ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With seven linebackers on injured reserve as well as two more linebackers who might be limited in practice next week, the Denver Broncos acquired Stephen Weatherly from the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday.
The Broncos sent a seventh-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft to acquire Weatherly and a seventh-round pick in the 2023 draft.
Weatherly, a 6-foot-5, 262-pound outside linebacker, has played sparingly on defense for the Vikings this season (his 29 snaps in Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals was his season high on defense), but he has been a special teams regular.
Weatherly does give the Broncos more size at the position, something they’ve struggled with, in particular, since Bradley Chubb (ankle) went to injured reserve earlier this season. The Broncos also put linebacker Micah Kiser (groin) on injured reserve Saturday, and he became the seventh linebacker the team has put on IR in the past six weeks.
Linebackers Von Miller (ankle) and Curtis Robinson (thumb, wrist) were also injured against the Cleveland Browns this past Thursday night and could be limited when the team returns to the practice field Tuesday. Robinson, who was on the Broncos’ practice squad before Thursday’s game, was already playing because Kiser, who had replaced the injured Alexander Johnson, was injured in the first quarter against the Browns.
In the end, the Browns overwhelmed the Broncos’ front seven on defense with 182 yards rushing, including 52 yards on Cleveland’s final possession to run out the last 5 minutes, 12 seconds of the game when the Broncos needed a defensive stop to get the ball back in a 17-14 loss.
Chubb, Kiser, Johnson, Josey Jewell, Aaron Patrick, Jonas Griffith and Andre Mintze are the team’s linebackers who have gone to injured reserve since the start of the regular season. Chubb, Johnson and Jewell were all starters when the season opened, and Chubb was named to his first Pro Bowl last season.
Weatherly was a Vikings seventh-round draft pick in 2016 when Broncos general manager George Paton was Minnesota’s assistant general manager.
When Broncos coach Vic Fangio was asked Friday if the team would have to add some help at linebacker before the league’s trade deadline Nov. 2, he said: “George and his staff are looking at that.”