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Broncos nab OL Nico Falah off Jets’ PS; Leary sent to IR

Nico Falah is the newest Denver Bronco.

According to reports, the team on Saturday signed Falah, a rookie offensive lineman, off the New York Jets’ practice squad. He takes the roster spot of left guard Ronald Leary, who was officially placed on injured reserve after sustaining a season-ending Achilles’ injury in Week 6.

New York reportedly raised Falah’s pay earlier this week in an (unsuccessful) attempt to ward off NFL poachers. League rules dictate practice-squaders can sign with any team so long as they receive a promotion to the 53-man roster.

This was an expected move after head coach Vance Joseph admitted Friday the Broncos are seeking outside line depth, and encouraged general manager John Elway to begin scouring taxi squads for potential signees.

Falah was not selected in April’s draft but signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Jets. He was released at final cuts and brought back to the practice team.

A two-year starter at USC, where he snapped the ball to former-Trojans, now-Jets signal-caller Sam Darnold, Falah (6-6, 284) isn’t the most nimble blocker and battled injuries in college, but he boasts professional-grade toughness as a center-guard hybrid.

His DraftAnalyst.com scouting report called him an “underrated center prospect with starting potential at the next level.”

“Explosive at the point, fires off the snap and stays with assignments. Keeps his feet moving and his head on a swivel and works well with teammates. Stays square, sets with a wide base and works to bend his knees. Fights with his hands and seals defenders from the action. Effective with shotgun snaps.”

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Unlikely to be active on game days, Falah will slide in behind fellow rookie G/C Sam Jones, the swing man to Connor McGovern, Max Garcia and Matt Paradis. He’s an ideal project for interior OL coach Sean Kugler, who cross-trains the Broncos’ linemen.

Denver’s injury-battered front-five, which was without Leary and right tackle Jared Veldheer (knee) in Week 7, held up well against the Arizona Cardinals in Thursday’s blowout win, allowing just two sacks and four hits on quarterback Case Keenum.

Veldheer is tentatively expected to return for next Sunday’s divisional road showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Leary has dealt with a host of maladies since signing a four-year, $36 million contract with the Broncos in 2017. Arguably the club’s best OL when healthy, he’s struggled to stay off the trainer’s table, finishing consecutive campaigns on IR.

Due a non-guaranteed $8.150 million base salary next year, and counting $9.375 million against the salary cap, Leary is a potential offseason cut candidate, provided the Broncos have a successor lined up. Doing so would save $7.625 million in cap space while incurring a $1.750 million dead money hit, per OverTheCap.com.

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