It’s a dark day across the NFL landscape as players from every roster are being sent home without a job, their dreams no longer a reality. For some young players, it’s merely the start of a new beginning in a new city. For some, it’s the end of the road entirely, a last chance at making an impression to NFL scouts and coaches before it’s time to move on to the next chapter.
I can’t imagine this time of year gets any easier for coaches on a year to year basis, having to call players into the office and let them know that their time and efforts are appreciated, but their dreams of playing in the NFL won’t happen, at least with that team.
The Broncos especially have tough decisions this year, as just a few years removed from a 4-12 season, they’ve won three straight division titles, an AFC title, and have one of the deepest rosters in the league.
Cutting players is basically like trading teams upgrades without anything in return.
The rest of the NFL is sure to feast on the players let go by Denver, but the Broncos really have a lot of options for a strong 53-man roster and 10 player practice squad. They will also have the opportunity to poach young players from other teams.
Here’s a roster projection from Predominantly Orange, as well as a practice squad prediction (that’s nearly impossible).
Defensive End, Duke
For a rookie, Anunike had one of the best camps of any Broncos rookie. He’s not being waived, rather being placed on IR with torn biceps. It’s another in a long line of injuries that have hindered Anunike in his football career, but ones that allowed him to slip through the cracks to the Broncos the way he did. He would have probably made the practice squad, but it looks like the Broncos will at least keep him off of waivers and on their roster in this capacity.
Tight End, Arizona State
Robinson, a fan favorite, was reportedly a lock for the final roster after going invisible in the preseason. It was a surprise to read the reports, and they were apparently too soon or just misinformation. Robinson was waived, per Mike Klis, and he’ll probably get a look on the practice squad for one more season and perhaps a call up at some point this year if the Broncos need him.
Cornerback, Georgia Tech
Young became a fan favorite and closed the preseason with a bang. By that I mean he had part in two sacks against the Cowboys, and showed an ability to blitz from the corner position. Gifted with size and athletic ability, Young is a perfect player to stash on the Broncos’ practice squad and develop for a year under Jack Del Rio and company.
Center, Boise State
Paradis might have made the team had it not been for the signing of veteran Will Montgomery, but the Broncos are obviously going with the guy that has NFL starting experience as an emergency backup to Manny Ramirez. Paradis, as a draft pick, is likely headed to the practice squad if the Broncos liked what they saw in training camp.
Wide Receiver, Michigan State
Fowler is a heigh-weight-speed marvel out of Michigan State who showed some ability to make big plays in college, but had too many drops and passes that he gator-armed in the preseason for the Broncos. He might be worth a look on the practice squad due to his measurables.
Wide Receiver, Northern Illinois
Palmer was signed to the Broncos’ practice squad last season and had a shot to compete for backup slot and returner duties but couldn’t clamp down on a spot. He might be a candidate for the practice squad again but the Broncos could look for upgrades.
Boyett was signed to the practice squad late last season, and I think he’ll end up there again. He showed flashes at camp and preseason and was really good at Oregon before multiple bad knee injuries forced him to be a late round pick in 2013. The Broncos would do well to sign him as one of their 10 practice squad players, in my opinion.
Running Back, Colorado State
The Broncos picked up Bibbs as a UDFA out of Colorado State and he picked up where he left off as a Ram, scoring three touchdowns in the preseason for the Broncos. This kid looked solid, and should definitely be in line for a practice squad spot. This move also means the Broncos are keeping Juwan Thompson on the 53-man roster.
Linebacker, Colorado State
Barrett had a tough road to the 53-man roster, but he played his way on in my opinion. Getting cut isn’t the end of the line, but you can only hope at this point that the Broncos can sneak him onto the practice squad. Barrett is a natural pass rusher with great instincts who uses his hands and quickness well. He’s also versatile. I really like his upside so I hope he stays in Denver.
Quarterback, Miami (OH)
Dysert was drafted in the 7th round by the Broncos in the 2013 draft, but this team was too talented to roster 3 quarterbacks despite a solid couple of years of development. They’ll try to sneak him onto the practice squad, but he drew interest last year per reports so they had to roster him all year. This year, they may be able to sneak him in, but with so many QB needy teams, that might be a longshot.
Safety, San Jose State
Duke Ihenacho was a preseason and training camp darling last year that started on opening day for the Broncos, but fell far this offseason. It’s crazy to see his name on this list but after a poor preseason it’s not entirely a shock. Duke tweeted out the news on his personal Twitter account. He should get picked up by another team.
Defensive Tackle, Michigan State
A veteran and starter of 11 games last year, Vickerson’s release comes per reports from Adam Schefter and Mike Klis. Vickerson was the biggest name I thought might get cut by Denver, but I predicted him in the final roster because of his veteran presence. He’ll find another team soon enough, as will fellow cut DT Sione Fua. The Broncos appear to be keeping Mitch Unrein over Big Vick.
Offensive Lineman, Virginia Tech
Painter, a sixth round pick in 2013, is a developmental prospect who ascended to the Broncos’ #2 right guard spot behind Louis Vasquez, and will be an ideal candidate for the practice squad again this year. He was nearly poached by the 49ers last year, but the Broncos signed him to the active roster. The front office obviously likes him, but he’s just not ready for the 53-man roster yet. This could mean Ben Garland made the team as well for the first time.
Linebacker, Northern Iowa
A former undrafted free agent for the Cleveland Browns, Fort is a solid backup but is at a really crowded position group for the Broncos. He played probably the most he has all preseason on Thursday night against the Cowboys. It was reported he had a lot of interest before he signed with the Broncos, so perhaps he’ll see another look with a different team.
Cornerback, South Florida
Murphy flashed in the preseason for the Broncos after a really rocky start to his NFL career. The former third round pick has now been cut by the Rams and Redskins, and while he had a decent shot to take the sixth cornerback spot with the Broncos (if they keep that many), I think it would have been an upset for him to make it. He looked solid in the preseason, so he might get picked up by another team.
Really good size, physical defensive back prospect out of Tulane who is a prime practice squad candidate. I thought Sullen showed some nice ability at times in the preseason, but we’ll see if the Broncos feel the same way. He has an aggressive mentality as a corner.
Defensive Tackle, Stanford
Fua flashed signs of what made him a third round pick in 2011 throughout the preseason, even at times making me question whether or not he would take someone’s spot on the 53-man roster. For a defensive tackle needy team, Fua will find a home. He is still young, and has some upside.
Offensive Lineman, Colorado
Miller was reportedly waived according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post. He is a local product out of Columbine High School and played ball for the Colorado Buffaloes in college. Drafted by the Cleveland Browns and Tom Heckert, Miller had multiple connections with the Broncos being local and being drafted by someone in the front office, but there was a logjam on the offenisve interior. He is a possible candidate for the practice squad, but we’ll need to dig up info on his eligibility.
Tight End, Kent State
Konz had risen to the fourth TE spot as of the first depth chart release, but wasn’t able to lock that roster spot down. He is a freak athletically who is a former seventh round pick of the Seahawks.
Tight End, California
Morrah played really well in the Broncos’ preseason finale, catching a pass from Brock Osweiler that was probably his best of the preseason. He played so well last night that he had some people thinking he might be among those on the 53-man roster. He isn’t practice squad eligible, so he might have to latch on with another team.
Defensive Lineman, Temple
Sanford was signed late in training camp for the Broncos, and having had some experience in the regular season with the Raiders and Browns, it made some sense to give him a look with some other back end defensive ends suffering injuries, but the Broncos brought him in for a tryout. Their defensive line is ridiculously deep. He would have had to explode onto the scene.