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Broncos miss out on top target D.J. Reader

Denver makes bold bid, but Bengals land tackle
Posted at 3:23 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 17:38:05-04

DENVER -- Teams don't reveal their offseason priorities. Sometimes they can be gleaned when examining deficiencies. However, they don't openly discuss specific plans.

Had the Broncos, the road map would have looked like this:

--Land a cornerback through trade at a reasonable salary and acquisition price. Welcome, A.J. Bouye, whose arrival becomes official Wednesday.
--Address the interior of the offensive line. The Broncos signed guard Graham Glasgow to a four-year, $44 million deal with $26 million guaranteed.
--Get younger, bigger and better on the defensive line.

The latter remains unfulfilled as the Cincinnati Bengals nosed out Denver for defensive tackle D.J. Reader. Tuesday, Cincinnati landed Reader with a four-year, $53 million deal, per The Houston Chronicle. The Broncos offered roughly $12 million a year. Denver also showed interest in Jarran Reed before he returned to Seattle.

Reader, 25, would have filled a glaring need. Not only is Reader a solid run-stuffer, he has proven disruptive in the passing game. He posted 2.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hits last season in Houston. At 6-foot-3, 347 pounds, Reader would have brought reliability, having missed three games in three seasons, while making 45 starts. Good health has been a theme in offseason additions after the ghost seasons from free agents Bryce Callahan (foot) and Ja'Wuan James (knee) a year ago.

Options remain along the defensive line, including Michael Pierce, Brandon Williams and Danny Shelton. It remains to be seen if the Broncos will shift their attention to in-house free agents Derek Wolfe and Shelby Harris. Harris and Wolfe are drawing interest from other teams. Wolfe, in particular, has continued to keep the door open to returning. He has made no secret about his desire to retire a Bronco.