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Denver Broncos No Bull Roster Analysis: Receivers

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Sadaraine takes a peek at the Denver Broncos roster and delves into our receivers (including tight ends)... Who do we have under contract? What did they look like on the field?

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Up next, we're going to dive into the Denver receivers. The purpose of this series is to take a peek at who we have on the team now as we prepare for Free Agency and the NFL Draft. Please note that while I'm going to throw out some basic stats for our guys, that's just for easy reference.  The core of my analysis on these guys comes from what I saw on the field.

Disclaimer: The No Bull Review is about what I see on Broncos game day. Players buried on the depth chart or practice squad might not be included.

Wide Receivers:

Andre Caldwell

Position Games / Started Tgt Rec Yds TD
WR 16 / 2 15 5 47 0

Current Contract Cap Hit Dead Cap
2nd of 2 years
~$1.5M
$200K

Caldwell really took a step forward last year as the biggest waste of a game day active spot since Lance Ball. He appeared to me to regress as a WR with sloppy routes and dropped passes and honestly appeared to be a liability on special teams as well. Suffice to say I doubt we'll keep him on the roster by the regular season, but if we do, I might might go into apoplectic shock.

  • Took ~16% of the offensive snaps
  • Touted as a burner, but has yet to show much in game field stretching

Isaiah Burse

Position Games / Started Tgt Rec Yds TD
WR 12 / 0 - - - -

Current Contract Cap Hit Dead Cap
1st of 1 year $510k -

Burse is a guy who I thought looked like he had upside last year from what we saw in the pre-season. We tried keeping him involved via special teams a lot during the season. We will need some depth guys going into the season and Isaiah will have his shot this training camp.

  • Took ~2% of the offensive snaps
  • His best attribute appears to be quickness in his route running

Cody Latimer

Position Games / Started Tgt Rec Yds TD
WR 8 / 0 4 2 23 0

Current Contract Cap Hit Dead Cap
2nd of 4 years ~$840k ~$1.35M

Last year seemed like a big loss for our newest high draft pick WR. I like a lot of Latimer's game. He's like a younger Demaryius Thomas: size, speed, great hands, etc. I expect his grasp of the playbook kept him out of the lineup mostly last year. He'll be on track this year to get involved though as we will need to replace Welker's snaps and maybe Julius Thomas's as well.

  • Took ~3% of the offensive snaps
  • Great leaping ability
  • Appears to have a very nice catch radius much like DT

Emmanuel Sanders

Position Games / Started Tgt Rec Yds TD
WR 16 / 16 141 101 1404 9

Current Contract Cap Hit Dead Cap
2nd of 3 years $5.85M $2M

It was a big win for us to sign Emmanuel last year as a free agent and he completely proved me right. He added a new layer to our offense by blowing the top off of defenses early and often. He's the kind of WR that any QB can love (not just Manning), so we'll hopefully see him stay in orange and blue for some time no matter our QB situation.

  • Took ~89% of the offensive snaps
  • Great speed and quickness
  • Underestimated route running capability...he'd be dangerous in the slot as well

Demaryius Thomas

Position Games / Started Tgt Rec Yds TD
WR 16 / 16 184 111 1619 11

Current Contract Cap Hit Dead Cap
UFA - -

DT is one of the top 5 WRs in the NFL. He is a guy that we should be keeping by either extension or franchise tag. Can we live without him? Yes. But should we? No way. It is hard finding a solid #1 WR. Teams can make it work with two #2s (or in KC's case you can just sign a bunch of #3 - #5 and ignore them in your offensive reads).

  • Took ~91% of the offensive snaps
  • Elite size / speed mixture
  • Doesn't play as big as he is which is frustrating at times

Tight Ends

Virgil Green

Position Games / Started Tgt Rec Yds TD
TE 13 / 9 6 6 74 1

Current Contract Cap Hit Dead Cap
UFA - -

This should be our #1 priority TE to resign this year. Virgil Green is a complete tight end who can get involved in every facet of the game. I was enjoying the back half of the year when we saw Virgil out in pass patterns more often and we should see more this year since I doubt that JT is coming back.

  • Took ~35% of the offensive snaps
  • Is hands down our best blocking TE from last year
  • Has extensive history as a pass catcher in college

Jacob Tamme

Position Games / Started Tgt Rec Yds TD
TE 15 / 0 28 14 109 2

Current Contract Cap Hit Dead Cap
UFA - -

Tamme is another player who I thought regressed last year, which is a shame since he's now an UFA. If he's not ready to hang them up, he'll probably land on a different team. I don't see him resigning here, nor would I want to sign him if I were the GM. We need better blockers at TE given the run game changes I would expect to see with Kubiak running the show.

  • Took ~25% of the offensive snaps
  • In the past has played as well at the slot as he has at TE in the passing game, but just looked slow this year

Julius Thomas

Position Games / Started Tgt Rec Yds TD
TE 13 / 10 62 43 489 12

Current Contract Cap Hit Dead Cap
UFA - -

Here is our elite red zone target TE. He really is if we are being honest and it is a very powerful tool for an NFL team to have. He has very good speed for a TE and can be dangerous in the open field. He blocks out defenders as good as anyone in the league. For those reasons, he'll probably sign somewhere for 7-9M / year. I don't see Denver doing that, though.

Here's my beef with JT: the dude doesn't appear by any stretch of the imagination to be invested in the game of football or the Denver Broncos. There were too many rumors floating around at the end of last year about him not playing when he was 90%. Sure that's smart as you are going to be an UFA so you don't want to cost yourself money by getting injured worse, but luckily for us, it shows your true colors. Also, what happened to his targets in the back half of the season? Even when he did come back, we didn't throw his way much. I think this has everything to do with Manning freezing him out because of his douchebaggery than any problem he had with his ankle. All of this is just my own opinion though. Only the people behind closed doors at Dove Valley know the truth and I expect we'll see the fruits of that soon with what they chose to do in Free Agency.

  • Took ~61% of the offensive snaps
  • Awesome red zone weapon
  • Red flags abound about effort, heart, and investment in the game

Closing Thoughts / Overview:

At WR, I can possibly see us signing a journeyman WR in free agency or drafting another guy with return skills to develop. I like where we are as far as 1-3 at WR though as long as we tag DT or resign him. If for some reason we don't sign him, look for Denver to either sign a decent Free Agent or spend another 3rd round or higher pick on a WR.

At TE we will need a lot of work done this year. I give JT about a 5% chance of coming back (that's about the chance of all other 31 teams seeing him the same way we do and not offering him more money). Tamme isn't coming back either. That leaves the position wide open. The good thing about this is that we have a lot of options in free agency at TE. Expect us to resign VG and sign another free agent TE soon.