DENVER -- Broncos cornerback A.J. Bouye was suspended for the use of performance-enhancing drugs, the NFL announced Wednesday.
Bouye's case appears connected to the same issue that led to six games bans for Houston Texans cornerback Bradley Roby and receiver Will Fuller. Fuller and Roby announced on social media last month that they would serve their suspensions and not appeal.
For Bouye, it marks the potential end to his first and possible last season with the Broncos. Bouye appealed, and it was denied.
"A.J. Bouye of the Denver Broncos has been suspended without pay for the next six games of the regular season or postseason for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances. He will be able to participate in offseason and preseason practices and games," NFL said in a statement.
Broncos coach Vic Fangio said Bouye let him know a few weeks ago that he could be suspended. Fangio appreciated the heads-up, but admitted it has been a "choppy season" for Bouye.
"Obviously something went wrong with a person he dealt with and trusted," Fangio said. "It's disappointing for everybody."
Acquired in the offseason to replace popular veteran Chris Harris, Bouye injured his shoulder in the season opener, and missed the next four games. He then sat out against the Atlanta Falcons as he advanced through the concussion protocol from a friendly fire hit by safety Kareem Jackson.
In seven starts, Bouye has 23 tackles and zero interceptions. He showed flashes of why the Broncos thought he could revive his career after struggling in Jacksonville following a 2017 Pro Bowl berth. However, the injuries kept him from gaining any momentum.
Bouye, who turns 30 in August, was scheduled to make $13 million this season and next. However, he has no guaranteed money remaining on his contract, so the Broncos could move on from the veteran without impacting the salary cap.
Bouye's absence arrives at an awful time. Starting cornerback Bryce Callahan will sit out the next two games, minimum, with a foot injury. And rookie Essang Bassey, who was used in nickel and dime packages, tore his ACL in a non-contact play on Sunday against the Chiefs.
That leaves rookie Michael Ojemudia and De'Vante Bausby as potential starters this week against Carolina. The Broncos added versatile defensive back Will Parks last week, and he could help provide depth in sub-packages at safety and corner along with Kevin Toliver and Duke Dawson.
It has been a mess of injuries and COVID-19-related absences for the Broncos. Bouye and Jurrell Casey, the top offseason additions, have played in 10 of the potential 24 games. Casey was lost for the season after tearing his biceps tendon. Receiver Courtland Sutton played one game before tearing his ACL, Von Miller has yet to appear after suffering a dislocated ankle tendon before the opener, Mike Purcell sustained a Lisfranc foot injury, limiting him to six games, and Shelby Harris missed four games and Graham Glasgow two while on the COVID-19 restricted list.
Injuries and ineffectiveness have conspired to leave the Broncos with a 4-8 record. They lost for the 11th straight time against the Chiefs, tying their longest streak set in 1969, and secured their fourth straight year without a winning record.