Not only does the list of former Boise State football players in the NFL continue to grow, the trend also has meant an increase in top-level talents who are former Broncos — and two guys coming off their rookie deals are due to cash in.
Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is rated as the NFL’s No. 1 free agent by Pro Football Talk, and center Matt Paradis ranked 16th on the site’s top 100 list. Former Boise State safety George Iloka is 82nd. Free agency begins March 13.
Lawrence and Paradis were drafted in 2014, each spending their entire careers thus far with the teams that drafted them — the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos, respectively.
In his first three seasons, Lawrence had nine sacks, but he followed up a huge, 14.5-sack year in 2017 with 10.5 this past season. According to Sports Illustrated, he likely will get a contract with a team comparable to J.J. Watt or Chandler Jones, who each make about $16 million per year. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently said there is no discord between the team and Lawrence, that the team still hopes to re-sign him.
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Paradis is an interesting case, as centers don’t usually command big contracts, but he is regarded as one of the league’s best at the position and the most consistent member of Denver’s line. He broke a leg in the Broncos’ ninth game of the season but had played 3,850 consecutive snaps before the injury. According to Spotrac, 10 centers average $7.5 million per season. Pro Football Focus ranked him as its No. 3 center of the 2018 season.
A handful of other Broncos are poised to become free agents, including running back Jay Ajayi, cornerback Orlando Scandrick and running back Doug Martin.