Player: Jordan Norwood
Explanation: The 29 year old journeyman receiver has been through the ups and downs that only few players NFL players will every experience. After bouncing around the NFL for five years, the Broncos signed Jordan Norwood to a reserve/future contract in the winter of 2014 as a potential depth receiver/return man.
Things looked promising in 2014 training camp, as Norwood was making plays on both offense and special teams, surely securing himself a spot on the 53 man roster. When everything started to look up for Norwood, he was brought back to earth with a devastating ACL injury, which cost him the entire 2014 season. Fortunately for Norwood and the Broncos, he bounced back in 2015 and not only made the 53 man roster, but made an impact on this team that few saw coming.
With 22 catches in the regular season and a smattering of plays on special teams, he was building momentum towards a postseason that will never be forgotten by Broncos country. After Omar Bolden suffered a season ending injury late in the season, Norwood was able to take sole position of the return duties for the Broncos and in return, he picked arguably the best time to have the play of his life.
Amidst the confusion and let’s face it, inexperience from the Panthers defenders, Norwood bounced off of the opposition and scooted his way to a Super Bowl record 61 yard punt return, setting up the Broncos in the redzone to extend their lead in the big game.
Regardless of whether or not that play will leave a lasting impact on the Broncos front office, I feel like Norwood is worth bringing back for another year or two in the same role that he had in 2015. Whatever happens heading into Free Agency, there’s no doubt that his punt return will forever live in Bronco history.
Player: Bennie Fowler
Explanation: The second year pro made the jump from the Practice Squad to the 53 man roster this past season and made the most of every opportunity given to him. With 16 catches for over 200 yards, Fowler was often used as the Broncos #4 WR and Special Teams contributor in 2015. Where Fowler really shined though was in the postseason. Against the Steelers in the Divisional Round, Fowler made a spectacular 31 yard reception to extend the drive and ultimately, seal the victory for the Broncos. If that wasn’t enough, he also made this play in the Super Bowl that proved to be the final dagger in the Panthers heart…
Clearly, Fowler is developing a knack for making key plays to win games. That’s not a bad reputation to have. As for his future prospects with the Broncos, I only see his role in the offense growing moving forward. I look forward to the progress that he makes in his third NFL season and beyond.
Player: Cody Latimer
Explanation: The second year wideout clearly hasn’t made the impact that many in Broncos country expected him to have when he was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2014 NFL Draft. With only 8 career catches and 1 TD to his resume, one would think that Latimer’s spot on the 2016 roster
is in jeopardy. Where Latimer really showed his development in 2015 was on special teams.
With 5 special teams tackles and a more active role in the coverage units, Latimer has begun to earn
the trust of the coaching staff that will hopefully result in an increased role in the Broncos offense going into the 2016 season.
He’s proven to be a worthy commodity on Special Teams and with two years left on his rookie deal, I expect Latimer to stick around and hopefully grow into the offensive weapon that Elway and Co. expected him to be when they drafted him two years ago.
Player: Owen Daniels
Explanation: The tenth year TE has revolved his career around Gary Kubiak. Wherever the coach went, Daniels followed. With two years left on a 3 year, 12 million dollar deal he signed last off-season, I expect Daniels to stick around for at least one more season and provide the necessary role of mentor to the other offensive players that need to be brought up to speed in the Kubiak led offense.
And for those of you wondering what else the tenth year pro can bring to the table, he can still be relied upon to catch a TD pass every now and then, too.
Unless he decides to hang up the cleats, I expect Daniels to come back for another year, if not two.