Broncos add a seven-year veteran to their inside linebacker corps

Jun 13, 2024, 11:02 AM | Updated: 11:04 am

The Broncos didn’t wait long after mandatory minicamp to add to their roster.

Thursday, they decided to add inside linebacker Andre Smith, a seven-year veteran of four NFL teams, most recently the Atlanta Falcons. Jordan Schultz was first to report the move on the social-media platform formerly and more widely known as Twitter.

Smith spent the first two seasons of his career (2018-19) with the Carolina Panthers, sticking with them after being a seventh-round pick. He subsequently moved on to Buffalo and Tennessee before joining Atlanta, where he played a career-high 112 defensive snaps, logging 19 total tackles and a forced fumble.

A North Carolina product, the 27-year-old Andre Smith has played in 62 games over the length of his career. He made the only start of his NFL tenure for the Falcons in a Week 14 game against Tampa Bay last December.


Andre Smith would provide another layer of experienced depth to the inside-linebacker room, which saw Jonas Griffith, Cody Barton and Justin Strnad among those rotating alongside returning starter Alex Singleton, the team’s leading tackler in each of the last two seasons. Rookie Levelle Bailey is also in the mix, Payton noted during offseason work. All are vying to replace Josey Jewell.

Singleton is expected to wear a helmet with a radio receiver — colloquially called the “green dot” in reference to the green sticker affixed to the helmet — making him the primary relay for defensive play calls from coordinator Vance Joseph.

But Smith’s primary role is likely to be on special teams, where he’s averaged 18.2 snaps per game over his career. He’s been a core special-teamer at each of his NFL stops.

Smith’s potential to make the team is part of a larger set of considerations in roster construction. As Broncos coach Sean Payton and special-teams coordinator Ben Kotwica both noted recently, the body types of special-teams players could be changing to accommodate the new kickoff rules, which call for a standing start, far less ground to cover and no players moving until the ball is received.

This could favor linebackers, tight ends and, as Payton pointed out, even offensive linemen.

“You’ll see, I think, offensive linemen in that protecting front line, because that’s a group that’s hard to get,” Payton said. “Aside from field goal, it’s hard to get reps.

“But I think we’re starting with a bigger group, a bigger picture, and then working our way down rather than trying to guess and narrow, who we think those candidates are.”


Peyton Manning Zach Wilson...

Andrew Mason

Peyton Manning could be set to promote flag football at Olympics

Peyton Manning might be adding another role to his work at the Summer Olympics in Paris -- promoting flag football.

20 hours ago

Broncos edge rusher Nik Bonitto...

Andrew Mason

Could Broncos find an edge-rushing alpha in Nik Bonitto?

The Broncos have a solid collection of edge rushers, but they haven't had a double-digit sacker since 2018. Nik Bonitto could change that.

1 day ago

Justin Simmons...

Will Petersen

Justin Simmons is still looking for a job, but has good perspective

"It's caused me to slow down and give up control, because it's not in my control," Justin Simmons said at his inaugural golf classic

2 days ago

Broncos Mount Rushmore...

Will Petersen

NFL reveals its Mount Rushmore for the Denver Broncos, is it right?

The NFL went with John Elway, Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe and Von Miller for the Broncos Mount Rushmore, four worthy candidates

2 days ago

Nathaniel Hackett...

Andrew Mason

Nathaniel Hackett believes his second post-Broncos season will be ‘all kinds of different’

Former Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett believes his second season out after leaving the Broncos will be far better than his first.

2 days ago

Jarrett Stidham...

Will Petersen

Broncos head coach Sean Payton can’t fall for Jarrett Stidham trap

Sean Payton can't start "leader" Jarrett Stidham because it'd be popular in the locker room; he needs to do the best thing for the franchise

2 days ago

Broncos add a seven-year veteran to their inside linebacker corps