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Broncos trade OLB Randy Gregory to 49ers

Randy Gregory's exit from Denver became imminent this week, but the storyline took a turn on Friday with a team stepping in to acquire his services.

The Denver Broncos are trading Gregory and a 2024 seventh-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a 2024 sixth-round pick, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported Friday, per a source.

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed the trade Friday afternoon, adding that Gregory passed his physical in San Francisco but won't be available to play until after Week 5.

Gregory's trade to San Francisco comes days after it was reported Denver was releasing the 30-year-old pass rusher, who signed a five-year, $70 million contract with the Broncos ahead of the 2022 season. Gregory generated three sacks in 10 career games with the Broncos and saw his snaps greatly reduced the past two weeks, including his removal from the starting lineup in Denver's Week 4 win over Chicago.

Broncos head coach Sean Payton had told reporters Wednesday that the decision to part ways with Gregory was based on what was best for the team and that the veteran's release would be official within the next two days if a trade partner didn't emerge.

San Francisco was apparently on the phone after hearing opportunity's knock. In acquiring Gregory, the 49ers look to improve on a pass rush that has generated just nine sacks so far in 2023 (ranked 22nd in NFL). Improving those numbers would be a great boost for a defense that's allowed 284.3 yards per game (fifth in NFL) and 14.5 points per game (third). Added pressure elsewhere may also free up Nick Bosa, who has just one sack through four games.

Joining a top-five defense may also benefit Gregory as he looks to rejuvenate his career.

A second-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2015, Gregory has had an up-and-down career with injuries and suspensions aiding his slow start in the NFL. The 15.5 sacks he netted along his final three seasons in Dallas helped Gregory emerge as one of the top free-agent pass rushers of the 2022 offseason, and that's what the Broncos were hoping to get two years ago.

Although he never lived up to the big-money expectations in Denver, Gregory's fresh start could be what the doctor ordered.

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