ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Denver Broncos are trading star-crossed pass rusher Bradley Chubb to Miami for a package that includes the Dolphins' first-round draft pick next year.
The Broncos (3-5) also get running back Chase Edmonds and a 2024 fourth-rounder from the Dolphins (5-3), who are getting a 2025 fifth-rounder from Denver.
Chubb's departure comes a year after the Broncos traded franchise sacks leader Von Miller, who helped the Rams win the Super Bowl in February before signing with the Buffalo Bills this offseason.
“Decisions like this are not easy,” GM George Paton said after a record-setting dozen players were dealt on NFL trade deadline day. “... but ultimately we always have to do what’s best for the team. And we don’t make this decision if we’re not confident in the players and the coaches on this team.”
Paton said the depth at edge rusher was strong enough for him to part with Chubb, and "the draft value was significant. We just believed it was too good to pass up at the end of the day. And it’s no secret we need picks. It’s going to help us continue to build our football team.”
The Broncos went 3-6 after Miller's exit and Paton said he wanted fans and players alike to know this is no surrender.
“We believe in this football team,” Paton said. “We believe in our leadership. We believe in our depth.”
He also believes his lurching offense is going to come around.
Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler also were coveted by other teams, but Paton chose to keep his receiving group intact as the team tries to develop more chemistry on offense.
“We wanted to keep our young, talented receivers," Paton said. "We started to get some rhythm in our last game versus Jacksonville and we just feel good about where we're going. We're trending in the right direction with Jeudy and Hamler and Courtland (Sutton) and we didn't want to break that up.”
Paton worked out a secondary deal in acquiring fifth-year pass rusher Jacob Martin from the New York Jets in a trade that included an exchange of 2024 draft picks with the Broncos giving up a fourth-rounder and the Jets a fifth-rounder.
The first-round pick Paton obtained in the Chubb trade is the one that the Dolphins acquired from San Francisco that allowed the 49ers to move up and draft quarterback Trey Lance in 2021.
The Dolphins forfeited their own 2023 first-round selection and a third-round selection in the 2024 draft after an NFL investigation found that Miami violated the league’s anti-tampering policy regarding communication with Tom Brady.
Chubb was the fifth overall pick in the 2018 draft, a key part of Denver's stellar defense and a locker room leader, although some Broncos fans still smart over John Elway's bypassing of Wyoming QB Josh Allen, who went two picks later to Buffalo.
Chubb has 5½ sacks this season — although none in the past three weeks — and a pair of forced fumbles after coming off his first fully healthy offseason since his rookie year when he had a career-best 12 sacks playing alongside Miller.
With the Broncos (3-5) off to a bad start under the Nathaniel Hackett-Russell Wilson coupling, Paton found more value in what he could get for Chubb in next April's draft than in the production he'd get from the former North Carolina State star over the next nine games.
Even if the Broncos' record were flipped, Paton said, “we would have made the trade regardless. We just felt the value was too good. ... Moving forward, we have other holes to fill on the offensive side of the ball.”
Paton had traded away his first- and second-round picks this year and next in the blockbuster deal that brought Wilson over from Seattle last spring.
By avoiding the megadeal on the horizon had he kept Chubb, Paton now has the financial flexibility to re-sign rising defensive line star Dre'Mont Jones to a big extension. “He is one of our core players," Paton said. “We want him here a long time."
Chubb said last week that the speculation he was a top trade target was “kind of cool,” in that “it lets you know that I’m playing good ball where other teams notice it as well.” But he added that he preferred to stay “in Denver long term. I've got my house. I got everything. I'm comfortable.”
Chubb is making nearly $14 million on his fifth-year option this season. But his career features almost as many missed games (25) as sacks (26).
He missed most of last season following surgeries on both ankles to remove bone spurs and didn't have a single sack in seven games upon his return. He also missed most of 2019 with a torn ACL, but bounced back in 2020 with a Pro Bowl season.
Chubb's departure comes at a time the Broncos are hurting in the pass rush department with Randy Gregory (knee) and Baron Browning (wrist) on IR. Paton said Gregory probably won't be ready to return for Denver's next game, at Tennessee on Nov. 13.
AP Sports Writer Alanis Thames and AP Pro Football Writer Dennis Waszak Jr. contributed to this report.
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL