Recapping the 11 Roster Moves Broncos Made to Cut Down to 79 Players
The Denver Broncos roster now sits at 79 players after the team waived eight guys, released two vets, and saw one veteran opt-out due to the pandemic. Here's a quick recap, all in one place, of all 11 roster moves.
Riley Neal | QB: Neal played college ball at Vanderbilt and was signed to be a camp arm with the highest possible ceiling being a No. 3-caliber QB if he could unseat Brett Rypien. Alas, due to the pandemic, Neal will never get the chance, at least not in Denver.
Tre' Crawford | LB: Crawford was signed to a futures deal back in January. He simply wasn't afforded the chance to bond or gel with his coaches, thanks to the entire on-field portion of the Offseason Training Program being canceled this year.
Kelvin McKnight | WR: Signed as a college free-agent last year, McKnight was a smallish slot receiver with returner upside. He'll have to hope to land elsewhere.
Khalfani Muhammad | RB: This one will disappoint some fans. Viewed as a 'Phillip Lindsay-lite', Muhammad shined during the 2019 preseason. Although it wasn't enough to make the 53-man roster, it was enough to stick with the organization for more than a year.
Kahani Smith | S: Signed as a futures project late last season, Smith was another victim of the pandemic.
Shakial Taylor | CB: Taylor offered some intrigue when the team added him off waivers in November of last season. Alas, the coaches had enough exposure to the player since last fall in order to make a confident decision, though it's still an unfortunate development because, in a traditional NFL summer, you never know what sort of opportunity preseason snaps could have afforded him.
Nico Falah | C: Arriving as a waiver claim in late 2018, Falah suffered a season-ending lower-leg injury in the summer of 2019 and now he's out the door. The Broncos are stout on the interior offensive line and have some depth following the draft.
Zimari Manning | WR: Hailing from the small-school Tarleton State, not much is known about the undrafted rookie save for the fact that he produced some big numbers in Division II football.
Joel Heath | NT: A vested veteran, Heath is a former Houston Texan who brought some girth and experience to the nose tackle position but the Broncos feel they can make do with Mike Purcell.
Jeff Heuerman | TE: The Broncos moved on from their 2015 third-round pick due to the logjam at tight end. The move freed up $3.875M on the salary cap.
Kyle Peko | DL: The fifth-year trenchman decided to opt-out of the 2020 season due to the coronvacirus. Based on his age relative health as a professional athlete, Peko himself might not be considered high-risk for COVID-19 but his wife's immune system might still be compromised in the wake of her successful battle with cancer last year.
Understandably, Peko isn't willing to roll the dice on the chance of possibly exposing her to the bug. The Broncos gave Peko the higher-risk opt-out designation, which means he'll receive a $350K stipend for sitting out the 2020 season.
With the roster whittled down to 80 players, the Broncos can now move forward with training camp without having to cut the team into two squads and walk the convoluted high wire of basically running two different teams. The Broncos are 10 players fewer than they were but at least the team can attack what will be a very unique training camp on a united front.