Cornerback Bryce Callahan rounds out Pro Football Network’s Top 50 2022 free agents list, and depending on whom you ask, he’s either ranked too high or too low. In terms of ability (and his stats), Callahan is probably underrated. But in terms of availability, he might be rated too high.
Bryce Callahan Free Agency Overview
Callahan’s health has been a big concern throughout his career, particularly during the three years he spent with the Denver Broncos. He appeared in just 21 games — starting 16 — during his time with Denver. That’s on top of the 19 games he missed in his four years with the Chicago Bears. It’s not hard to understand, then, why Callahan is outside the top 10 in PFN’s list of best available defensive backs.
Recapping Callahan’s 2021 season
Callahan missed six games, including five straight during a stint on injured reserve, after suffering a non-contact knee injury in November and then catching COVID-19 in December. But when healthy, he was more than a solid contributor to a talented Broncos defensive backfield. Callahan allowed just 56.8% of passes thrown in his coverage area to be completed.
Opposing quarterbacks did feel emboldened to challenge him deep. His average depth of target was 11.3 yards, and he allowed 14.1 yards per completion. But Callahan still gave up just 1 touchdown on 37 targets. In his NFL career, Callahan has 6 interceptions and 29 passes defensed.
Callahan’s contract estimate and salary cap implications
Callahan just wrapped up a three-year, $21 million pact with the Broncos after earning just $3.4 million in his first four NFL seasons — all spent with the Bears. That, of course, was a function of him going undrafted out of Rice. Now on the wrong side of 30, Callahan is probably looking at his last real payday.
Considering his age and injury history, that payday probably won’t be huge. Yet, given the premium the NFL puts on cornerbacks, it’s not hard to envision a team deciding to give him a short-term deal in the neighborhood of $5-6 million annually.
Will that team be the Broncos, who have a new coach in Nathaniel Hackett? Their secondary depth could take a hit this offseason, with both Callahan and Kyle Fuller expected to become free agents. With nearly $40 million in cap space, the Broncos have plenty of money to retain Callahan, if that’s their desire.
Possible landing spots for Callahan
Depending on the price Callahan is willing to accept, much of the league would be open to adding, at the very least, a No. 4 CB to their roster. When healthy, he’s a more than capable nickel cornerback and would benefit any cornerback-needy team. That list includes the 49ers, Bills, Cardinals, Eagles, Jets, Patriots, and Vikings.
Of that group, the Vikings, Bills, and Cardinals have the least cap space and might be willing to take a flier on a distressed asset. It’s too bad Vic Fangio decided to take a year off from coaching. He absolutely loves Callahan, even with his spotty medical history.
What they’re saying about Callahan
“Bryce is a damn good football player.” — Former Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio