Broncos acquire Jets DE John Franklin-Myers

ByJeff Legwold ESPN logo
Sunday, April 28, 2024

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It turned out all of those conversations the Denver Broncos had in recent weeks with the New York Jets weren't just about quarterback Zach Wilson.

The Broncos stayed busy on Day 3 of the draft Saturday as they acquired defensive end John Franklin-Myers from the Jets for a 2026 sixth-round pick.

Franklin-Myers, who was the Los Angeles Rams' fourth-round selection in the 2018 draft and joined the Jets in 2019 after the Rams had waived him, will quickly be in the mix to start at defensive end in the Broncos' 3-4 look, opposite of Zach Allen.

Franklin-Myers was slated to be in the third year of a four-year, $55 million extension he signed in 2021. He was scheduled to make $29 million over the next two years.

The Jets decided to move on from Franklin-Myers after acquiring pass-rusher Haason Reddick in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles. Three weeks ago, the Jets gave Franklin-Myers permission to speak with teams about a trade, a source told ESPN.

The Broncos showed immediate interest. The Broncos and Franklin-Myers came to a contract agreement relatively quickly -- a two-year deal, $15 million contract that includes $10 million fully guaranteed, a source told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

Jets general manager Joe Douglas said Saturday that the Reddick acquisition was the driving force behind the decision to trade Franklin-Myers, noting "it was next to impossible to keep JFM at his salary." There were talks with Franklin-Myers' agent about reworking his deal, but "the gap was too far for us to bridge," Douglas said.

The deal almost got blown up Friday night when the Jets traded a draft pick that was supposed to be included in the package to Denver, a source said. The Jets were prepared to send Franklin-Myers and a 2024 fifth-rounder to Denver, which had agreed to send an undisclosed draft pick to the Jets to complete the trade.

As it turned out, the Jets used that fifth-rounder on Friday night, sending it to the Carolina Panthers to trade up in the third round for wide receiver Malachi Corley. At that point, the Jets and Broncos had to rework the trade agreement, with the two teams eventually settling on a 2026 sixth-rounder going to the Jets.

This was a money-saving and cap-clearing move by the Jets. After inheriting Reddick's $15 million salary for 2024, they didn't want to pay Franklin-Myers' $13.3 million salary. From a cap perspective, the Jets cleared $7.3 million and will get stuck with a $9.1 million dead charge this year.

Franklin-Myers was one of the Jets' best linemen. He was a three-year starter who played every down, outside and inside, and recorded 13.5 sacks over the past three years. As a rookie, Franklin-Myers played on a Super Bowl team for the Rams.

Douglas called it a "difficult" trade because Franklin-Myers was a popular player and a durable starter. Coach Robert Saleh echoed that sentiment, saying Franklin-Myers "will be sorely missed." At end, the Jets now have starters Reddick and Jermaine Johnson, with backups Will McDonald and Micheal Clemons.

Payton and general manager George Paton have lamented since the Broncos' 8-9 finish this past season about the team's need to defend the run better. The Broncos finished 30th in the league in run defense last season and were 20th in the league in sacks per pass attempt.

The Broncos surrendered at least 170 yards rushing in six games last season, including 350 yards rushing in a Week 2 loss in Miami.

ESPN's Rich Cimini contributed to this report.

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