Heading into free agency, ESPN.com ranked Risner as the 36th-best free agent in the NFL.
With high expectations that the Colorado native would sign with a new team early on, that wasn’t the case. Instead, Risner had to wait for the right offer and found himself a job heading into Week 3 of the NFL season.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Risner is signing a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings.
Per Mike Klis of 9News in Denver, Risner’s deal is worth $4 million with $2.25 million guaranteed.
As Risner joins the Vikings, he will reunite with his former offensive line coach, Chris Kuper who coached Risner for three seasons.
“It’s fair to say this wasn’t the best market for offensive linemen, for guards,’’ Risner told Klis. “But one thing I’m proud of is I made sure to find the right deal with the right team with the right coaches. I love coach Kuper. I love coach [Kevin] O’Connell. I went on a visit there and we started our relationship there.”
“We really just wanted to bring him in and get to know him a little better. Use the process of the visit to do that and see if we can possibly take what we think is a strong group and make it even better,” Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell said on August 1.
Risner’s Time in Denver
While playing high school football in Wiggins, Colorado, Risner grew up a huge Broncos fan with the dream of one day playing for the orange and blue.
After playing college football at Kansas St., Risner was selected by the Broncos in the second-round of the NFL Draft just one pick before Denver selected quarterback Drew Lock.
While playing center and right tackle in college, the Broncos moved Risner to left guard and was named the opening day starter next to left tackle Garett Bolles.
During his four seasons with the Broncos, Risner started every game that he played in and only missed four games. In the 62 games that Risner has played in, he’s given up 10 total sacks including 2020 where he didn’t give up a single sack, per Pro Football Focus.
Risner also told Klis that he has been watching the Broncos this season as they own an 0-2 record.
“Yes, I’ve been watching. I have mixed feelings about the situation but there’s a lot of guys on that team that I love. There’s a lot of things about that organization that I’m grateful for. I want them to succeed. There’s a lot of people in Denver I love and I would never wish anything badly.”
The Broncos will host the Vikings on Sunday Night Football on November 19.
Denver’s Offensive Line has Struggled in 2023
In the offseason, the Broncos went out and spent nearly $80 million in guaranteed money on Ben Powers and Mike McGlinchey to improve one of the team’s worst offensive lines in franchise history.
The Broncos gave up 63.0 sacks in 2022 which tied the franchise record for most sacks allowed in a season dating back to 1963. This made the Broncos realize that they needed to upgrade at left guard and right tackle.
Through Denver’s first two games of the season, the offensive line has not helped the struggling offense as they’ve given up nine sacks. Those nine sacks rank third-most in the NFL.
Powers and McGlinchey are both better run blockers compared to pass protectors, but the Broncos don’t seem to want to run the ball with their struggling offense.
So far, the Broncos have had quarterback Russell Wilson throw the ball 66 times and have run the ball just 36 times with their running backs.
In those 36 times running the ball, Denver is averaging 4.1 yards per carry, but have scored just one touchdown.
If the Broncos want to improve their offense and be more balanced, they must run the ball to help take a load off Wilson and get into the win column.
Kevin Kissner covers the Denver Broncos for Heavy.com. A Colorado native, he has covered the Denver sports pro scene since 2012. His work and voice have been featured on Denver’s 104.3 FM The Fan, 98.5 KYGO and WoodyPaige.com. More about Kevin Kissner
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