The Denver Broncos stood pat with their 2020 draft picks and added 10 more players to the roster. This will leave the Broncos with 87 players under contract with a 90-man roster limit for the offseason.
There will likely be some undrafted free agents added in the next 48 hours, and while the Broncos have plenty of cap space, which should come out to around $12M once draft picks are signed (remember, only the top-51 cap hits count toward the cap during the offseason), the team will likely need to part ways with a few players already under contract if they want to add multiple UDFAs.
While those players let go will most likely be those under futures contracts, there could be at least one veteran and a couple of recent draft picks who could be on the outside looking in. Here are a few names to watch as potential cut or trade candidates in the coming days.
Jeff Heuerman, TE
No other veteran is more likely to be a candidate for release than the sixth-year tight end whom the Broncos drafted in the third round in 2015. After the Broncos signed Nick Vannett back in March and drafted Albert Okwuegbunam in the fourth round of the 2020 draft, there's simply no room for Heuerman on the roster.
Heuerman carries a cap charge of $4.374 million but the good news is that none of his salary is guaranteed, meaning the Broncos would free $3.875M in cap space with a $500,000 dead money charge if he's released.
The Broncos reportedly tried to trade Heuerman in a draft day move but couldn't pull it off. Hanging onto the veteran doesn't make sense, because it's not likely teams will give up even a seventh-round pick in next year's draft for him. As Andrew Brandt often puts it, if a team wants to unload a veteran late in the offseason, other teams will just wait until he's cut.
So the Broncos should do right by Heuerman and let him go if they don't complete a trade in a couple of days. There's no point to keeping him around when his chances of making the roster are slim to none, with slim about to leave town.
Jake Butt, TE
The 2017 fifth-round pick is in a similar situation. Though he showed promise in his college days at Michigan, he hasn't been able to stay healthy. As they say, the best ability is availability and Butt has yet to play even four games.
Butt might be kept for the time being because his cap charge is small and, if he were to impress in training camp, a team might trade for him. That team would not only get Butt on a cheap contract, but would be able to give him a restricted free-agent tender in 2021.
Butt will be an RFA because, after spending most of his rookie year on the physically unable to perform list, he didn't accrue a season toward free agency. With that said, the Broncos might not bother prolonging the situation and just let him go if they feel comfortable with the rest of the depth they have at the position.
DaeSean Hamilton, WR
The Broncos drafted three wide receivers over the weekend, including two back-to-back to open the proceedings. A fourth-round pick in 2018, Hamilton hasn't taken off like some expected. While quality depth is the traditional expectation for a fourth-rounder, the Broncos added three wide receivers in this year's draft. It makes you wonder if the Broncos will move Hamilton.
In this case, there's a chance the Broncos can get a draft pick for Hamilton if they find a team that thinks he will be a good scheme fit. I wouldn't expect the Broncos to cut him at this point, but if a team is interested in sending a late-round pick in 2021 to try him out for the next two seasons, I would certainly consider it.
Andrew Beck, TE/FB
Though Beck did good things last season when he took the field, Pat Shurmur's offense doesn't utilize a fullback. The Broncos have already traded Andy Janovich and I wouldn't be surprised to see the team eventually part ways with Beck.
Beck can play tight end, but as with others I've mentioned, the Broncos have a lot of players competing for a finite number of roster spots at this position. I'm not sure if the Broncos could get a draft pick for Beck, given that his market may be limited. It won't surprise me if he's waived after the Broncos add UDFAs.