With the deadline soon approaching for roster cuts to take place around the NFL, the Broncos find themselves in a bit of a tricky situation with an absolutely loaded room at the safety position. Their safeties currently include Justin Simmons, Caden Sterns, Kareem Jackson, Delarrin Turner-Yell, P.J. Locke, Devon Key, and JL Skinner. Now raises the question: how many safeties do the Broncos plan to keep?
Dating back to his time in New Orleans with GM Mickey Loomis, head coach Sean Payton rarely ever kept more than five safeties on his 53-man roster meaning if this trend were to continue in Denver, then GM George Paton would be left with a tough decision at hand. More than likely, third-year safety Devon Key will not be making the team meaning the decision comes down to whether or not the front office would like to retain Turner-Yell or Skinner for the active roster. Regardless, whichever safety does not make the final roster will almost immediately sign to the practice squad and possibly receive opportunities to play in the regular season barring any injuries to the starting safeties.
It is certainly still possible for the Broncos to carry six safeties on their game day roster however, very unlikely given the fact they have a practice squad for a reason and also have to factor in how many corners are competing for spots in the secondary. Reports coming out of Dove Valley have been very much in favor of second-year Broncos safety Delarrin Turner-Yell and has often been referred to as a "core special teams" player. Broncos fans are well aware of the issues on special teams the last few years or so and having a safety like Turner-Yell on your game day roster certainly makes it a much better unit all around.
Not just on special teams, but Turner-Yell also has impressed in place of All-Pro starting safety Justin Simmons who has been dealing with a minor groin injury in camp. Referring to the first unofficial depth chart released by the team, Turner-Yell is actually listed as the second-string safety behind Simmons as Kareem Jackson and Caden Sterns are listed as co-starters at right safety opposite of Simmons. However, for rookie safety JL Skinner, he is currently listed as the last safety on the depth chart opposite of Devon Key who is continuing to battle for a roster spot.
Unfortunately for Skinner, he simply has not made enough plays in the secondary or been involved enough in the run game for coaches to seriously consider him as a contributor in his rookie season. Skinner did play 39 percent of the team's defensive snaps (31 snaps) in the preseason opener at Arizona, whereas Turner-Yell played 42 percent of snaps (33 snaps) as the coaches opted to get a good look at the 23-year-old as the starter.
Despite generating a lot of hype around the fanbase being drafted in the sixth round, Skinner may have to use the 2023 season as a redshirt year due to the crowdedness of the Broncos' safety room. While it may seem a bad thing, this could further prepare Skinner as a key contributor in Denver's secondary working his way up from the practice squad.