Signed in 2014, T.J. Ward became an integral piece in a remarkable identity shift for the Denver Broncos. Ward and several other defensive talents helped the Broncos morph from a Peyton Manning-guided offensive juggernaut to a team geared around its defense.
Most of the core from Denver’s Super Bowl 50 champion defense remains, but the Broncos reportedly have dangled the Pro Bowl safety in trade talks this week as roster-cutdown day looms.
Linebacker Von Miller is the latest Broncos defender to speak up and support Ward being back for a fourth season.
“I thought it was fake news,” Miller said Wednesday of Ward being on the trade block, via Broncos-distributed quotes. “I mean I didn’t think — it’s serious like that? It can’t be that serious. T.J.’s been a great player for us, but it’s the National Football League. You always get blindsided by stuff. T.J.’s been great for us, so I don’t see any reason to (trade). (GM John Elway) and the guys upstairs, they push this organization in a great direction and I’m going to go continue to make championship moves for us.
“I don’t really — it has to be fake news; I really can’t believe in that too much.”
Ward is entering a contract year, and to some degree it makes sense to shop the 30-year-old defender. The Broncos drafted Justin Simmons in the third round last year, and he’ll be attached to a rookie contract through 2019. They also signed starting safety Darian Stewart to a long-term extension. Second-year sixth-rounder Will Parks and potentially promising undrafted player Jamal Carter could be tough to pass through waivers to the practice squad.
However, Ward has made three Pro Bowls — two for the Broncos — and has shown value to a team that will need all hands on deck defensively this season since the Denver offense is probably an average unit. Ward is on a team-friendly contract, given safety deals handed out in recent years, so it stands to reason he’d generate interest. Ward is set to count $5.75 million against the Broncos’ cap this season.