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Woody Paige: Should the Broncos trade T.J. Ward or trade for Brock Osweiler?

August 29, 2017 Updated: August 30, 2017 at 6:07 am
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photo - Denver's T.J. Ward goes out of bounds on a 23 yard interception return in the third quarter of the Broncos 27-19 win over the Chargers Sunday, October 30, 2016 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette
Denver's T.J. Ward goes out of bounds on a 23 yard interception return in the third quarter of the Broncos 27-19 win over the Chargers Sunday, October 30, 2016 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette 

Note to His Own Self:

Do not trade away T.J. Ward or trade for Brock Osweiler.

John Elway (H.O.S.) surely is shrewd and sensible enough not to do either.

According to a media report Tuesday, the Broncos have reached out, and/or been approached, about a possible deal involving Ward, the Broncos' solid starting strong safety.

And stories that the Browns are trying to do an Osweiler dump swirl.

The first is surprising, the second not so.

The 30-year-old Ward is in the final season of the four-year, $22.5 million contract he signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Broncos in 2014. He does count $5.75 million against the cap ($4.5 million in salary, $1.25 in pro rata bonus money); the Broncos do have three young safeties they believe in as secondary futures.

And Ward has not played a down in exhibitions because of a strained hamstring, but he is practicing.

But the Broncos must not break up the Flying Horsemen.

They are not the Sailing Norsemen.

The "No-Fly Zone'' is the pre-eminent air defense corps in the NFL and has the prime prospect to lead the league for a third consecutive year. Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. named the unit because members wave their arms and "fly around'' after interceptions and critical pass plays defended.

These guys have become as significant as the Three (Four) Musketeers - Athos, Porthos, Aramis and d'Artagnan.

They are Harris, Ward, Aqib Talib and Darian Stewart - joined by Bradley Roby and, last season, rookies Justin Simmons and Will Parks. This year the additions should be cornerback Brendan Langley and safety Jamal Carter.

Of the first four, Ward actually is the lowest-rewarded. Talib counts $12 million, Harris $9.86 and Stewart $7.4. T.J. is a bargain in comparison. He has been selected to three Pro Bowls, two since escaping Cleveland.

Ward is a hybrid safety-linebacker, a position that has become a popular item. He slips into tackler mode on early downs (and was in on 87 tackles in 2016) and is a tight end-running back cover man on obvious passing downs. He is one of several leaders on defense, a tough guy and a good guy.

His T.J. Ward Foundation focuses on education, family values and community service.

His efforts and beliefs on or off the field shouldn't be questioned.

Terrell Ray Williams Ward Jr. will be intent on a splendid season, striving for the next big contract in Denver or elsewhere.

Ward said on Tuesday trade talks were news to him, and he wants to play for the Broncos. Coach Vance Joseph seemed shocked when asked about a potential trade of a player he called "among the best'' of the Broncos.

So, why would H.O.S. contemplate getting rid of a defender who has played exceedingly well?

It can't be because of the team's salary-cap level. The Broncos will have approximately $10 million in space when the regular season begins. The team is not squeezed and can sign another player or two as situations arise. The franchise would free up $5.75 million, but how much is a Pro Bowl-proven safety worth?

The Broncos might get a conditional third- or fourth-round draft pick, but it's not as if they've used those selections so wisely over the past six years. Would they receive a starter at tight end or defensive end? Not likely.

H.O.S. is proud of Simmons & Parks, but one is more of a center fielder, and the other is on the NFL Watchlist as a result of accusations from a former girlfriend. Carter may be a player someday, but not today.

Browns Buccaneers Football
Cleveland Browns quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) watches from the sideline during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Browns won 13-9. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) 

On the other front, the Wizard of Os turned out to be just a guy behind a curtain when he spurned the Broncos' offer and mostly whiffed on his opportunities in Houston and Cleveland. Who will expend $16 million in guaranteed salary? Nobody. And H.O.S. hasn't forgotten and forgiven. Osweiler will be cut, and some team might sign him for the $775,000 veteran minimum, but he's a backup again.

I believe Paxton Lynch will miss a quarter of the season (until the bye week), so Elway et al. probably will add another young or cheap quarterback this weekend.

The Broncos have to keep Ward and keep away from Osweiler.

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