The Denver Broncos were mandated to whittle their current 90-man roster down to 85 players by 2 pm MDT on Tuesday. Little more than an hour removed from the deadline, and we know which five players were handed their walking papers.
It's a 'necessary evil' and the worst thing about the jobs NFL coaches and general managers hold. But alas, you can't keep them all.
Who did the Broncos waive, and what is the takeaway from each cut? Let's dive in.
Waived: Max Borghi | RB
Borghi is an undrafted rookie and a former local prep-school star. The Broncos signed him last week after Damarea Crockett suffered a torn ACL and Melvin Gordon was managing a foot contusion that kept him out of practice.
Reaction: As cool as it would have been to see Borghi follow in the historic footsteps of another Colorado star who made good in Denver, the odds of him replicating Phillip Lindsay's early success with the Broncos were always slim. The Broncos needed a body to keep things moving during practice, and Borghi's five touches for nine total yards in preseason Game 1 were not enough to justify carrying him beyond Tuesday's deadline.
Waived: Kaden Davis | WR
Signed as a college free agent out of Missouri State, Davis arrived in Denver on the heels of the draft to bolster a wide receiver unit that was already a strength.
Reaction: This cut, alas, comes as no surprise as Davis failed to keep up with some of the other young wideouts who've managed to flash and climb Denver's depth chart this summer. Here's to hoping he lands on his feet.
Waived: Travis Fulgham | WR
Signed to a futures/reserve contract back in January, Fulgham arrived in Denver with a little NFL experience. He bounced around with three different clubs in 2021.
Reaction: The story on Fulgham mirrors Davis; he didn't do enough to keep up with the onslaught of 'risers' at wide receiver this summer. Even in the wake of Tim Patrick's season-ending injury halfway through training camp, Fulgham only managed to tread water while receivers like Montrell Washington, Brandon Johnson, Seth Williams, and Kendall Hinton have risen to the occasion.
Waived: Jamar Johnson | S
A fifth-round pick last year, Johnson was among GM George Paton's maiden draft class. A lackluster rookie season did him no favors and despite leading the Broncos in tackles in preseason Game 1, Johnson failed to show the type of physicality and tackling reliability that the coaches demanded of him.
Reaction: Johnson was known as a ball-hawk at Indiana, but what he brought to the table in coverage and as a football predator was eclipsed by his woeful tackling acumen. While Johnson's draft classmate, Caden Sterns, earned a role on defense as a rookie, becoming Denver's No. 3 safety, Johnson wilted.
Meanwhile, the Broncos brought in safety reinforcements this past offseason in the form of former L.A. Ram J.R. Reed and fifth-round draft pick Delarrin Turner-Yell. Adding insult to injury, a holdover from the Vic Fangio regime — P.J. Locke — has turned a corner, earning the trust of the new coaching staff in Denver. Happy trails, Johnson.
Waived: Rodney Williams | TE
The small-school tight end did not hear his name called on draft day, but the Broncos signed him as a college free agent. Williams joined a logjam on Denver's tight end depth chart.
Reaction: Williams was always swimming against the grain. While I wouldn't quite go so far as to say that tight end is a roster strength, the Broncos have invested in multiple players not-named Williams this year — including the re-signing of veterans Andrew Beck and Eric Saubert, as well as the acquisition of free-agent Eric Tomlinson.
Not to mention the third-round investment in Greg Dulcich. Throw into that equation Albert Okwuegbunam and another undrafted rookie, Dylan Parham, and Williams just didn't have a big enough seat at the table to flash for the Broncos' new coaches.
With the exception of Jamar Johnson, the Broncos didn't have an investment in the players let go on Tuesday. Each player who was released hailed from a position group rife with competition.
The guys initially shown the door by Denver simply didn't show enough to justify sticking around beyond this first wave of cuts. But each player had his opportunity to prove he belonged.
The NFL isn't called the 'Not For Long' league for nothing. A young player's window to catch on and stick, irrespective of draft pedigree, is finite. It's carpe diem in the NFL, and this handful of players was unequal to his opportunity.
The Broncos have to whittle the roster down to the final 53 players by 2 pm MDT on August 30. With two more preseason games left to go, the competition for what open roster spots remain will continue to take shape.
Next up for the Broncos is a preseason road trip to take on the Buffalo Bills on Saturday.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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