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.
Von Miller is the latest Bronco 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 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’s ceiling 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.