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The Broncos signed free agent pass rusher Dondrea Tillman on Thursday after he passed his physical. Tillman, 26, played for the Birmingham Stallions of the United Football League this spring.

The team had to make a corresponding move to make room for Tillman’s arrival, and to that end, the Broncos waived rookie linebacker Alec Mock.

Mock signed as an undrafted free agent out of Air Force.

Mock started games in four consecutive seasons for the Falcons. He was a second-team All-Mountain West selection in 2023 when he led the team with 93 total tackles, including 53 solo stops.


Former Stanford coach David Shaw interviewed for the Broncos’ head-coaching job in early 2023. He has now been hired by the team.

But not as a coach.

Mike Klis of 9News.com reports that G.M. George Paton has hired Shaw “as a senior personnel executive.”

It’s an abrupt turn for Shaw, 51, who has more than 25 years as a coach at the NFL and college level.

Shaw has an existing connection to ownership via Broncos limited partner Condoleezza Rice. She was at Stanford during Shaw’s time there, and she helped him close the deal with some of his recruits.

The hire raises obvious questions about where it could lead. Klis specifically pointed out that Paton hired Shaw, with no reference to head coach Sean Payton. Also, Klis himself reported in early 2023 that Shaw was a “sleeper” to be hired.

Could Shaw be Payton’s successor? Could Shaw provide a viable option as interim coach, if the Broncos ever decide during a given season to make a change?

From Payton’s perspective, here’s another important question. Where will Shaw be during the games? Football coaches have a natural (and understandable) sensitivity to the folks who might be whispering coaching-decision criticisms to owners during games. Shaw, if he’s with Rice or primary owner Greg Penner, could be in position to do that, even if he’s simply answering questions from them and not affirmatively trying to stir the pot.

Shaw also could be asked questions by Rice or Penner at any time about in-game and bigger-picture coaching issues.

It therefore will be key for Payton and Shaw, who were together on the Eagles’ staff in 1997, to be on the same page. Again, the fact that Paton — and not Payton — made the hire will create fair speculation as to what this all means, and where it all could lead.


The Broncos are signing free agent outside linebacker Dondrea Tillman to a three-year deal that includes a $10,000 signing bonus, Mike Klis of 9News reports.

Tillman, 26, played for the Birmingham Stallions of the United Football League this spring. It marked his third season playing for the Stallions, who have won three consecutive championships.

He has 92 tackles and 8.5 sacks the past three springs, including three in 2024.

Tillman made 26.5 sacks his final three seasons at Division II Indiana University of Pennsylvania before he joined Birmingham in 2022.

He joins a room that includes Jonathon Cooper, Baron Browning, Nik Bonitto, Jaylon Allen, Jonah Elliss, Thomas Incoom, Ronnie Perkins and Durell Nchami. The Broncos won’t have Drew Sanders for the start of the season after he tore an Achilles early in the team’s offseason conditioning program.

The team will have to make a corresponding move to get Tillman on the 90-player offseason roster.


The Broncos waived undrafted rookie tight end Dylan Leonard with an injury settlement Thursday, the team announced. Denver needed the roster spot to make the signing of linebacker Andre Smith official.

Leonard missed the last part of the offseason program with an undisclosed injury.

He signed with the team after going undrafted, getting $27,500 of his contract guaranteed, including a $5,000 signing bonus, per Chris Tomasson of the Denver Gazette.

Leonard played 453 snaps last season for Georgia Tech, with the Yellow Jackets using him mostly as a run blocker. Leonard caught only 14 passes for 156 yards and one touchdown last season.

In his five-year career, he had 41 receptions for 387 yards and a touchdown.


The Broncos are signing free agent linebacker Andre Smith, Jordan Schultz of FS1 reports.

Smith, 27, earned a contract after a tryout at the minicamp this week.

He appeared in 11 games with the Falcons last season and totaled 19 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Smith saw action on 112 defensive snaps and 211 on special teams.

Smith has played 62 games in his career with the Panthers, Bills, Titans and Falcons. Atlanta made him a seventh-round pick in 2018.

He has recorded 52 tackles, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in his six seasons.