DENVER -- Matt Paradis is an Iron Man. But will he still be The Man on the Broncos offensive line?
Paradis played 3,850 consecutive snaps before fracturing his right fibula on Nov. 4 against Houston. It was an ugly injury with poor timing. Paradis, who has consistently graded out as one of the league's top centers by Pro Football Focus, is an unrestricted free agent. The former sixth-round pick from Boise State continues to recover ahead of schedule. He no longer requires a boot, and is walking well, he told Denver7 on Wednesday.
"Honestly, it feels great," said Paradis, a team captain and former Ed Block courage award winner for playing through hip pain two years ago that was relieved with surgery. "I am making some great strides."
Paradis boasts elite football IQ and draws high marks as a technician and leader at the line of scrimmage. Denver wants him back but is willing to let him test free agency that begins next month. The sides talked prior to the season but no deal was struck. Ryan Jensen, a former CSU-Pueblo and Fort Morgan star, set the center market last spring, signing a four-year deal with Tampa Bay averaging $10.5 million per season with $22 million guaranteed.
If Paradis finds similar interest on the open market, it appears unlikely the Broncos would get into a bidding war. When Paradis went down with injury, Connor McGovern took over. He played well in spurts, but admittedly struggled with calls in a loss at San Francisco.
The Broncos face uncertainty at several offensive line positions with right tackle Jared Veldheer a free agent along with the versatile Billy Turner. The Broncos have talked with Turner's agent recently, and would like to sign him before he hits free agency. Veldheer could return, but the Broncos could gauge his market as well. Guard Ron Leary ruptured his Achilles, and will not pass a physical. He will return as his contract his guaranteed for injury, leaving Denver to hope he recovers fully this offseason.