Acknowledging their need for inside linebacker depth and special teams contributors, the Broncos acquired Austin Calitro from the Cincinnati Bengals on Friday for defensive lineman Christian Covington, according to a source.
Calitro could be the Broncos’ choice as their fourth inside linebacker instead of Joe Jones and Josh Watson, a decision that must be made by Saturday’s 2 p.m. cutdown deadline.
Covington signed with the Broncos during the offseason and his exit likely means defensive end DeMarcus Walker, a 2017 second-round pick, will make the roster as the sixth lineman.
Calitro played 516 defensive snaps and 429 special teams snaps the last two years for Seattle and Jacksonville, totaling 85 tackles (seven for lost yardage) and 1 1/2 sacks.
“Good backup linebacker, good special teamer,” a league source said of the 26-year-old.
A second league source, though, believes Calitro could make an impact once he gets to Denver and learns coach Vic Fangio’s defense.
“He will end up starting for Vic by the end of the year,” the source said.
Calitro became expendable in Cincinnati after the Bengals drafted three linebackers in April — Logan Wilson (third round), Akeem Davis-Gaither (fourth) and Markus Bailey (seventh).
Undrafted from Villanova, Calitro spent most of 2017 on Cleveland’s practice squad. In 2018, he signed with Seattle and played 16 games (45 tackles in 282 defensive snaps), but was waived after the 2019 preseason and acquired by the Jaguars (40 tackles in 234 defensive snaps). He was claimed by Cincinnati via waivers in April.
The trade creates $750,000 in salary cap space for the Broncos.