Broncos Camp: 10 Vets Who Could be on the Bubble
But even with a tougher situation for undrafted rookies and those low on the depth chart to make an impact, there are still some players from the 2019 roster whose jobs aren't secure.
Here are 10 veteran players who were with the Broncos in 2019, who could find themselves in a battle to make the 53-man roster, or even a place on the practice squad.
1. Jeff Heuerman | TE
No veteran on the roster is in a tougher spot than the former 2016 third-round pick. With a $3M base salary that becomes fully guaranteed if he's on the roster for Week One of the regular season, that's too much money for somebody who would be buried on the depth chart.
Some might wonder why Heuerman is still around at all, but he would give a veteran presence if another veteran tight end is injured. But that's likely the only hope Heuerman has to remain a Bronco going into the regular season.
2. Jake Butt | TE
We'll stick with the tight end position because it's a crowded roster. The Broncos took a chance in the fifth round in 2017 on Butt, who was coming off an ACL injury.
Butt hasn't been able to stay healthy, though, and this may be his last chance to show he can contribute. The new practice squad rules gives him an opportunity to catch on there.
But time is running out on a player who has seldom taken the field the past three seasons.
3. Troy Fumagalli | TE
Fumagalli has stuck around as a depth player the past two seasons, but he hasn't contributed much even in that role. Andrew Beck, for instance, has shown more as a depth player in just one season.
If Fumagalli wants to be the fourth tight end on the main roster (assuming the Broncos keep four tight ends there), he has a lot of work ahead of him. That may be true for him to make the practice squad, too.
4. DeMarcus Walker | DL
We've seen flashes from Walker in recent seasons, but the 2017 second round pick finds himself in a battle to make the roster now.
The Broncos selected McTelvin Agim in the third round of the 2020 Draft, then signed Christian Covington as a free agent. That puts Walker on notice: He needs to earn his roster spot or the Broncos could move on to free $1.15M in cash and cap.
If Walker doesn't make the cut, he might be considered for the practice squad, given the new eligilbilty rules.
5. Joe Jones | LB
Jones made his mark on special teams in 2018, but injuries sidelined him for the early part of 2019. Other players emerged as special teams contributors, leading to the Broncos not tendering him as a restricted free agent, then signing him to a one-year, $825,000 deal.
After the Broncos took Justin Strnad in the fifth round of the 2020 Draft, though, Jones' spot isn't exactly secure. If Strnad is healthy and makes an impact, it's likely the Broncos move on from Jones, and there's no guarantee he would be added to the practice squad.
6. Tim Patrick | WR
Patrick has shown he's a quality depth player and special teams contributor, but he isn't starting material. Still, his game experience is a valuable asset.
But the Broncos could have different ideas about who fills in the depth spots at wide receiver. If somebody else can be that depth player and special teams contributor, Patrick might have to settle for the practice squad.
7. Juwann Winfree | WR
A 2019 sixth-round pick, Winfree is likely battling it out with Patrick for the fifth receiver spot.
Winfree didn't take the field much in his rookie season and, unlike Patrick, he didn't stand out on special teams when called into action. That might make it more difficult for him to make the final cut.
But a good showing in training camp might be the difference between Winfree making the 53-man roster or settling for the practice squad.
8. Diontae Spencer | WR
The Broncos claimed Spencer off waivers before the 2019 season started and, while it took him time to acclimate, he gave the Broncos a quality return man, something the team has lacked for some time.
Though Spencer fills an important role, the Broncos might be thinking about two 2020 draft picks taking return duties: second-round pick KJ Hamler and seventh-round pick Tyrie Cleveland.
It's likely the Broncos keep two players on the 53-man roster who can return punts and kicks. Given that Hamler's spot is secure, it may be between Spencer and Cleveland to determine who makes the main roster and who goes to the practice squad.
9. Malik Reed | OLB
One of the standouts of the 2019 preseason, Reed displaced others who were expected to fill the depth chart at edge rusher.
While Reed was decent in his rookie season, the Broncos got more production out of veteran Jeremiah Attaochu, who is back for 2020.
Throw in the selection of Derrek Tuszka and Reed finds himself in a battle to make the 53-man roster. If he doesn't make the cut, the expanded practice squad is a likely option.
10. Davontae Harris | CB
Another waiver claim before the 2019 season. Harris had his moments in limited playing time, though depth player appears to be his ceiling.
Harris will have to battle Isaac Yiadom for the fifth corneback spot, and it's possible the Broncos favor Yiadom, a former third-round pick who the Broncos still hope can develop into a good contributor.
Even if the Broncos keep six cornerbacks, undrafted rookie Essang Bassey may be a better scheme fit and give him the edge over Harris. If so, Harris' best bet may be making the practice squad.