While Phillip Lindsay's future in Denver remains uncertain, Broncos general manager George Paton announced a move Thursday that could be a step in the right direction if the team wants him back next season.
Paton said the Broncos intend to tender the running back and Colorado native, meaning they hope to have him back next year. Paton didn't say whether the tender would be a second-round tender or his original round — he went undrafted in 2018. A second-round tender would pay him $3.38 million and force a team to surrender a second-round pick, whereas an original tender would pay $2.13 million and wouldn't guarantee him returning to the Broncos, as he could sign elsewhere with no draft pick compensation.
"He's a good player. He brings energy and juice," Paton said. "We do plan on tendering him, but not sure at what level. But we do want him here."
Lindsay isn't the only Broncos player who will be tendered, with wide receiver Tim Patrick and linebacker Alexander Johnson also being tendered, according to Paton. Each team is only allowed one second-round tender, Patrick might make the most sense, coming off a year in which he had a career high in receptions (51), yards (742) and touchdowns (six).
“We’re going to tender both those players," Paton said. "Again I’m not sure which level, but two good football players that we look forward to being here in the future.”
Justin Simmons, Shelby Harris remain top priorities
A current theme through both Paton and coach Vic Fangio's press conferences Thursday was the importance of bringing back key defensive players, safety Justin Simmons and defensive lineman Shelby Harris.
Simmons has been one of the biggest talking points this offseason for the Broncos, having come off a career year in which he played on the franchise tag. Simmons could be franchise tagged again this season, with the deadline to do so being March 9. But it seems like a long-term deal with Simmons may be imminent and that's certainly something the Broncos want.
“Justin is one of our core guys," Paton said. "Our goal since I got here was to sign him to a long-term deal. So we have had good discussions with his agent. ... I don't know if we will get a deal done or not, but that's the goal.”
Harris is another player Paton and Fangio stressed the importance of keeping, after he looked poised to have the best season of his career before missing several games due to COVID.
"We’d love to have Shelby back," Paton said. "He's a priority.”
Ja'Wuan James expected to be back next season
Maybe the biggest question mark on the Broncos' roster heading into 2021 is whether or not starting right tackle Ja'Wuan James will return after opting out last year.
From all indications Thursday, it appears James will be back next season, with Paton saying he's had a "good discussion" with James and "he’s ready to go."
"He's ready to go. He's excited to come back," Fangio said. "We’re counting on and anticipating him being part of our team next year."
Melvin Gordon's future is up in the air
Of the many players' futures that Paton discussed Thursday, none seemed more up in the air than running back Melvin Gordon's.
Gordon is pleading not guilty to a DUI arrest in December and has a pre-trial hearing April 2 and jury trial April 8. This could play a major role in Gordon's future with the Broncos. If he's found guilty and is suspended by the NFL to begin 2021, the Broncos could essentially void his contract and move on from him, or sign him to a cheaper deal.
But the Broncos can't make any decisions until Gordon's trial.
“We’re gathering information. It’s kind of out of our hands. It’s in the league’s hands," Paton said. "It’s a legal process. He is a good football player. Not sure what is going to happen with him, but we like him as a player.”
Talks with Kareem Jackson have been 'positive'
Another player whose future in Denver is uncertain is veteran safety Kareem Jackson, who is entering a contract year with a club option of $10 million.
Paton said Jackson's and Simmons' futures don't necessarily connect in terms of wanting to keep them together, but he did make it clear they would like to keep Jackson, who is the most experienced player in the secondary.
"I’ve spoken with Kareem and I’ve spoken with his agent Jason Chayut," Paton said. "We have to work through some things, but we’ve had positive conversations. We would like Kareem back. He’s a good football player and a good leader. We’ll see if we can do that.”