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Broncos sign DE Vance Walker to 2-year deal

March 13, 2015

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Broncos continued their low-key approach to free agency with the signing of defensive lineman Vance Walker to a two-year, $4 million deal Thursday.

The versatile seventh-year pro is familiar to the Broncos because he’s spent the last two seasons in the AFC West.

Walker, who turns 28 next month, was a 3-4 defensive end for Kansas City last season and a 4-3 defensive tackle in Oakland the year before that.

He spent his first four season with the Falcons, who drafted him out of Georgia Tech, where he was teammates with Broncos star receiver Demaryius Thomas.

Walker has played at least 15 games in five of his six seasons in the NFL. He said he can play all three positions along the line in the 3-4 scheme defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is installing in Denver.

“I can play any position. Really, whatever they need me to do,” Walker said. “It’s a penetrating type of defense, so really wherever they feel that I fit. I spoke with the coaches and they’re pretty impressed that I can play all positions.”

Walker, who also visited the Seattle Seahawks, said he had a great visit with Denver defensive line coach Bill Kollar.

“He’s very energetic. He knows his stuff though. He’s very knowledgeable about a lot of things. He watched a good bit of film on me and gave me some feedback,” Walker said. “We talked a lot about football for a couple hours. I was just really impressed with him. He seems like a great coach to have. I’m excited to work with him.”

Walker said he’s also eager to play with Thomas again.

“It’ll be just like college times — but this time he’s a little bit bigger, so I can’t pick on him like I used to,” Walker said with a laugh.

The Broncos, who signed free agent tight end Owen Daniels to a three-year, $12 million deal Tuesday, have been searching for depth on the defensive front but wanted to wait until the second wave of signings to jump in.

“It just slows down. Now you get out of the frenzy of everything, and you can get back to reality and try to find some good football players,” Elway said Wednesday.

The Broncos have lost tight end Julius Thomas, guard Orlando Franklin and safety Rahim Moore to free agency so far and with nose tackle Terrance Knighton about to sign with the Redskins, they’ll have to replace four starters next year.

Elway, who’s expecting to get four compensatory draft picks to go with the half-dozen he already has, will try to restock through the draft and second- and third-tiers of free agency this year. He said it’s time for young players who haven’t pushed for playing time yet — Ben Garland, Michael Schofield, Cody Latimer — to make big strides in 2015.

“We’ve got some young guys who have got to step up,” he said.

Elway said the Broncos plan to use Sylvester Williams and Marvin Austin Jr. at nose tackle next season. He also said he was hoping to work out a deal to keep free agent defensive tackle Mitch Unrein.

Former Ravens safety Darian Stewart visited Dove Valley on Thursday and the Broncos signed punter Karl Schmitz, who graduated from Missouri-St. Louis in 2011.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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