Denver Broncos: Players team may consider trading before season starts

Through free agency and the draft, the Denver Broncos have built a much different roster than they finished the 2019 season with.

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DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 13: Tight end Jeff Heuerman #82 of the Denver Broncos stands on the field before the game against the Tennessee Titans at Empower Field at Mile High on October 13, 2019, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

The Broncos made some big moves in the offseason to acquire A.J. Bouye and Jurrell Casey before drafting two talented receivers in the first round. Those moves highlight the team's offseason, but there is work to be done to shape the final roster.

As teams sit at 90-man rosters, there is sometimes a need for some creativity to trim things down to the league-mandated number of players on the squad. It's easy to just waive players, but sometimes, if something can be had for a player that no longer fits on the team, that possibility should always be explored.

The Broncos have a few of those players on the current roster and while they could each make the team in 2020, the Broncos might benefit from shopping each of them around.

This is not to say that the team would be able to fetch a king's ransom for any of these players. In fact, they would likely only receive a late-round pick in exchange for a couple of them, but that is certainly better than nothing.

Trades should be considered by every team. The New England Patriots seem to make one several times per season and in most cases, those moves work out for them.

So which players could the Broncos be looking to move on from and ship elsewhere before the 2020 season starts?

The team has acquired enough depth at certain position groups to be able to move on from players who may now be expendable. Who are they? Have a look.

DeMarcus Walker

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DeMarcus Walker has not panned out the way many hoped he would.

DeMarcus Walker has never really panned out for the Broncos, who drafted him in the second round of the 2017 draft. Since that time, he has a total of six sacks.

When getting after the quarterback was supposed to be his calling card, that isn't going to cut it. The team added to its defensive line with the addition of Casey and the third-round selection of McTelvin Agim, which is only going to push Walker further down the depth chart.

At this point, he is nothing more than a role player or situational pass-rusher, if he even makes the team. There's plenty of question as to whether he will, as he is squarely on the roster bubble.

So if that's all he is, why shouldn't the Broncos seek a trade partner? Perhaps there is a team out there in more need of a pass-rusher or one that Walker could be a better fit for. The Broncos would not get much in return, but the four sacks Walker registered last season while seeing limited snaps could make him somewhat attractive to another team.

Walker is still just 25 years old so in terms of age, he still has a lot left in the tank. He will be entering the final year of his rookie deal and the chances of him being re-signed following this season are slim, so the Broncos should consider moving him while they still can.

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Royce Freeman

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Royce Freeman is clearly the odd man out in Denver's backfield.

I have pitched the idea of trading Royce Freeman before. The Broncos should absolutely consider this after signing Melvin Gordon this offseason.

The Broncos leaned on Freeman just as much as Phillip Lindsay last season and he chipped in as a receiver by making 43 receptions. But in two seasons, he has only averaged about 500 yards rushing each season.

The offense just goes better when Lindsay is in the backfield. Regardless of his size or his draft status in comparison to Freeman, he has just been the better player.

In Gordon, the Broncos get a former first-round pick who many believe is still one of the best overall backs in the league. Though Gordon only signed a two-year deal with the team, he could easily work that into a long-term contract.

So where does that leave Freeman? It leaves him as a guy who will see a few offensive snaps each game or a guy who the team can fall back on if there is an injury. While that can be a valuable asset, you don't want to bank on an injury happening. Besides, both Lindsay and Gordon can shoulder a full load for a game or two should that happen.

Freeman is just 24 years old and has averaged 131 carries in his first two seasons in the league. That means there is plenty of tread left on his tires and a running back starved team should absolutely give the Broncos a call. Should that call come in, the Broncos should be all ears.

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The Broncos have a surplus of tight ends

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Jake Butt is one of eight tight ends on the roster.

This would be a tougher sell than the other names on this list. The Broncos have a bunch of tight ends, but none of them (at least those not named Noah Fant) would bring much value.

Fant, Nick Vannett and Andrew Beck are likely going to make the team. Fourth-round selection Albert Okwuegbunam is also a good bet to be on the team.

That leaves Jeff Heuerman, Jake Butt, Troy Fumagalli and Austin Fort to dangle as potential trade bait. Fort is a guy that could surprise but he offers no trade value so unless he pushes for a spot on the roster, he will just be released or placed on the practice squad. There would be almost no interest in Fumagalli either.

Though reports indicate that Butt has a full bill of health, would a team be willing to give up much for the promising, yet seemingly always injured tight end? That's unlikely and if there was, it wouldn't be much.

Heuerman is the guy the Broncos should try to move. Vannett can give the team everything that he has and for a fraction of the cost. Heuerman is due $4.3 million in 2020 while Vannett will get just $2.1 million.

If a team would be willing to make a move to acquire Butt, that would be ideal, but moving Heuerman makes a lot of sense if a trade partner could be found.

How many of these moves will happen?

It's quite likely that none of these moves happen. But the Broncos have to get the roster down just like every other team and getting future compensation for these players that were once promising but by and large, just have not panned out, is definitely worth considering.