After the Denver Broncos' preseason finale General Manager George Paton and Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett will meet and figure out how they will trim their roster down from 80 players to 53 players. During that process, we always see a cut and/or trade that comes out of nowhere and surprises everyone.
With a new coaching staff in town and a fairly new General Manager running the show, there’s always a chance a player you thought was a lock to make the team just isn’t in the team's plans. So, I will give you five(or more) players that could be a surprise cut and/or trade in the coming days as the Broncos trim their roster down to 53 players.
1. Outside Linebacker, Malik Reed
The Broncos have made some significant additions to their edge rushing group this offseason. First, they signed free agent Randy Gregory to a multi-year deal to be their starter. Then, they selected Oklahoma edge rusher Nik Bonitto in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Also, the emergence of Baron Browning and Bradley Chubb being healthy has made the Broncos' edge rushing unit overall pretty good and deep.
It also makes Malik Reed pretty expendable.
Browning could easily be the Broncos' third edge rusher and they didn’t draft Nik Bonitto to sit on the bench. Also, having 2021 seventh-round pick Jonathon Cooper on the roster to provide depth and play on special teams makes Reed expendable as well.
He is likely the Broncos' best and most logical trade chip this offseason and could net the Broncos a decent return. There is some depth issues on the team so Reed could be used in a player swamp scenario or just to add to Paton’s 2023 draft pick war chest that is lacking after the Russell Wilson trade.
With all that said, I could see a scenario where they decide to keep Reed. He has proven to be a solid depth option, but there are injury questions ahead of him, Browning is unproven, and you can never have enough pass rushers. So, we shall see how this shakes out in the coming days.
2. Wide Receiver, Kendall Hinton
The Broncos' depth at wide receiver is pretty deep and they have some tough decisions to make in the coming days at this position. One player who sticks out to me as a potential trade candidate is Hall Of Famer, Kendall Hinton.
He is a solid all-around player who is well deserving of a roster spot on the Broncos, but the depth behind him makes this tricky. I feel confident that Brandon Johnson is making the team and speedster Jalen Virgil is making a pretty good case for a roster spot as well. Plus, you have special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes pushing for Tyrie Cleveland to make the roster as well. So, you have some pretty tough decisions to make here.
In the end, I could Paton flipping Hinton to a wide receiving needy team much as he did with Trinity Benson last year. He could get a late-round selection back in return or get a player at a position of need as well.
This is a tough one, but someone has to go at the wide receiver position and I could totally see this scenario playing out.
3. Cornerback, Michael Ojemudia
I will start off by saying this one is probably unlikely, but it is something I personally could see happening. First, Ojemudia has had an up-and-down summer. Entering camp, he had some hype where he could be pushing to be a starter, but that never even came close to happening.
Then in the preseason, he had a rough Cowboys game where he left early to get tested for a concussion and then was picked on against the Bills before suffering an elbow injury. He’s viewed as a corner who likely will be called on at some point this season to start some games with the injury concerns ahead of him. So, these struggles are fairly concerning.
The addition of fourth-round pick Damarri Mathis who has looked solid this summer could push Ojemudia for a roster spot. Also, I could see Paton in the market for corner depth and if he were able to sign or acquire depth there, it could be at Ojemudia’s expense.
He is looking like another failed Elway third-round selection and I could see Paton moving on from him.
4: Punter Sam Martin
I do not have much to really say here, but veteran Sam Martin is in a punting battle with Corliss Waitman. I think most believe Martin is going to make the roster, but it sounds like Waitman is putting up a pretty good fight. Especially with the Broncos carrying two punters this long into the process.
The cap relief here is probably what goes against Martin. If the battle is close, I could see the Broncos going with Waitman to save that few million which they could use elsewhere this season or use to roll over into next season.
This a positional battle we will see continue into the preseason finale so we should have a good idea how things will shake out after Saturday’s game.
5. Quarterbacks Josh Johnson and Brett Rypien
For the last one, I am going to give you a wild one that is highly unlikely but not completely impossible.
Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett has stressed that he wants consistency from his quarterbacks. Reports from camp are that Josh Johnson wasn’t great and Brett Rypien probably isn’t good enough to be your lone backup. So, what if, the Broncos decide neither of these two is it and decide to add someone else during the cutdown period?
We will have a better idea of this situation after the preseason finale, but it’s hard to be confident in the Broncos' backup quarterbacks being able to do much in a pinch if needed. Thankfully, starting quarterback Russell Wilson has only missed three games during his 10-year career, so we hopefully will never have to see the backup play any meaningful downs.
I just have a hard time seeing the Broncos just rolling with one or both of these quarterbacks as the backups, but we shall see how it plays out.