DENVER — The Denver Broncos made an effort on Thursday to bolster their defensive line, a unit that also lost a familiar face Thursday.
That effort was personified in Vance Walker. The free agent defensive lineman signed a two-year deal with the Broncos Thursday, which was expected to be valued at $4 million.
The team referred to Walker as a defensive end, which is an important distinction considering Terrance Knighton, a standout defensive tackle for the Broncos the past two seasons, signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Washington Redskins late Thursday afternoon.
Though several teams expressed interest in Knighton during the early days of the free agenccy period, which began Tuesday, the 335-pounder’s salary demands and weight reportedly gave several of his potential suitors pause.
There’s also the fact that the Broncos will be shifting from a 4-3 to 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Regardless of how Knighton may or may not have fit into the that scheme, the team suggested Walker would be a great fit as a five-technique defensive end.
Walker began his career playing in a 3-4 defense with the Atlanta Falcons, and also played in the same scheme with the Kansas City Chiefs a season ago, logging two sacks and 19 tackles as part of the team’s defensive rotation.
A classic overachiever, Walker was taken in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL draft, and has forged himself into a serviceable contributor over the course of seven seasons — his best coming with the Oakland Raiders in 2013, when he logged 40 tackles and three sacks.
Walker signed with the Broncos after a visit to Dove Valley Thursday. The team also reportedly had free agent safety Darian Stewart, previously of the Minnesota Vikings, in for a visit on Thursday.
Considering they lost Rahim Moore to the Houston Texans on Thursday, pursuing a safety could be the next step for the Broncos in free agency, a period that will die down significantly after this coming weekend.
Moore had started at least seven games in each of his four seasons with the Broncos, and bounced back in 2014 after an acute lateral compartment syndrome diagnosis cut his 2013 season sort. Moore signed a 3-year, $12 million contract with the Texans.