SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Danny Trevathan doesn’t need to play for a familiar face if he decides to leave the Broncos as a free agent this offseason.
It probably doesn’t hurt, though, that he likes the Bears’ John Fox, his coach in Denver for the first three years of his career.
“I believe I can fit in any scheme,” said the inside linebacker, who led the Broncos with 109 tackles and posted two interceptions this season. “Coach Fox is one of the guys who gave me an opportunity to showcase how I can fit in any scheme.
“I’m sure it’ll be there. I’m sure we’ll end up talking.”
With one exception, Fox didn’t tap his Broncos connections during last year’s free agency period.
This year would be the time to do it.
Three Broncos defenders rank in the top 25 or so among available unrestricted free agents. They play in the Bears’ greatest areas of need and in 3-4 defense similar to that of Vic Fangio. And the Bears have money to spend: likely around $55 million in cap room, fourth-most in the league.
The Broncos’ Von Miller is perhaps the league’s top outside linebacker, Malik Jackson is a defensive end and Trevathan plays outside linebacker.
“For me, it’s cool to have people out there,” said Jackson, who had five sacks. “It’s cool to have (former Broncos defensive coordinator) Jack Del Rio out there in Oakland. We’ve got (former Broncos and Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase) out there in Miami.
“It’s cool to have coaches that have branched out and are doing their own thing.”
Miller ranks atop most team’s wish lists, but it seems unlikely the Broncos let him walk. Were he to leave, though, he’s made so secret of his fondness for Fox, on whose team he was drafted No. 2 overall in 2011.
“He took a chance on me,” said Miller, who had 11 sacks during the regular season and two more in the playoffs. “He brought me here to an organization and we all saw how it played out.”
For all the talk of Fox’s Broncos connections, the Bears wound up signing exactly one player from the 2014 team last spring: center Will Montgomery, who lasted three games plus three plays before breaking his fibula.
The Bears signed linebacker and special teams wiz Lamin Barrow, a 2014 Broncos player, after he was cut by Denver days before the opener. Defensive lineman Mitch Unrein, who started three games over four years under Fox in Denver, was waived by the Chargers early in the season and signed by the Bears.
Fox can make a bigger splash this offseason.
The Broncos’ three candidates know they can up their next paycheck with a good game in Sunday’s Super Bowl against the Panthers.
Jackson said he wants to show Broncos GM John Elway “that I like it here” — if the money’s right.
“It’s the one chance you have to go out there and do something big for your family and for the rest your life,” he said. “For me, I embrace it. I embrace the challenge every week.”
Sunday could, in theory, be the last game as a Bronco for any of the three.
Would they follow their former coach out of town?
“(Free agency) is in the back of my mind, but this is the biggest game of my life,” Trevathan said. “I can win or lose on this game. I know what it takes, and I know what I need to do to get to the next level in my life and on the field.”
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