Broncos in the NFL: One former Boise State star lands a new deal. Another hits the market

Tony Avelar/AP

Former Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is staying in Dallas.

Vander Esch signed a new two-year deal worth up to $11 million Tuesday, according to his agent Ron Slavin. The contract includes $5 million guaranteed, a $2.5 million signing bonus and $2 million in incentives.

Vander Esch signed a one-year deal worth $1.9 million in March 2022, according to His rookie deal covered four years and was worth $11.8 million.

The 27-year-old Riggins native told on Tuesday that his relationships with Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn played a big role in his return. He’s especially excited to have Quinn back.

“I’ve had three different defensive systems in four years,” Vander Esch said. “Me having the same defensive coordinator in back-to-back seasons … I am only going to get better.”

Vander Esch — the No. 19 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft — set the Cowboys’ single-season rookie record with 140 tackles in 2018, but he only played in 19 games in the two seasons that followed because of neck, collarbone and ankle injuries.

He bounced back in 2021, posting 77 tackles in 17 games. That success carried over into last season when he started 14 games and finished with 90 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

Vander Esch played at Boise State from 2014 to 2017 and was named Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year in his final season.

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Rypien hits the market

Former Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien is a free agent.

NFL teams had until 4 p.m. Wednesday to tender restricted free agents.

The Denver Broncos decided not to renew Rypien’s contract, but they didn’t stop there. They also signed his replacement, adding former Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham. He’ll back up Russell Wilson this season, leaving Rypien as the odd man out.

Rypien, 26, appeared in eight games for the Broncos the past four seasons, starting three. He went 1-1 in place of an injured Wilson last year and has posted 778 passing yards, four touchdowns and eight interceptions during his NFL career.

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The native of Spokane, Washington, signed with Denver as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He made $965,000 last season and has earned more than $2.9 million during his career, according to

Rypien was a restricted free agent, and the lowest tender the Broncos could offer a player with his experience was a one-year contract worth $2.627 million, according to NFL rules. He became an unrestricted free agent when he hit the open market.

Rypien played at Boise State from 2015 to 2018. He took over as the starting quarterback three games into his freshman season in 2015 after Ryan Finley was injured and ended his college career ranked No. 2 in program history in career passing yards (13,581), passing touchdowns (90) and completions (1,036).

Elliss signs with Falcons

Former Idaho linebacker Kaden Elliss signed a three-year, $21.5 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons. The contract includes $11 million guaranteed.

Elliss has spent the past four seasons in New Orleans after the Saints drafted him in the seventh round of the 2019 draft. The 27-year-old posted career highs in tackles (78), sacks (7) and forced fumbles (2) last season.