The Denver Broncos will announce their roster by 4 PM today in John Elway's second season as executive vice president of the Broncos. In this press conference he'll announce Denver's final roster cut down in which they'll shed their current roster of 75 players down to just 53 players.
This is an interesting cut down because the Broncos have so many issues depth-wise. The Broncos have a quality starting lineup, with superstars and playmakers such as Peyton Manning, Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil, Champ Bailey, Ryan Clady and DeMaryius Thomas. However, as evidenced by their showings vs. Seattle and San Francisco, the Broncos have issues behind their starters. The second and third-stringers scored zero total points in the second half vs. the Seahawks and Niners. That is simply inexcusable.
There are way too many areas to cover. The Broncos right now have to make a decision at backup quarterback – do they go with Caleb Hanie, or do they go with Brock Osweiler? Hanie has a non-guaranteed contract and if he gets cut today, the Broncos don't owe him anything. Osweiler has struggled throughout the preseason, and as the backup quarterback in the preseason finale vs. Arizona after Hanie, he went 3/6 and threw an interception. He did lead the Broncos on a long drive that resulted in a field goal.
In this scenario, the Broncos can release Hanie, make Osweiler the backup quarterback, and designate Adam Weber as the third-string quarterback, or even designate him to the practice squad for yet another season. Barring a catastrophic situation, the Broncos won't likely use their third-string quarterback this season, and if they need to, they could always just activate Weber.
If the Broncos choose to keep Hanie, where he'll likely be Manning's backup, the Broncos would make Osweiler the third-stringer, while releasing Weber, where they would have the opportunity to re-sign him and place him on their practice squad. In this scenario though, the Broncos are paying both Osweiler and Hanie backup quarterback money, despite only one of them being needed as a true backup.
That is just the tip of the iceberg.
The running back situation is a little headache-inducing also. First thing's first, Willis McGahee and Ronnie Hillman will make the roster. FB Chris Gronkowski is also a virtual lock. The Broncos will only keep one FB on this year's roster, meaning they might keep four true running backs entering the 2012 season opener vs. Pittsburgh.
Jeremiah Johnson has been impressive this preseason, and he could conceivably make the roster. He was on the Broncos' roster for a few games in 2011. Knowshon Moreno hasn't been great, but he did have a solid showing at Arizona last night. Moreno had seven carries for 49 yards while playing the entire first half. Lance Ball barely played against the Cardinals, and he is currently listed as the backup running back to McGahee, so I would expect Ball to make the roster.
That means Denver either keeps three or four running backs. The three running backs that are likely to make the roster are McGahee, Hillman and Ball. If Denver wants to keep a fourth running back, it's between Moreno and Johnson.
Along the way, John Fox has to make decisions regarding defensive line, safety and wide receiver depth.
Along the defensive line, who will win out between young players such as Jeremy Beal and Malik Jackson?
Will the Broncos keep five safeties, or will they release David Bruton despite his special teams contributions?
Brandon Stokley didn't play vs. the Cardinals, so it appears he's a lock to make the roster, and likely serve as Denver's slot receiver. Will free agent signee Andre Caldwell make the roster? Who will be Denver's No. 4 and No. 5 receivers? Jason Hill disappeared down the stretch during the preseason. Matthew Willis can make contributions as not only a reserve receiver, but in specials teams too. Greg Orton was Denver's hero in last night's win, and he is only owed $390,000 for 2012 rather than Caldwell's near $1 million per season.
Come late afternoon today, we will find out just who, and who didn't survive the final roster cut down of the preseason.
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