3 Denver Broncos defensive free agents who won’t be back in 2022

Denver Broncos offseason; Detroit Lions wide receiver Kalif Raymond (11) is pushed out of bounds by Denver Broncos cornerback Kyle Fuller (23) in the second quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos offseason; Detroit Lions wide receiver Kalif Raymond (11) is pushed out of bounds by Denver Broncos cornerback Kyle Fuller (23) in the second quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /
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Denver Broncos
DeShawn Williams #90, Caden Sterns #30 and Alexander Johnson #45 of the Denver Broncos celebrate after Sterns sacked quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens in the second half of the game at Empower Field At Mile High on October 03, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images) /

The Denver Broncos have a number of big-name free agents on the defensive side of the ball in 2022. Here are three that won’t likely be back.

The Denver Broncos have moved on from Vic Fangio and they’ve hired former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as their new head coach, the 18th head coach in team history.

With Fangio out of the building, it will be fascinating to see how general manager George Paton approaches the team’s free agents on the defensive side of the ball. The Denver Broncos are expected to bring in a defensive coordinator like Los Angeles Rams defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator that could preserve the Fangio defensive scheme, in a way, so perhaps the team’s defensive free agents aren’t really in that big of trouble.

Which defensive free agents for the Denver Broncos will be gone in 2022?

So without Vic Fangio and his staff, what defensive free agents are not likely going to be back in 2022? Let’s take a look.

1. Alexander Johnson, LB

Although Alexander Johnson wasn’t drafted specifically to play in Vic Fangio’s scheme, he emerged as a full-time starter in it back in the 2019 season.

Johnson was basically given a redshirt year by Vance Joseph’s staff in the 2018 season and it appeared as though he almost didn’t really have a shot at sticking with Fangio after he barely made the 53-man roster that offseason.

Four games into the season, Johnson was inserted into the lineup, and he became one of the more productive linebackers in the NFL over the remainder of the 2019 season.

By 2020, Johnson was the unquestioned LB1 with the Broncos and he had another productive year, but wasn’t quite as impactful as he had shown in 2019.

In 2021, Johnson once again entered the season as a starter for the Denver Broncos before tearing his pectoral six games into the season.

Johnson is a big-bodied linebacker who has pretty solid range and is decent in his coverage abilities when dropping in zone. He’s most effective attacking the line of scrimmage against the run and as a blitzer, a skill that has really been unlocked in recent years.

With the emergence of 2021 rookie Baron Browning, I think the Broncos will let Johnson hit the open market.