The deadline for NFL teams to have their preseason rosters cut down to the final 53 players isn't til Saturday, August 31 at 2pm MDT but the Denver Broncos didn't wait to begin the process.
Friday's roster cuts might not have represented a ripping off of the band-aid from a meta sense but in a micro sense, absolutely. GM John Elway had to swallow his pride on a couple of the players the Broncos parted with on Friday. More on that shortly.
Before the news of the first cuts began to trickle in, the Broncos consummated a trade with New England for DB Duke Dawson, a former 2018 second-round pick. It's unclear whether he'll play cornerback or safety but my educated guess would be the former.
The Broncos aren't lacking in safety talent and depth. And they're not really hurting for cornerback depth either, which made some fans raise their eyebrows, but when Elway could get a former top-90 graded draft prospect by simply swapping late-round picks with the Patriots, he's going to pull that trigger.
Dawson will be on the opening day roster in Denver. As for the roster cuts, let's go through each one and get the context of what it all means.
Su'a Cravens, S: This is the one that likely hurt Elway's pride the most, and understandably so. The Broncos went out on a limb to acquire him from Washington via trade two springs ago but the bitter truth was, Cravens' heart didn't appear to be in the game, as evidenced by him finishing the final three games of last season as a healthy scratch.
With the arrival of Vic Fangio, the young DB had a shot at a clean slate but he was unable to seize the day. With the exception of one play, Cravens was just a guy during Denver's grueling five-game slate of preseason games. Considering the depth the Broncos have at the safety position, and the type of culture Fangio is trying to instill, it's no surprise Cravens found himself on the outside looking in and one of the first players cut to boot.
Don Barclay, OL: Barclay, I thought, showed some promise initially as a rotational O-lineman who could swing between tackle and guard. But his play on the field, once the Broncos got to the preseason, was wildly inconsistent. This is a position (depth OL) the Broncos will pursue hard on the waiver wire this weekend.
Brendan Langley, WR: This one might have galled Elway a little, too, but at the end of the day, this was the second time Langley has been waived by the Broncos. As a 2017 third-round pick of the team's, Langley's draft pedigree kept him hanging on about six months longer than his play probably justified. It's extremely rare that a player switches from a defensive position to offense in the NFL and finds a way to succeed. Langley was no exception.
Adam Bisnowatay, OL: The Broncos added Bisnowatay to open the preseason and he just never could distinguish himself as a viable swing guy. As one of the first players cut, the implication is the Broncos were less-than-impressed with his offering this summer.
Jake Brendel, C/OG: Despite getting the start at center in the preseason finale, Brendel really struggled against the Cardinals. He was quickly subbed out, punctuating his lackluster preseason with the Broncos. After Brendel had been pulled from the game, the Broncos began to find traction on the ground and it was no coincidence.
Rashard Causey, CB: Causey was added right after the Hall of Fame Game and just never had enough time to really set himself apart. As one of the first wave of cuts, it's extremely unlikely the Broncos will even consider re-signing him to the practice squad.
Steven Dunbar, Jr., WR: In five preseason appearances this summer, Dunbar was only able to haul in four receptions for 19 yards and three of them came in Game 1. On a depth chart as stacked as Denver's WRs is, Dunbar simply failed to distinguish himself as anything other than a JAG.
Chaz Green, OL: This move was inevitable. The Broncos signed Green earlier this spring and with some starting experience, there was some cautious optimism that Mike Munchak could make some lemonade but alas, Green was a categorical failure. I'd go so far as to say he was a liability every time he stepped out onto the field, especially at tackle.
Linden Stephens, CB: This one is bittersweet. Stephens has played solid football at corner for Denver this summer but it's a position of strength and the Broncos just added a former high-round pick. A day ago, I would have said that Stephens was a good practice squad candidate but it doesn't appear the Broncos are thinking that way.
David Williams, RB: Like Langley, this is the second time Williams has been cut by the Broncos. As the team's 2018 seventh-round pick, he was left on the cutting room floor at the end of last summer, bounced around the league for a year, and ended up back in Denver just in time for training camp. Williams' problem is that he's painfully slow out there on the field, especially compared to running backs like Khalfani Muhammad and Devontae Jackson, whom Williams was competing against. Happy trails, friend.
Dadi Nicolas, DE: Nicolas was a late addition this summer. His egregious penalty right in front of the coaches in the preseason finale sealed his fate.
Ryan Crozier, C: Crozier was an undrafted rookie, which distinguishes him in this group. The Broncos put him on the waived/injured list but it came after a long summer of struggles for the former UConn standout.
The Broncos still have 20-plus cuts to go before the deadline but that appears to be it for now. If anything moves on the roster cuts front, well report posthaste.
In the meantime, make sure you bookmark our roster cuts tracker.