Evan Mathis is officially a Bronco and Connor Barth is gone, but these roster moves won’t be the only ones the Broncos will have to make in the coming days.
That is because on Tuesday, Sept. 1, all NFL teams must reduce their rosters to 75 players, meaning each team will have to make a decision about 15 players.
The players who make up the first wave of cuts usually fall into three categories:
* Veterans with no practice squad eligibility, who have been buried on the depth chart.
* Rookies and second-year players who have failed to demonstrate they should at least be considered for the practice squad.
* Players caught up in a positional battle that a team believes has already been decided.
There is a fourth category, although it’s not the one you want to make: Placing a player on injured reserve. The Broncos have one of those players: third-round pick TE Jeff Heuerman. Normally, the Broncos would have placed him on IR, except Heuerman would have to clear waivers if placed on IR before the first roster cut takes place. And as we have seen happen multiple times in the past, the New England Patriots regularly claim such players, seemingly just to show that they can.
Of course, Heuerman going to IR is just one of 15 moves the Broncos will have to make. So who else is likely gone after Sept. 1? Let’s review.
Zac Dysert, QB: Unless Trevor Siemian has a disastrous outing against San Francisco and Dysert blows everyone away, this is a move that won’t require much thought
Jeremy Stewart, RB: He isn’t eligible for the practice squad, while Kapri Bibbs is. Stewart didn’t distinguish himself in the first game he played, either. Maybe he gets some touches against the Niners, but I doubt it’s going to help his case.
Reggie Walker, ILB: Out of all the inside linebackers on the roster, Walker is the only one who I have seen very little from that makes him worth keeping beyond Sept. 1. The younger players battling for roster spots have more upside than the seventh-year veteran.
Solomon Patton, WR: After muffing a punt against Seattle, Patton didn’t even take a snap against the Texans. He may have been in line for a punt return job, but that doesn’t look like the case any longer. And because he remains buried on the WR depth job and there are plenty of other WRs who are eligible for the practice squad, I suspect Patton is gone.
Andre Davis, OG: The signing of Evan Mathis means the Broncos have less of a need to keep several backup guards past Sept. 1. If one makes the practice squad, it’s either going to be Davis or Dillon Day. Because Day can play center or guard, that makes him a more attractive PS option. So I believe the Broncos will just let Davis go and give him a chance to catch on elsewhere.
Josh Watson, DE: Kenny Anunike’s emergence in the preseason opener may have secured him a roster spot. Watson could have pushed for a practice squad spot, but Chuka Ndulue looked sharp against Houston, so he’s put himself in the lead. Watson needs a strong performance against San Francisco to stick around.
Lerentee McCray, OLB: He’s listed as a third-year player on the Broncos’ roster. He’s already been surpassed by Shaquil Barrett and other OLBs are eligible for the practice squad. So it’s likely the Broncos allow McCray to seek his fortunes elsewhere.
Curtis Marsh, CB: The Broncos have a lot of young cornerbacks vying to become depth players. Marsh is listed as a fourth-year player and wouldn’t be eligible for the practice squad. Unless one of the rookie cornerbacks doesn’t look sharp against SF, I suspect Marsh will be let go.
Josh Bush, S: Like Marsh, he’s listed as a fourth-year player, so he couldn’t go to the practice squad. Thus, it would be better to let Josh Furman and Ross Madison battle for that PS spot while Bush is cut.
Remains To Be Seen
Jordan Norwood, WR: I liked what I saw from Norwood last year, but a torn ACL put him out for the season. He hasn’t impressed me this preseason and that’s disappointing. The Broncos are deep at WR, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they cut Norwood.
Dominique Jones, Marcel Jensen or Kyle Murphy, TE: The Broncos will likely keep three tight ends on the roster (not counting the fullback-tight end hybrid player) and I suspect they’ll want to narrow the field down to four after the Niners game. Murphy and Jensen are PS eligible, and Jones isn’t, but that doesn’t mean Jones is the odd man out. Jones has been solid in the preseason, so I figure he sticks around. It’s more likely that Murphy and Jensen are battling to stick around, but if both impress, the Broncos could decide to cut Jones.
Kyle Roberts or Charles Sweeton, OT: I can see the Broncos keeping one offensive tackle on the practice squad, but I’m not positive they will keep more than one. So the Niners game will likely be the audition for these two. The one who plays better sticks around while the other player may be gone.
Britton Colquitt or Spencer Lanning, P: I know everyone wants Colquitt gone, but I don’t think this decision will come as quickly as the one the Broncos had to make at kicker. Colquitt is the holder for field goals and extra point attempts, so that may be why he has stayed on the roster. So far, we have seen Lanning do well with punts, but I have heard nothing about whether or not he’s been used as the holder. It’s possible the Broncos make a final decision after the Niners game, but they could decide to wait another week if they want to determine who, other than Colquitt, can be the holder. And for those who think there’s nothing to it, well, just ask Tony Romo.
Tevrin Brandon, Taurean Nixon or Lorenzo Doss, CB: There are only so many practice squad spots to go around that one of these rookie CBs may be gone after Sept. 1.
Sione Fua, DT: I tend to lean against this happening, because he would be a good fallback option if somebody ahead of him gets hurt. On the other hand, the Broncos may decide it’s best to make a final decision, given that Sylvester Williams and Darius Kilgo have shined in the preseason.
Others who may be let go would be one of the younger WRs or OLBs who doesn’t impress enough for practice squad consideration. As you can see, though, while some Sept. 1 cuts will be easy, a few will be more difficult. We’ll know more after the Niners game.