Whether the Broncos trade Chubb or not, Sunday’s result shouldn’t impact their decision
If they receive a viable offer, the Broncos could deal Bradley Chubb before the trade deadline. Or, perhaps they won’t receive reasonable trade value and they could stand pat.
Either way, if the Broncos let Sunday’s result determine their decision, they’re doing it wrong.
One game against a 2-5 team shouldn’t change their call. The Jacksonville Jaguars lug a four-game losing streak into Week 8, just like the Broncos. Just as the Broncos view this contest as a chance to come together and fix what ails them, so too do the Jaguars.
Denver doesn’t have a win over a team with even a .500 record. That will still be the case by the time the sun sets at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
The current injuries at edge rusher shouldn’t change their view, either. If they hold on to Chubb with viable trade offers just because Baron Browning is dealing with a short-term hip injury and Randy Gregory is completing his recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery, that would equally make them prisoners of the moment.
The truth is, the decision on Chubb comes down to a few other factors:
THE OTHERS IN THE ROOM
Do the Broncos plan to re-sign Chubb to a multi-year extension? If this is the case, the price they demand should be steep. After all, such an extension likely pushes Chubb to an average per-year contract value of at least $18 million, with a guaranteed outlay perhaps in the $50 million range.
Cash isn’t a problem for the Broncos. But cap space matters. And the depth at the position matters. If they didn’t have Browning in their fold, trade rumblings might be non-existent.
But they do have Browning, and this year, he has a higher pressure rate and pass-rush win percentage than Chubb, per the data compiled by Pro Football Focus.
The same is true for Gregory. Further, among NFL edge rushers, Gregory ranks second in pressure rate and fifth in pass-rush win percentage among 152 edge rushers with at least 20 pass-rush snaps, per PFF.
With Browning and Gregory in their midst and solid depth in Nik Bonitto and Jonathon Cooper, the Broncos must ask this: Do they REALLY need Chubb? Or is it wiser to parlay him into resources to shore up weak spots? To sell high on a currently-flourishing player with a lengthy injury history?
Which brings us to …
RESOURCES MIGHT BE BETTER INVESTED ELSEWHERE
It is common to deal from strength to shore up points of weakness. Many trades happen for that reason.
On the edge, the Broncos are more fortified than most. The position group would not become a weakness if they dealt Chubb. And in terms of overall roster-building, a trade of Chubb opens up the possibility of using the franchise tag on Dre’Mont Jones if a long-term deal with him cannot be struck before March.
But trading Chubb for draft capital — likely in the first three rounds of next spring’s draft — means that the Broncos would be in position to add to their struggling offense.
It’s most likely that they would target the offensive line. That unit could face a rebuild in the face of continued instability at right tackle, Dalton Risner’s expiring contract and Garett Bolles trying to come back from a fractured ankle. That injury that has derailed the careers of other offensive linemen around age 30, as Bolles is now.
Denver likely doesn’t have the draft capital to draft certain Day 1 starters on the offensive line right now. But a trade of Chubb for a deal that involves at least a Round pick would change that.
On the one hand, the phrase “you can never have too many pass rushers” is almost mantra at UCHealth Training Center. It helped define the Broncos of the mid-2010s. Those teams, including the one that won Super Bowl 50, attacked with waves of edge rushers: Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett.
A key aspect of the success of the 2015 team in particular was the ability of Ray and Barrett to play high-leverage repetitions just as their likely-Hall-of-Fame-bound teammates could.
Much has changed since then, but the prominence of edge rushers has not. Depth in that area is a blessing.
But one thing to consider for the Broncos is this: While they have have trouble finding effective players at other positions in the last decade — quarterback, most prominently — they’ve never encountered difficulty locating productive edge rushers. This, too, must be considered.
History shows that their chances of procuring the right reinforcements at edge rusher are excellent.
It’s not just about whether to keep Chubb and re-sign him in the offseason — or let him walk in free agency. Denver has the option of using the franchise tag on him for 2023, too. In that instance, they could bring him back for another year — or trade him off of the franchise tag.
A tag-and-trade would certainly net more than the third-round compensatory pick the Broncos would receive if he left in unrestricted free agency. And it would give the Broncos a chance to let this season play out.
However, the tag option also increases Chubb’s trade value right now. Unlike Von Miller last year — who was unlikely to be tagged given the Rams’ cap crunch and his status as a then-11-year veteran — there is a good chance that Chubb would not be merely a half-season rental. And with the option of tagging Chubb twice, it could effectively have two-and-a-half years of team control.
Along with age, this constitutes the collective reason why the Broncos could get more for Chubb than they did for Miller last year.
So, there are viable arguments to trade Chubb. There are just as many to stand pat and hold on to him. And all involve big-picture discussions.
But to let a single game an ocean away against a struggling team tilt the scales one way or another? That would make no sense.