The Denver Broncos are set to host the Dallas Cowboys for joint training camp before the two teams face off in a preseason outing on Saturday at Empower Field in Mile High.
During training camp, a number of younger Broncos made an impression, and that could mean the team could part ways with some veterans when the final cuts are made.
In some cases, the Broncos have already committed money to those players, but they may decide it’s better to move on from them and let the younger players behind them have their moment to shine.
A lot can change between the current and final installments, especially in terms of player performance in game situations. Let’s take a look at the veteran Broncos who have the most to prove in preseason games.
Josh Johnson | QB
The 36-year-old journeyman quarterback signed a one-year deal with expectations that he will become Russell Wilson’s primary backup.
However, Johnson has not been particularly impressive in training camp. Meanwhile, third-year QB Brett Rypien was solid, though he too had his issues.
Still, it might make more sense to go with the younger Rypien as a backup pitcher. The Broncos have already paid Johnson a $100,000 signing bonus, but may decide it’s better to let Johnson go, keep Rypien as a backup and possibly add another young QB to the practice squad.
Travis Fulgham | WR
Fulgham has played 17 games in his three years in the NFL, including a brief appearance for the Broncos late in the 2021 season. However, the veteran could be caught up in the numbers game.
Even with Tim Patrick’s season-ending injury, the younger receivers are in better position to claim deep spots. Montrell Washington has been particularly impressive, and Brandon Johnson seems to have developed a rapport with Wilson.
And there is no guarantee Fulgham will be in the training squad either, although he would be eligible. However, Fulgham doesn’t receive any guaranteed salary, so the Broncos won’t be on the hook for any money if they cut him.
Eric Tomlinson | TE
Tomlinson signed a one-year deal with the Broncos last March and was guaranteed $1 million. He was expected to become the Broncos’ primary blocking tight end.
However, the Broncos then brought back Eric Sober on a one-year deal and he has been impressive in training camp. The Broncos also re-signed Andrew Beck, who is a few years younger than Tomlinson.
The Broncos will have to swallow a lot of guaranteed money if they cut Tomlinson, though there will be buyout clauses if he signs with another team. But if Beck and Saubert stand out in the preseason, the Broncos could find themselves forced.
Cameron Fleming | About T
Fleming was a late signing, signing just as the Broncos began training camp. He was added to give the Broncos a veteran presence with Billy Turner and Tom Compton headed to the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
But Calvin Anderson has made strides in training camp and has a chance to lock down the starting job with a good team with a strong performance in the preseason. In addition, the Broncos guaranteed a significant sum to Compton and Turner.
That likely means Fleming will be the odd one out when the final cuts happen. An exception could be if the Broncos have to place Compton or Turner on injured reserve to open the season — in which case the Broncos would likely cut Fleming, but then bring him back after Week 1 so he doesn’t get his primary salary guaranteed under the veterans rule.
Mike Purcell | DL
We’ve talked about Purcell many times, but he’ll have a lot to prove to demonstrate that he should make the final roster given his $3M base salary plus $750K per game bonus.
With that said, Purcell made his case during training camp that he deserves to stay. However, the emergence of fourth-round pick Eyioma Uwazurike in training camp is something to watch.
If Uwazurike impresses in preseason games, it could make Purcell’s situation even more tenuous. But Purcell’s strong performance in the preseason could help his case stick.
Malik Reed | OLB
Even though Reed isn’t on a veteran contract, his $2.43 million restricted free agent tender is still a significant amount — especially for someone now further down the depth chart.
Baron Browning’s transition to edge rusher is going well so far, plus second-round rookie Nik Bonitto has made a good impression. And then there’s Aaron Patrick, who has done well for himself and would be a much cheaper option for edge depth.
Reid likely has trade value, even at a $2.43 million salary, because he will have to clear waivers. That means teams in need of edge depth that are further down in waiver priority will have interest.
Sam Martin | P
Martin is entering the final year of a three-year deal he signed in 2020. He hasn’t been terrible in his two years with the team, though he hasn’t stood out.
The Broncos added Corliss Weightman to compete for the punt job, and Weightman has looked good in training camp. If he continues, the Broncos could part ways with Sam Martin.
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Martin is owed a base salary of $2.25 million, so if Weightman outperforms him, cutting Martin would be an easy decision. We’ll see how things pan out for both players in the three preseason contests.
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