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Vance Joseph: It would 'be surprising' if T.J. Ward were traded

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- If Denver Broncos safety T.J. Ward is actually on the trading block, that's not something coach Vance Joseph has seen come across his desk.

However, there are personnel executives in the league who say the Broncos are both shopping Ward -- it would take a significant offer -- and listening to potential offers for the Pro Bowl safety. However, Ward said after Tuesday’s practice that he was continuing "to get ready" for the Broncos' Sept. 11 regular-season opener.

Asked after practice if Ward was a target of trade discussions, Joseph said: "I haven't heard that about T.J. He's one of our better players so it would be surprising if he was."

Ward, who signed with the Broncos in the free-agency plunge of 2014 that also included DeMarcus Ware, Emmanuel Sanders and Aqib Talib, has been named to two Pro Bowls in his three previous seasons with Denver. He finished what he has repeatedly said was his best all-around season in 2015 with 87 tackles, a sack, an interception and three forced fumbles.

He is part of the team's "No Fly Zone" secondary that features four starters -- Ward, safety Darian Stewart, cornerback Aqib Talib and cornerback Chris Harris Jr. -- who have each been named to at least one Pro Bowl over the past two seasons. In addition, reserve cornerback Bradley Roby, a first-round pick from 2014, could start for many teams.

The Broncos know they face a decision about Ward at the end of the season as he is in the last year of the four-year, $22.5 million deal he signed in 2014. He is to earn a base salary of $4.5 million this season and will count $5.75 million against the salary cap.

The Broncos signed Stewart to a four-year extension in November. He was scheduled to be a free agent this past March.

At the time, Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway said Stewart was "an integral part our defense." The Broncos have been the league's top-ranked pass defense in each of the past two seasons.

Heading into free agency next year, Ward's play would put him near the top of the pay scale at the position. The Miami Dolphins signed strong safety Reshad Jones, 29, to a $55 million deal this year and Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor has a $36 million deal.

The Broncos have been part of trade buzz around the league since training camp opened. The team has a surplus of offensive linemen that some teams are keeping an eye on. And Elway is known to drive a hard bargain on the trade market, so any deal for a player like Ward would have to be worth doing for the Broncos.

His standing in the locker room, and the fact the Broncos do not have salary-cap issues at the moment means any offer for Ward would have to wow Elway. Though Ward has not played in the preseason because of a hamstring injury, the Broncos have been pleased with what Justin Simmons has done in the lineup.

"He's a good young player ... he is definitely a good young player," Joseph said of Simmons.