DENVER (AP) – Darian Stewart proclaimed himself the “final piece of the puzzle” when he joined Denver’s “No Fly Zone” secondary last year.
On Saturday, he solidified that standing with a four-year extension that runs through 2020. The NFL Network said it was worth $28 million with $17.5 million guaranteed.
“Thrilled he’ll be a Bronco for 4 more yrs!” tweeted general manager John Elway , who lauded the “physicality, leadership & toughness” the free safety brings to Denver’s defense.
Stewart expressed his gratitude in an Instagram post with the message: “4 more years! #Blessed”
Stewart has 107 tackles, four interceptions, 13 pass breakups and three fumble recoveries with the Broncos. He’s coming off one of his best games, a three-takeaway performance at New Orleans that prompted coach Gary Kubiak to say how proud – and relieved – he was of Stewart’s development in Denver.
When Elway was looking for Rahim Moore’s replacement, Kubiak recommended Stewart. They had gotten to know each other during their one year together in Baltimore in 2014. Although Kubiak coordinated the Ravens’ offense and didn’t directly coach Stewart, he took note of how the safety with the steady demeanor studied his team’s offense after finishing his defensive drills.
“Obviously I’m on the other side of the ball, but I always respected how he practiced and how he worked,” Kubiak said last week. “When you’re a coach and you go to a new organization and you stand up for somebody, you sure as hell hope you’re right. I told John that I thought he’d really fit in. He’s a good kid and loves to play. Just watching him every day has been fun to see.”
Stewart is the third defensive starter to sign an in-season extension with the Broncos since 2014, joining Harris and Derek Wolfe.
– By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Sports Writer
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