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Roster bubble guys the Broncos should keep an eye on

Salary cap cuts have already started around the NFL and the Denver Broncos could find some real value.

NFL: New England Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars
Jackson back to Denver is one reunion we should all root for.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

In an attempt to put off writing a television script for a class I’m taking, and/or doing my day job, better inform myself of the upcoming free agent class I’ve been poring over the names floating around the net, as well as the 2019 cap figures for teams. While doing so, Mile High Report’s Scotty Payne shared this beauty from Spotrac:

Potential 2019 NFL Roster Bubbles | Spotrac Research

The first edition of our annual NFL Roster Bubble list highlights 80+ players who are trending toward the possibility of becoming a cap casualty for their respective team in 2019. We’ve broken this list down by position, including specific financial ramifications to trade or release each player next offseason.

Got to love it when a site dedicated to sports money does the legwork for you. Looking at their list and doing a little math makes it apparent how much bigger the free agent pickings could get for Elway. Here’s a few that make a lot of sense to me.

Offensive Line

This is one area where the Mike Munchak influence could really help the Broncos land a steal if Pittsburgh decides to move on from Marcus Gilbert and his $6 million cap figure. Gilbert has dealt with injuries the last two years but was still a solid performer when he made it to the field. With the Steelers in an awkward cap situation with Antonio Brown, they may need to trim fat off the roster elsewhere to retain ledger flexibility.

Another aging vet coming off injuries, T.J Lang could be a solid short term addition if the he’s deemed expendable by the Lions. A 2 time Pro Bowler during his time with the Packers, he’s a strong pass blocker that could help solidify the interior line.

If neither of those two strike your fancy there are some other names worth keeping track of. Andrus Peat from New Orleans, Ryan Schraeder from Atlanta, or Chris Hubbard from Cleveland could all become available. All have had better seasons than their 2018, but could rebound in Denver.

Defensive Backs

Jimmy Smith will be a name to keep an eye on as his near $16 million cap hit is a bit of an albatross for a Baltimore Ravens team that could really use additional cap space if they want to build around Lamar Jackson through free agency. He didn’t play terribly in 2018 and could fit into Fangio’s scheme as a perimeter corner.

A.J. Bouye is the first player from the Jacksonville Jaguars on this list, but hardly the last. They’re in complete cap hell due to the Blake Bortles contract and will need to make a tough cut or two in order to clear up their ledgers. Bouye was a top 20 corner last year but is due almost as much as Smith. He’ll be 28 this year and could take to the Broncos D like a fish to water.

Defensive Lineman

Malik Jackson is the obvious name, and if he winds up on the market its a business decision more than anything. While 2018 wasn’t his best season by any means, the former Bronco still managed to accumulate 22.5 pass pressures according to Sports Info Solutions. If Elway moves on from Derek Wolfe his former teammate makes a lot of sense as a replacement.

Another Bronco that could be a huge add if Jacksonville cuts him is Marcell Dareus, who may be the likeliest departure. His current cap number is just north of $10 million but the Jags wouldn’t be dinged for cutting him. The 2011 3rd overall pick isn’t the pass rusher Jackson is, but could really solidify the run defense.

Pass Catchers

Kyle Rudolph and Cameron Brate are the two names to really watch. Neither the Vikings or Buccaneers have a ton of cap room and could find some cash quick if they cut their tight end. Both would immediately slide into the Broncos offense as the best tight end since Julius Thomas was catching touchdowns from Peyton Manning, even if neither had their best season in 2018. Rudolph is a bit more one dimensional as a receiver but a bigger mismatch weapon, Brate’s a little younger.

Depending on how the Broncos proceed with Emmanuel Sanders, they may look at other teams cuts for a replacement. Spotrac’s big names include Antonio Brown, Allen Robinson, and DeSean Jackson but none of them seem like Elway signings. Some names that could make sense and slide in as a number 23 on the outside and bring a vertical threat to the offense are Allen Hurns of the Cowboys or Kenny Stills of the Dolphins. If Rich Scangarello isn’t as concerned with deep speed Marvin Jones or Mohamed Sanu would both serve as viable intermediate threats and provide a target over the middle.


Ryan Tannehill was recently released by the Miami Dolphins. Joe Flacco is likely on the trade market, but could be cut if the Ravens receive no offers. Nick Foles won’t return to the Philadelphia Eagles. Heck to the no on Blake Bortles. Any of the four could spark interest from Broncos Country as March looms, but count me out. Maybe I’m a fuddy duddy, but none of them are such upgrades over Case Keenum that it’s worth tying up $30+ million at quarterback.

I’ve gone on record as Keenum and a rookie or just the veteran in 2019, but will do so again here. It isn’t necessarily the exciting move and legitimately caps the Broncos Super Bowl odds next year, but it’s also the smarter long term play than chasing another band aid signal caller.

On to your Broncos links

Denver Broncos can now exercise contract options for multiple starters - Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos will have until March to exercise contract options on four veteran players.

GIF Horse - The Sixth Most Valuable Denver Bronco - Mile High Report

Emmanuel Sanders health could be huge for John Elway’s plans this Spring.

Should The Broncos Demand A Pay Cut From Case Keenum? – Thin Air

In my offseason roadmap, the first item on the list was as follows: “Do not cut Case Keenum, and do not renegotiate his contract.” While I will stand by that, I will cede that a cromulent case can be made in opposition, and it’s worth exploring a bit further what the Broncos can do if they feel that paying Keenum $18 million with a $21 million cap hit in 2019 in not appropriate.

What will the Denver Broncos do at quarterback? - Mile High Report

MHR’s Jeffrey Essary joined 1st & 10 @ 10 on Friday to share his thoughts on what John Elway will do.

Denver Broncos: How Vic Fangio built a defense from the ground up - Mile High Report

New Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio has proven he can not only coach, but build a top-caliber defense in this league.

Fangio: Broncos can’t put ‘Band-Aids’ on problems -

Vic Fangio is inheriting a Broncos team that just suffered back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since the Nixon administration. The new coach is not preaching patience in the turnaround.

Potential Broncos free agent target: Safety, Adrian Amos - Mile High Report

Safety Adrian Amos would be an excellent addition to the Broncos secondary.

Potential Denver Broncos free agent target: Linebacker, C.J. Mosley - Mile High Report

If C.J. Mosley hits the market, he figures to be the Denver Broncos top free agent target.

NFL free agents 2019: Complete list of best players available by position | NFL | Sporting News

The NFL’s offseason schedule is in full swing, beginning the countdown to free agency and the 2019 NFL Draft. And the 2019 list of free agents available is a good one.

Top 25 NFL free agents of 2019: Defenders dominate rankings -

With just three games remaining in the 2018 NFL season, Gregg Rosenthal takes a peek at the offseason talent market. Here’s a way-too-early list of the top 25 free agents of 2019.

NFL offseason QB movement: Where will Bridgewater, Foles sign? |

Denver: Sign a top-tier free-agent QB OR draft a first-round quarterback. The Broncos’ mission is the same as Jacksonville’s, though with John Elway’s history of drafting quarterbacks, I’d say they lean heavily on the first option. Elway called Case Keenum a “short-term fix” this offseason, and cutting him would leave a dead cap hit of $10 million—but the Broncos would absorb that if it means getting this position right. Foles, Flacco or Bridgewater could end up here, and they should jump at the chance to work with Elway while Vic Fangio gets his hands on a dominant defense. Flacco just turned 34, so he has at least another five years in him. An older quarterback getting carried to a Super Bowl victory by a top-ranked defense has been done in Denver before.

2019 NFL Draft QB Stats Report - Prospect Profile -

Hayden Winks ranks 16 of the top quarterback prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft solely based on their analytical profiles.

Kyler Murray’s best NFL fits: Redskins, Giants lead the way -

8) Denver Broncos Nearly three years after Peyton Manning retired, Denver is still looking for his long-term replacement, Case Keenum’s 6-10 season notwithstanding. General manager John Elway has leaned toward bigger quarterbacks in the past, drafting the 6-foot-7 Brock Osweiler and the 6-7 Paxton Lynch -- but it hasn’t exactly worked out. Osweiler (picked 57th overall in 2012) went 5-6 with a TD-to-INT ratio of 16:11 in Denver, while Lynch (picked 26th overall in 2016) went 1-3 with a TD-to-INT ratio of 4:4. So maybe Elway would be willing to move in a different direction with Murray. His 2018 rookie class included promising talents Bradley Chubb, Courtland Sutton and undrafted free agent Phillip Lindsay; hitting on Murray would help keep the Broncos on the right track.

Peyton Manning, David Cutcliffe on Duke QB Daniel Jones |

Several scouts wonder, has Cutcliffe coached a successful NFL quarterback since the Mannings? Before Peyton, he coached a high draft pick in Heath Shuler—a bust. At Duke, where he has coached since 2007, he produced journeyman backup Thad Lewis and former seventh-round pick Sean Renfree. But while Cutcliffe’s last NFL success story is Eli, he also hasn’t had a talent like that until now.

Sikkema’s 2019 NFL Mock Draft 6.0 - Page 2 of 3 - The Draft Network

19. Denver Broncos (via TEN): Christian Wilkins, iDL, Clemson *TRADE* TEN sends No. 19 No. 83 and No. 157 to DEN for No. 10. Whatever the result may be, whether that’s trading up or down, I don’t see the Broncos staying at No. 10 in this draft. They’re either going to need a quarterback badly and will move up, or they will have somehow addressed that need before the draft and will move back. In this scenario, I have them moving back to their benefit. While picking up an extra third and fifth round pick, the Broncos address one of their main needs with a player I think NFL teams will fall in love with by the time the draft rolls around. Wilkins is a guy you want on your football team, in character and talent.

NFL mock draft 2019: Giants, Jaguars, Broncos nab QBs in top 10; pass-rushers rule the board | NFL | Sporting News

10. Denver Broncos Drew Lock, QB, Missouri It’s not a secret that John Elway really likes Lock’s four-year starting pedigree and complete skill set. Lock has the arm to go with ideal size (6-4, 225 pounds), along with the fearlessness and elusiveness NFL teams like in an aggressive passer. This pick would get the Broncos out of the vicious recycling of quarterbacks and make them feel good about having a franchise type.

Looking around the rest of the NFL

Kyler Murray commits to pursuing NFL career -

The wait is over. Kyler Murray has chosen his soulmate: football. The dual-sport star announced Monday via Twitter he is committing to pursuing a career as an NFL quarterback.

Panthers re-sign Eric Reid to 3-year deal worth more than $22M -

The Carolina Panthers signed veteran safety Eric Reid to a three-year contract worth more than $22 million, NFL Network’s Michael Silver reports.

Panthers extend Eric Reid – ProFootballTalk

Before Reid signed with the Panthers, he hired the same lawyer Colin Kaepernick hired to sue the NFL for collusion. Reid was the first player to join Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem, and Reid remained unemployed for a suspiciously long time once his contract with the 49ers expired.

Cleveland Browns sign running back Kareem Hunt -

Kareem Hunt is back on an NFL team. The Cleveland Browns announced Monday that they have signed the running back, who was released by the Chiefs in late November after a video surfaced of Hunt striking a woman.

Browns sign Kareem Hunt, release statements to offset inevitable backlash | Touchdown Wire

The Browns just signed Kareem Hunt. Now, here come the statements.

5 Overrated Prospects For The 2019 NFL Draft - The Draft Network

TDN’s Jon Ledyard identifies five of the most overrated prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft, including two top-ranked pass catchers.

FMIA: From His Hollywood Haven, Julian Edelman Reflects on LIII MVP, His Path and Being a Perfect Patriot – ProFootballTalk

From his home in Hollywood, New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman talks to Peter King about Super Bowl LIII, his suspension and much more.

Report: Bob Costas removed from Super Bowl coverage for concussion remarks |

Costas was not with the broadcast team for Super Bowl LII between the Patriots and Eagles.

Trade, cut or keep Antonio Brown: Explaining the Steelers’ options for 2019 offseason | NFL | Sporting News

Browns cap hit would be a ridiculous number. The highest one-year cap charge we have seen is $19.3 million for Peyton Manning in 2012, and that was offset in part by the fact that the team declined an option on him.

Super Bowl LIII analysis with Devin and Jason McCourty |

The NFL should try and work out a deal with one of these leagues to take in players with practice squad eligibility. The game reps would benefit the players, like the work in NFL Europe once did for a lot of guys, and it’d be good for teams both in the NFL and whatever league it partnered with to do it.