4 Broncos free agents who could be forced into retirement

Not every NFL free agent is going to continue their playing career in 2024. For these Denver Broncos free agents, it could be the end of the line.

Denver Broncos v Carolina Panthers
Denver Broncos v Carolina Panthers / Grant Halverson/GettyImages
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The NFL is a business and though it is America's No. 1 sport by far, it is a tough business.

The average career span of an NFL player, at least as of the start of the 2023 season, is about 3.3 years. That means that many of the men who enter the NFL will need to find work doing something else for the rest of their working lives.

And the end comes quickly. Not every player gets the kind of sendoff of a John Elway or Peyton Manning. For most, the end is quiet and abrupt. Once a player's contract runs out, if another team is not interested in signing him to a new deal, he must begin to start thinking about life after football.

Many of these players still stay in shape and work through their agents to find a new opportunity. They become what is known as "street free agents", ready to continue their playing careers at a moment's notice. That often happens when a player gets hurt in training camp or in a preseason game. It can also happen when a team realizes it just needs for help at a certain position.

For these four players, all unrestricted free agents when the new league year opens on March 13, this scenario could be in place. The Broncos will look at each of them and consider where they fit in their future plans, if at all. If there is no spot for them, they will have to hope another team is interested or they will have to realize that life after football begins very soon.

Cam Fleming, Denver Broncos
Sep 25, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III (25) runs around the block from offensive lineman Cam Fleming. / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Cameron Fleming, Offensive Lineman

Cam Fleming has played 10 years in the league after being drafted in the fourth round in 2014. He has spent the past three seasons with the Broncos and has been an effective swing tackle for the team during that time.

But he has played for the Broncos on a series of one-year contracts, showing quite clearly that he is just a backup plan or stopgap for the team. Though he has filled in admirably when called upon, he will also be 32 years old when the 2024 season kicks off.

The Broncos, or any other team, would only be looking at Fleming under another one-year deal. The Broncos also have Alex Palczewski, an undrafted player out of Illinois last season who looked good in camp.

The team could get a better look at him and let Fleming walk. If Fleming has not signed with another team by the end of camp, that could be when the Broncos look to give Fleming another deal, if the position is lacking.

However, that might be the only way his playing career continues at this point. If no other team feels his services are needed and the Broncos find a better, more youthful option in Palczewski, that could certainly be how the curtain closes on Fleming's playing days.