That Matt Paradis is no longer with the Denver Broncos has less to do with money and more to do with his mending ankle.
Addressing Paradis' departure during a press gathering Friday, Broncos general manager John Elway admitted there were "big concerns" after the stud pivot man sustained a fibula fracture last season.
Encouraged to shop his wares in free agency, Paradis reportedly restarted talks with Denver right before the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday inked him to a three-year, $27 million deal, which includes $12 million in guaranteed money and a $9 million signing bonus.
Come on down, Connor McGovern!
"Connor is our center right now," Elway said. "I think that obviously we didn’t want to lose Matt, but we had real concerns about the ankle. That is why that didn’t work out. I’m happy for Matt. I really am. I’m happy for Matt that he got the opportunity in Carolina. It had nothing to do with Matt’s ability, but we had big concerns about that ankle. Like I said, I’m happy for Matt that he got what he got from Carolina. I hope that works out for him."
Elway was true to form in that he didn't budge with Paradis, who fell short of his goal to become the league's richest center, an honor now held by Buffalo's Mitch Morse ($11 million annually). The Broncos had a number and likely offered that number with a take-it-or-leave-it condition.
Exactly what a wary Elway told us he'd do at last month's NFL Scouting Combine, having stated a lukewarm interest in retaining Paradis.
“We’ve told him that we would like to have him back, but he’s coming off of a pretty significant injury," he said on Feb. 27. "We have to evaluate that process. Matt has been a great warrior for us for four years. But obviously, with the injury that he did have, that changes the thought process. We’ll have to see where that falls.”
A 2014 sixth-round draft pick from Boise State, Paradis was in the midst of another stellar season for the Broncos, grading out as a top-five C, according to Pro Football Focus, prior to the fibula injury, which occurred on Nov. 4. He hadn't missed an offensive snap since entering the league, a 3,850-play streak that came to a painful end.
Paradis confirmed in his introductory Panthers press conference — as if this video wasn't proof enough — that he's ahead of schedule in his recovery and expects to be fully cleared by June.
“Timelines are not set in stone,” he told the team's official website. “All the results have been fantastic. It’s been steady the whole way.”