The Broncos on Monday waived or released eight players, it was announced. Denver’s roster, which is currently at 82 players, must reach the league-mandated 80-player limit in order for the team to conduct full-squad training camp practices.
On Monday, not only was I keeping up with the Broncos transactions, but I was following along with all the other 31 teams in the NFL as they made similar moves. So far, there’s some interesting talent to be released and I’m hoping most of these players can latch on when things get back to normal next season.
Will they regret releasing any of these players? Let’s take a look.
Tre’ Crawford | LB | UAB
Crawford was an undrafted free agent in 2019 coming out of Alabama-Birmingham and he spent his rookie season with the Falcons. The Broncos signed him to a futures contract in early 2020 and it was thought he could compete as a special teams player and inside linebacker. He did show explosive traits at the UAB pro day before the draft, but Crawford’s best bet to make it in the NFL was on the inside even though he had some experience rushing the passer from the outside. The Broncos have plenty of talent at the linebacker position, and Crawford was going to be a long-shot to make the practice squad.
Nico Falah | OC | USC
Falah was picked up as an undrafted free agent out of USC in 2018 by the Titans. He didn’t make final cuts and found his way to the Jets for less than two months before the Broncos picked him up for their roster. He actually was on the Broncos active roster for the final 10 days of the 2018 regular season, but Falah was never activated on a game day. Falah is an athletic 300-pound man who could have developed into a swing player on the interior of the offensive line. Last May, Falah’s season was ended with an Achilles’ injury that put him on Injured Reserve for the entirety of 2019. The Broncos have more and better interior talent on the line after the draft and free agency, and that makes Falah expendable.
Riley Neal | QB | Vanderbilt
After the 2020 NFL Draft, the Broncos made a move to add a quarterback to the room. Neal was at Vanderbilt for one year after spending four seasons (including a redshirt year) at Ball State. He had prototypical NFL size (6-foot-4 and 225 pounds) but his accuracy and decision-making skills were lacking for the pro level. At best, Neal was a camp arm for the Broncos who would have almost had an impossible task just to make the practice squad.
Kelvin McKnight | WR | Samford
I liked what we saw from McKnight last year in training camp with the Broncos. He was picked up as an undrafted free agent out of Samford in 2019 and showcased the speed and quickness that made him a small-school star in college. McKnight did not make final cuts and spent some time with the Patriots last season before returning to the Broncos practice squad. He was signed to a futures contract in early 2020 and there was a thought that he could compete for a spot on the 53-man roster because of his skill as a wide receiver but also his potential as a return man.
Khalfani Muhammad | RB | Cal
The Broncos might have missed the mark by getting rid of Muhammad. He was a seventh-round pick out of Cal for the Titans in the 2017 NFL Draft. Muhammad found his way to the Broncos back in 2018 (after a stop with the Patriots) and he’s been on the practice squad trying to find his way to the active roster. Muhammad is fast as a runner and gets to top speed in a hurry. His big-play ability made him a standout player in training camp and the preseason, but when the Broncos added UDFA LeVante Bellamy after the 2020 NFL Draft, I knew Muhammad’s days were numbered in Denver. At the very least, I thought he would get a chance to prove that he should be near the bottom of the depth chart.
Kahani Smith | DB | UTEP
Smith was undrafted out of UTEP in 2019 and got a tryout invite with the Seahawks after the draft. The Broncos signed him to a futures contract in early 2020 and there was some thought that he could compete for a reserve safety spot in camp. Smith was productive in two years starting for the Miners in college and showed a nose for the ball with 10 pass breakups from the safety position in 2018. The Broncos don’t have a ton of depth at the safety position and getting rid of Smith before he has a chance to prove himself can be second-guessed.
Shakial Taylor | DB | Kansas
Taylor played at a couple of small colleges before finishing his college career with two seasons playing for the Kansas Jayhawks. He was a consistent starter, playing through injury to showcase leadership ability on the field. Taylor was added by the Colts as a UDFA after the 2019 NFL draft, but he ended up getting waived in late November. The Broncos picked him up off waivers and then signed him as an exclusive rights free agent for the 2020 season. There are a ton of questions at the cornerback position for the Broncos, so it’s interesting to note that the team is letting some of their young depth go before the start of camp.
Joel Heath | DE | Michigan State
The other seven players were waived due to their lack of experience, but Heath was released because he has been in the league and on an active roster for multiple seasons. He was undrafted out of Michigan State in 2016 and spent nearly four full seasons with the Texans. Injuries robbed him of playing time with the Texans over the years, and he made his way to Denver in 2019. He was added off waivers in late December and was thought to be in the mix for a rotational player up front on the defensive line. The Broncos have plenty of experienced talent up front and they even have some intriguing young prospects to monitor. Thus, there was no room for Heath.
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