The Denver Broncos were mandated to reduce their current 90-man roster to 85 players by 2:00 PM MDT on Tuesday. Just over an hour has passed since the deadline, and we know which five players have been handed their walking cards.
It’s a ‘necessary evil’ and the worst thing about the jobs NFL coaches and general managers hold. But alas, you can’t keep them all.
Who did the Broncos give up and what is the benefit of each cut? Let’s dive in.
Gave up: Max Borghi | RB
Borghi is an undrafted rookie and former local prep star. The Broncos signed him last week after Damarea Crockett suffered a torn ACL and Melvin Gordon was managing a foot contusion that kept him out of practice.
reaction: As cool 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 preseason Game 1 weren’t enough to justify keeping him beyond 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 late in the draft to bolster a wide receiver unit that was already a force.
reaction: This cut, sadly, comes as no surprise as Davis failed to keep up with some of the other young wideouts who managed to shine and move up Denver’s depth chart this summer. Here’s to hoping he lands on his feet.
Waived: Travis Fulgham | WR
Signed to a future/backup contract in January, Fulgham arrived in Denver with little NFL experience. He danced with three different clubs in 2021.
reaction: The story on Fulgham mirrors Davis; he didn’t do enough to keep up with the Risers’ offense at wide receiver this summer. Even after Tim Patrick’s season-ending injury halfway through training camp, Fulgham has only managed to tread water, while receivers like Montrell Washington, Brandon Johnson, Seth Williams and Kendall Hinton have risen to the occasion.
Waived: Jamar Johnson | S
A fifth-round pick last year, Johnson was among GM George Paton’s first draft class. A poor rookie season did him no favors, and despite leading the Broncos in tackles in preseason Game 1, Johnson failed to show the kind of physicality and hitting reliability the coaches asked of him.
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 eclipsed by his poor tackling acumen. While Johnson’s classmate Caden Sterns earned a defensive role as a freshman, becoming the No. 1 safety. Denver’s 3, Johnson fumbled.
Meanwhile, the Broncos brought in safety reinforcements last offseason in the form of former LA Ram JR Reed and fifth-round draft pick Delarrin Turner-Yell. Adding insult to injury, a holdover from the Vic Fangio regime — PJ Locke — has turned a corner, earning the trust of Denver’s young coaching staff. Happy trails, Johnson.
Waived: Rodney Williams | THE
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 tight end on Denver’s tight end depth chart.
reaction: Williams was always swimming against the grain. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that tight end is a roster strength, the Broncos have invested in plenty of players not named Williams this year — including re-signing veterans Andrew Beck and Eric Saubert, as well as acquiring free agent Eric Tomlinson.
Not to mention the third round investment in Greg Dulcich. Throw into the equation Albert Okwuegbunam and another undrafted rookie, Dylan Parham, and Williams just didn’t have a big enough seat at the table for the Broncos’ new coaches to see.
With the exception of Jamar Johnson, the Broncos didn’t have a free agent investment on Tuesday. Each player who was released hailed from a position group full of competition.
The guys initially shown the door by Denver just didn’t show enough to justify staying beyond this first wave of cuts. But each player had his chance to prove that he 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 origin, is limited. In the NFL, this handful of players were unequal to his 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 left to go, the competition for open roster spots will continue to take shape.
Next up for the Broncos is a preseason road trip to take on the Buffalo Bills on Saturday.
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