Jamaal Charles is not a roster bubble player for Broncos

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 02: Jamaal Charles
KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 02: Jamaal Charles /

The Denver Broncos may have depth at running back, but performance shouldn’t determine Jamaal Charles’ spot on the final roster…

Jamaal Charles is not a roster bubble player.

At least, not in the way that I would perceive a normal roster bubble player in today’s NFL.

Jamaal Charles is one of the best running backs to ever play the game, and he’s on an almost completely non-guaranteed contract with the Denver Broncos.

If he doesn’t make the final 53-man roster, he makes only $100,000 for his efforts over the course of this offseason.

It’s not a bad Summer job, but it’s not why Charles signed with the Broncos.

If he makes the 53-man roster, the Broncos owe him over $1.3 million, which is still an extremely reasonable price for a player like Charles, despite his knee issues.

The past two seasons, we haven’t seen much of Charles in the NFL. The player who is the NFL’s all-time leader in yards per carry has been bitten by the injury bug a couple years in a row, and became a cap casualty this offseason for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Other than the concerns with his knee, what makes Charles a roster bubble player?

Now that Charles is getting ready to make his preseason debut with the Broncos, it seems like everyone with a Twitter account or writing platform is saying this is his ‘one shot’ to make the team.


The Broncos and head coach Vance Joseph have had Charles on an incredibly strict pitch count all offseason long. That hasn’t been due to any more recovery he’s needed from injury. It’s been to preserve Charles’ health.


Because the Broncos already have a plan in place for Charles in regular season games. This is a player with big time home run speed. Charles has been around the game for almost 10 years. I know De’Angelo Henderson has been sensational in the preseason, but there’s things Charles brings to the table that when he’s healthy, at this point we have no prior evidence of Henderson doing at the NFL level.

That’s not meant to be a slight to Henderson, either.

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Jamaal Charles was brought in to this Broncos team with a specific plan in place. To date, that plan has been executed flawlessly. Charles slowly began taking on more reps at training camp in 7-on-7 team drills. He slowly started doing more cutting and getting into the mix with 11-on-11 and more contact.

Now, Charles has shed the knee brace he’s been wearing as a protective measure. It seems like, from my perspective anyway, everything is going according to plan.

What type of performance would the Broncos have to see from Charles in the preseason game against Green Bay that would determine his roster status?

If he has seven carries for negative yardage, would you cut him? If he has 10 total touches for 50 yards and a fumble, is he gone?

Is that even fair?

Charles has been intentionally held out of a number of practices, drills, preseason games, etc. He won’t play in the Broncos’ preseason finale. And I’m here to tell you — his roster status will not be determined by the statistics he puts up against the Packers.

A true roster bubble player is a player who is:

A. Not proven.

B. Not that good.

C. Not healthy.

Jamaal Charles is neither A nor B, and from what he’s saying (that he’s 100 percent healthy), he’s not C either.

Charles’ roster status will depend totally on whether or not he emerges from that game healthy. If he can prove that he can play extensive snaps and recover properly, there’s no way the Broncos are cutting him.