January 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Andre Caldwell (12) before the game against the New England Patriots in the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

How Valuable Is Andre Caldwell for the Denver Broncos?

Peyton Manning isn’t the only veteran entering his third year as a Denver Bronco after signing up in the Spring of 2012. Former Cincinnati Bengals receiver Andre Caldwel came to the Broncos with some injury history, but also having shown plenty of upside throughout his young career.

After what appeared to be a useless first season with the team, Caldwell came out last year after not being invited to the Duke workouts with Peyton Manning and some of the other Broncos offensive skill players and proved to play a pretty valuable role.

It started in the season opener against Baltimore when Caldwell got in the mix with Manning’s seven touchdown performance. He wouldn’t score again until a Thursday night matchup with the Chargers, and through 14 weeks of the season, he had just four catches.

Then, with Wes Welker out due to concussions, Caldwell was called upon to play a bigger role. He caught six passes against the Chargers and had a pair of touchdowns, and finished the season out with 11 catches in the final three games.

Caldwell is the Broncos’ 4th receiver as things currently stand, but the front office and coaching staff obviously has some level of comfortability and/or confidence in this guy to have handed him a two-year contract after this past season. We all know that Caldwell is a fast dude, and having him coming off the bench is something the Broncos clearly viewed as valuable. He’s proving that by taking over for Demaryius Thomas while Thomas attends to some family matters.

Caldwell’s value to the Broncos isn’t as high as other players, but his new contract combined with the fact that he saw some significant action down the stretch at the end of last year indicates to me that he’s making some progress in the offense, enough that he might be able to spell Emmanuel Sanders at some points this year and provide a spark when the Broncos need it.

Plus, this year, Caldwell was invited to the famous Duke workouts. His chemistry with Manning might be at an all-time high. If that’s the case, the Broncos could get him into the fold more often than we even know at this point.

The depth the Broncos have at receiver is absolutely ridiculous, and Caldwell’s development in the system is adding a lot to that.

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