It’s hard for a left tackle to become the ire of a fanbase.
Garett Bolles did it. Through constant holding penalties and mediocre play, Bolles became a household name with Denver Broncos fans. The Broncos expected a lot more when they drafted Bolles in the first round of the 2017 draft.
It wasn’t much of a surprise when the Broncos announced on Friday that they wouldn’t pick up the fifth-year option for Bolles.
Broncos general manager John Elway has not had a great track record with first-round picks. Of Elway’s first six first-round picks, Bolles is the fourth who didn’t get the fifth-year option, joining Paxton Lynch, Shane Ray and Sylvester Williams.
Garett Bolles will fight for his job
The Broncos’ decision on Friday doesn’t affect Bolles in 2020. He’s still under contract. He can just become a free agent after this season, instead of the Broncos retaining his rights for another year.
Bolles will have a chance to boost his value this year before he becomes a free agent. The Broncos have said Bolles will compete with fourth-year tackle Elijah Wilkinson for the left tackle job in training camp.
Perhaps the competition and the team declining Bolles’ fifth-year option will light a fire under him. Bolles has been a starter for all 48 games with the Broncos but he has not played at a high level. His regular holding penalties have become frustrating to Broncos fans.
Bolles still has a chance to prove himself, but he needs to pick up his play this season.
Others have had fifth-year option declined
Bolles isn’t the first 2017 first-round pick to not get the fifth-year option exercised. Two of the top five picks of the draft have been officially declined, and two others could have their options declined.
That doesn’t mean a player can’t still rebound. The most notable case was Kyle Fuller. The Chicago Bears cornerback had his option declined, played very well his fourth season and ended up with a four-year, $56 million extension before the 2018 season.
The same could happen with Bolles. He could make the Broncos look bad for declining his option. But the clock is ticking.
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