There could be much at stake for these three Denver Broncos who simply cannot afford to regress in the 2023 season. Growth in the NFL isn't linear. Sometimes, players are one-hit wonders. They break out one year but end up regressing in the next year.
Conversely, some players do develop linearly in the NFL. You notice improvements in the early stages of their careers before they reach their peak. A lot of those players are now some of the best at their positions.
Then, you have the other side of the coin. You sometimes have players who are just barely treading water. Some might be fighting for their starting job or fighting for their spot on the roster. Some of these players may end up getting cut and not signed by another NFL team, ending their careers.
The Denver Broncos have a few players who simply cannot afford to regress in the 2023 season. Let's dive into these players.
3 Denver Broncos who cannot afford to regress in the 2023 season
1. Lloyd Cushenberry, C
If Lloyd Cushenberry regresses any more than his current level of play, he'll either be cut by the team or will be stuffed down the depth chart. Cushenberry was a third-round pick back in the 2020 NFL Draft and has been the primary starting center since then.
He played in just eight games in 2022 due to an injury and is currently the projected starting center for the Denver Broncos this year. He's been quite bad when he's on the field and is one of the worst starting centers in the NFL, but at this moment, Denver may not have another viable starting option on the roster.
Cushenberry is set to play next to two elite guards in Ben Powers and Quinn Meinerz, and if he can't put together some form of serviceable play, he isn't a starting caliber center in the NFL and may not get that chance again.