have to do it against a former teammate who also wants to finish out the year on a high note. Cornerback Chris Harris Jr., a key member of Denver’s defense that led the team to the Super Bowl 50 title, has battled injuries in his first year with the Chargers. In Week 3 he suffered a high ankle sprain, a low ankle sprain, a broken toe and a bruised foot, missing seven games.

He returned Nov. 29. By then L.A.’s playoff hopes were slim but the former All-Pro wanted to play.

“Most guys would have been done for the year,” Harris said this week. “I was motivated to try to do whatever I can to get back and help this team.”

The Broncos will get help with the return of kicker Brandon McManus, who was placed on the COVID-19 /reserve list for close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. His one-game replacement, Taylor Russolino, missed a field goal and two extra points.

–Field Level Media