Ahead of Wednesday’s deadline to offer one-year contracts to restricted free agents, the Broncos on Monday tendered running back Phillip Lindsay at the right-of-first-refusal level, a source confirmed.
The right-of-first-refusal contract is worth $2.183 million; if the Broncos decline to match a signed Lindsay offer sheet, they will receive no draft-pick compensation.
Also on Monday night, the Broncos declined the 2021 contract option for safety Kareem Jackson, making him a free agent. The move creates $7,117,647 of immediate salary cap space. A source said the Broncos and Jackson talked about a re-structured contract, but an agreement could not be reached.
Jackson’s departure creates a gaping hole at safety alongside Justin Simmons. The in-house options are Trey Marshall and P.J. Locke.
Had the Broncos exercised Jackson’s option, he would have guaranteed only $1.5 million of his $10 million base salary. It’s likely the Broncos were concerned about a potential Jackson injury or decline in play that would have cost them his entire salary.
Jackson, who turns 33 on April 10, had 160 tackles and three interceptions in 29 games for the Broncos.
Lindsay might also be on his way out after the Broncos declined to offer a first- or second-round tender for 2021, which would have triggered draft-pick compensation.
Lindsay, who played at Denver South and Colorado, posted consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons for the Broncos (1,037 in 2018 and 1,011 in ‘19). Early in the 2020 offseason, the Broncos appeared open to a contract extension, but the club quickly pivoted and signed Melvin Gordon to a two-year deal last March.
The Broncos envisioned a tandem of Lindsay and Gordon in 2020. But Lindsay sustained a turf toe in the Week 1 loss to Tennessee (missed three games), a concussion in the Week 7 loss to Kansas City (missed second half of game) and a nagging knee injury that forced the Broncos to shut him down for the final two games.
In 11 games, Lindsay rushed 118 times for 502 yards and one touchdown. Under contract at running back are Gordon, Royce Freeman, LeVante Bellamy and Damarea Crockett.
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