Despite the NFL Lumberjack Day of cutdowns, the Broncos’ 53-player roster is not quite set in concrete.
More like quicksand.
The Broncos don’t even possess Nos. 2 and 3 quarterbacks. Who’s the backup – River Cracraft?
Heedless Horsemen and Ichabod Cranes were carping about the John Elway-Vic Fangio chosen 52 (one shy) Saturday as if this is the final final and monumental mistakes were made.
Brendan Langley wasn’t about to stick with the Broncos as a cornerback, a wide receiver, a returner, a special teams specialist or a carpet sweeper. You can shake the trees, and the Langleys and Deyon Sizers and guys named Stephens and Thomas will fall out all over the ground.
What a shock! Kevin Hogan and Brett Rypien were released.
The list of available quarterbacks got considerably longer Saturday, and the Broncos most likely will try to sign 33-year-old veteran Brian Hoyer (16-21 record as a starter), who was released by the Patriots. “We’re exploring all options,” John Elway said of the search – as one team’s garbage becomes another team’s treasure, or so it is hoped.
Rypien always was destined to be on the practice squad, and Kevin Bacon has the same chance as Kevin Hogan of ever being a prized NFL quarterback.
If backup quarterback is the primary problem, as misguided missives believe, then there should be great joy in Broncoville. Should Joe Flacco be injured at any point in the coming season, the Broncos are done, anyway.
The real trouble in paradise is the recent 40-something cuts were so easy. The Broncos had a lot of applicants who were not qualified and will end up working in the XFL or for UPS. And they still have players on fluid roster who are not so capable. Elway pointed out that Cracraft is the punt returner and sixth receiver until he is not.
That’s why there will be changes, corrections and conversions between Sunday and the opening game in Oakland.
It’s not as if the Broncos traded Von Miller, pruned Royce Freeman or removed Derek Wolfe. Practically all those who are gone were unheard of or from, and the Broncos retained “Josh Watson I presume’’ and Jake “Not The Snake’’ Rodgers on the, uh, active list – for the moment.
Before you even read this the Broncos were scrutinizing every other NFL franchise’s waiver lists for warm, intriguing bodies and nobodies who play specific positions (quarterback, fullback, offensive tackle, inside linebacker, tight end).
Elway announced Saturday afternoon that Drew Lock, Jake Butt and Theo Riddick will be placed on injured reserve, and only two, by rule, will be eligible to return in eight weeks. Lock would have been the No. 2 QB; Butt was supposed to be a contributing tight end, and Riddick was signed as a third-down back. When Lock tore a ligament in his right thumb, I reported, based on a reputable professional team doctor’s evaluation, that he would be sidelined six weeks or more although others claimed he might miss two weeks. Elway acknowledged that Lock “is several weeks away”, confirming the report. He won’t be back this season, and Butt and Reddick also won’t be ready any time soon.
So the Broncos must add at least four players, and probably six (subtracting a couple).
They also will form a practice squad of 10, most likely to include Rypien, offensive lineman Sam Jones, Jamal Carter, Khalfani Muhammad, Fred Brown, Quinn Bailey, Alijah Holder, Ahmad Gooden, Trey Johnson and Sizer.
A bunch of ex-Broncos have been thrust into the open market, but Elway won’t revisit first-round draft picks Paxton Lynch and Shane Ray, or Brandon Marshall, Kayvon Webster, De’Angelo Henderson, Britton Colquitt and A.J. Derby. Marshall might be a popular choice, except to those who questioned his National Anthem kneeing. Brock Osweiler is not coming back for a third stint.
The Broncos may have thought about Colorado exhibition quarterback dreamboat
Kyle Sloter or Demaryius Thomas, a shocking cut by the Patriots Saturday. Instead, they are expected to resign inside linebacker Corey Nelson.
Elway said they already have a deal with a free agent.
The Broncos are 10th on the waiver wire.
But, what about that critical backup quarterback?
“We’ll get somebody in there,’’ coach Vic Fangio said, with no outward appearance of fretfulness.
Stay healthy, Joe.