In a bad year for the Broncos, linebacker Alex Singleton has had a fruitful 2022.
Signed to a one-year deal in March as perhaps a third inside linebacker, he has instead emerged as Denver’s leading tackler. Not only has he posted a third consecutive season of 100-plus tackles — the past two with Philadelphia — but he’s put himself in a position to land the first multi-year contract of his NFL career.
“It’s been awesome,” Singleton said of his experience with the Broncos. “Denver’s been a top-five defense in the league, so it’s been awesome to come here and be invited to be part of the group. To be included, and then once I started playing, fitting in and feeling part of it and continuing that success they’ve had here for a long time.”
The Thousand Oaks, Calif., native didn’t land a full-time role right away.
Singleton started the season by playing almost every snap in the Broncos’ opening two games with fellow inside linebacker Josey Jewell out due to a calf strain. When Jewell returned to the lineup in Week 3, however, Singleton went two games — a win against San Francisco and a loss to Las Vegas — playing only special teams.
Then, defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero decided he needed to see more of Singleton on the field.
“He sees things faster than, really, any player I’ve ever been around,” Evero said recently. “Reacts really fast, he’s tough, he’s smart. Can’t say enough good things about him.”
That feeling, according to Singleton, is mutual.
“He’s the best,” Singleton said of Evero. “How he knows football and understands football is bar none, and then the way he understands each player and being able to use their abilities to fit into the scheme and tweaking it. It’s a communication back and forth, so he’s able to use the scheme that he wants to run, but then with the players he has is able to adjust it based off them. I think that’s what’s most special about him.”
Beginning with Week 5, Singleton has averaged 11.5 tackles per game and added six tackles for loss. He’s up to 144 total tackles on the year, tied for sixth in the NFL and his 88 solo tackles rank fifth. His tackle total is the most by a Broncos defender since D.J. Williams logged 170 in 2007.
Singleton finished 12th in the NFL in tackles (137) last year and 15th (122) in 2020, so racking up stops is nothing new for him. Neither is playing special teams.
He averaged 237 special teams snaps in three seasons in Philadelphia. After playing exclusively special teams in 2019, he played 68% of the defensive snaps the next two seasons and kept his special teams duties.
“Until we got the pads on, I really didn’t understand or know the type of player that he is,” assistant special teams coordinator Mike Mallory said this week. “He’s fun to watch and he’s fun to be around because the guy truly loves the game.
“He’s been very productive and we foresee that continuing.”
So far in 2022, Singleton’s at a 66% play rate defensively and has logged 179 special teams reps with two games to go.
“That’s how I made it in the league and I’ve been doing that for the past four years,” Singleton said of his special teams work. “Then the last three, getting to play defense along with that. It’s something I really don’t want to stop doing. It’s something I take pride in. It’s a big part of the game, which I learned in the CFL when it really was a true third of the game.
“I like contributing in that aspect. It makes practices longer, for sure, but in games I don’t really think about it.”
The 29-year-old has been a bargain on his one-year, $1.15 million contract. Given his level of play this year, he will likely have options again in free agency.
“Denver gets the first crack and we’ll see,” Singleton said. “I want to be here, I love the guys here and (playing for) ‘Coach E’ this year. That’s the first place I want to be and we’ll see what happens.”