Identifying Options for Broncos After Declining Garett Bolles’s Optionby Aaron Hubert May 2, 2020 0 comments
The Broncos officially declined offensive lineman Garett Bolles’s fifth-year option on Friday. Although he has been under fire for years with his excessive penalties, it seemed like he was trending in the right direction with the proper people around him.
2020 will likely be Bolles’s last season as a Bronco so he will need to prove himself in what will end up being a contract year. Bolles was Pro Football Focus’ 18th-best tackle (out of 72 qualifying) in the NFL last year as he gave up one sack and was responsible for just two penalties with Drew Lock under center in the last five games of the season.
With Bolles currently not under contract for the 2021 season, here are some options for the Broncos as they begin to pursue plans for maneuvering the future offensive line.
The first option would be an extension for Bolles that is new and benefits the team before he hits free agency. Bolles’s team option was roughly a $9.5 million raise with a projected salary of $11.06 million. While that figure seems alarming for a player that never made a Pro Bowl and doesn’t have many individual accolades, it could have ended up being a bargain. If 2020 is the year that Bolles blossoms, his option salary would have been team-friendly compared to the money required when attempting to sign an unrestricted free agent star.
Losing Bolles to free agency could allow Dalton Risner to slot in at left tackle, which he played in college. This would put newly-drafted interior offensive lineman Netane Muti in Risner’s place. Such a move makes sense considering Muti was drafted with Risner and Glasgow cemented in as starting guards for 2020. Currently, the Muti selection seems a little out of place considering the team likes Elijah Wilkerson as a versatile offensive line backup.
Another alternative would be to head into the 2021 draft with left tackle as a team need and likely first-round selection. Denver did that in 2017 and ended up with Garett Bolles over eventual Pro Bowler Ryan Ramczyk, who was the next tackle taken by the New Orleans Saints. Bolles was considered a project with a high ceiling and was a career left tackle over right tackle, much like Ramczyk, but having a Pro Bowler at tackle instead of a player that leads the league in penalties would have been nice for the Broncos.
The final option would be to utilize free agency to sign another franchise left tackle. As it stands right now, David Bakhtiari, Trent Williams, and Ronnie Stanley are leaders of the class set to become free agents next offseason.
A lot remains uncertain regarding the cohesive unit that is supposed to protect young quarterback Drew Lock, but with Bolles on his way out, the Broncos brass needs to get an early jump on planning for the line’s future.