Broncos continue upgrades by signing special teams ace
By ARNIE STAPLETON
After fortifying their offensive and defensive lines with splashy moves earlier this week, the Denver Broncos turned their attention to upgrading their special teams Wednesday when they agreed to a two-year deal with cornerback Tremon Smith worth up to $5.5 million.
Smith, 26, who has played for the Chiefs, Colts and Texans, has averaged nearly 25 yards on 94 kick returns over his five-year NFL career. The Broncos were last in the league at 17.5 yards last season when rookie Montrell Washington averaged 18.9 yards on 18 kickoff returns.
Smith also provides depth at cornerback for the Broncos, who parted ways with veteran Ronald Darby and didn't tender Essang Bassey.
The Broncos have been among the league's most active teams in free agency under new head coach Sean Payton and in the new Walton-Penner ownership group's first offseason.
The Broncos have guaranteed nearly $140 million in salaries to nine free agents this week: right tackle Mike McGlinchey, defensive end Zach Allen, left guard Ben Powers, inside linebacker Alex Singleton, tight end Chris Manhertz, backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham, running back Samaje Perine, backup fullback Mike Burton and Smith ($2.5 million).
Burton, who receives a one-year, $1.3 million deal, is a ninth-year pro who spent the past two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs after playing in 2020 for Payton in New Orleans. He replaces Andrew Beck, who agreed to a two-year, $6.25 million deal Monday with the Houston Texans.
Free agency officially started Wednesday with the start of the league's new year.
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Updated March 15, 2023