The Denver Broncos were ordered to reduce their current roster from 90 players to 85 players at 2pm MDT on Tuesday. Just over an hour removed from the deadline, and we know which five players received their walking papers.
It’s a “necessary evil” and the worst job NFL coaches and general managers have. But unfortunately, you can’t keep them all.
Who did the Broncos give up, and what was the result of each cut? Let’s dive in.
Exempt: Max Borghi | RB
Borghi is an undrafted rookie and former local prep school star. The Broncos signed him last week after Damarea Crockett suffered a torn ACL and Melvin Gordon was dealing with a foot contusion that kept him out of practice.
reaction: As nice as it would have been to see Borghi follow in the storied footsteps of another Colorado star who did well in Denver, the odds of him replicating Phillip Lindsay’s early success with the Broncos were always slim. The Broncos needed a body to keep things moving during practice, and Borghi’s five touches for nine total yards in the preseason opener weren’t enough to justify taking him past Tuesday’s deadline.
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Waived: Kaden Davis | WR
Signed as a college free agent out of Missouri State, Davis arrived in Denver after the draft to bolster an already strong wide receiver unit.
reaction: This cut, unfortunately, isn’t a surprise, as Davis couldn’t keep up with some of the other youngsters who have managed to flash and climb Denver’s depth chart this summer. Here’s hoping it lands on its feet.
Waived: Travis Fulgham | WR
Signed to a futures/reserve contract in January, Fulgham arrived in Denver with some NFL experience. He returned with three different clubs in 2021.
reaction: Fulgham’s story mirrors Davis; he didn’t do enough to keep up with the onslaught of “lifters” at wide receiver this summer. Even in the wake of Tim Patrick’s season-ending injury midway through training camp, Fulgham has only managed to tread water while receivers like Montrell Washington, Brandon Johnson, Seth Williams and Kendall Hinton have been in the height
Exempt: Jamar Johnson | S
A fifth-round pick last year, Johnson was one of GM George Paton’s first draft class. A lackluster rookie season didn’t do him any favors, and despite leading the Broncos in tackles in the first preseason game, Johnson didn’t show the kind of physicality and reliability the coaches demanded.
reaction: Johnson was known as a ball hawk at Indiana, but what he brought to the table in coverage and as a football predator was overshadowed by his woeful tackling acumen. While Johnson’s classmate Caden Sterns earned a role on defense as a rookie, becoming Denver’s No. 3 safety, Johnson withered.
Meanwhile, the Broncos brought in safety reinforcements in the offseason in the form of former LA Ram JR Reed and fifth-round pick Delarrin Turner-Yell. Adding insult to injury, a holdover from the Vic Fangio regime — PJ Locke — has become a corner, earning the trust of Denver’s new coaching staff. Way to go, Johnson.
Exempt: Rodney Williams | HAS
The small-school tight end didn’t hear his name called on draft day, but the Broncos signed him as a college free agent. Williams joined a lock on Denver’s tight end depth chart.
reaction: Williams was always swimming against his will. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that tight end is a roster strength, the Broncos have invested in several players not named Williams this year, including signing veterans Andrew Beck and Eric Saubert, as well as acquisition of free agent Eric Tomlinson.
Not to mention the third round investment in Greg Dulcich. Throw into that equation Albert Okwuegbunam and another undrafted rookie, Dylan Parham, and Williams simply didn’t have a big enough seat at the table to show the Broncos’ new coaches.
With the exception of Jamar Johnson, the Broncos had no investment in the players they let go on Tuesday. Every player that was released came from a position group full of competition.
The guys Denver initially showed the door just didn’t show enough to warrant staying past this first wave of cuts. But every player had their chance to prove they belonged.
The NFL isn’t called the ‘Not For Long’ league for nothing. A young player’s window to grab and stick, regardless of draft pedigree, is finite. It’s carpe diem in the NFL, and this handful of players were unequal to their opportunity.
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The Broncos must whittle down the roster to the final 53 players by 2:00 PM MDT on August 30. With two more preseason games remaining, the competition for open roster spots will continue to take shape.
Next up for the Broncos is a preseason road trip to face the Buffalo Bills on Saturday.
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