Make Or Break Contract Players

Stuart BruntContracts, Pre-SeasonLeave a Comment

Entering the 2015-16 season training camps, the Broncos have 26 players entering the last year of their existing deals (excluding training camp players and futures players). Some have more chance to play than others, while some must really prove that they can come in at certain situations and play the system. Here are the 26 split down by position:


QB Brock Osweiller
QB Zac Dysert
HB Ronnie Hillman
HB CJ Anderson


T Chris Clark
T Ryan Harris
C Gino Gradkowski
G Ben Garland


TE Dom Jones
TE James Casey
WR Andre Caldwell


E Derek Wolfe
E Malik Jackson
DT Marvin Austin


Reggie Walker
Danny Trevathan
Von Miller
Lerentee McCray
Brandon Marshall
Todd Davis
Stevie Johnson


CB Tony Carter
S Josh Bush
S David Bruton
S Omar Bolden


K Brandon McManus


When you factor in the deal Thomas has just signed along with the roster bonuses due for Manning, Talib and Ware and its pretty safe to say there will be a lot of casualties from this list of 26. Here is a closer look at my top 10 to watch this season.

10. Brock Osweiller

Brock has completed 3 years of his 4 year apprenticeship sitting behind Peyton Manning and its time to show the NFL just what he has learnt. Peyton Manning will never be benched so Brock must take advantage of every second he has with the 1st string in front of him. I can see Brock impressing in preseason and hopefully through the regular season getting snaps here and there. The offense has evolved into a Brock friendly system with run plays galore and more naked bootlegs. He showed in college he has a cannon arm but lacks accuracy. If the Broncos win the Superbowl and Manning decides to walk away Osweiller should be next man up but with a demanding fan base, GM and players around him, he really needs to hit the ground running.

9. Andre Caldwell

Caldwell is the veteran receiver who holds his squad place due to be the number 1 returner. With Thomas resigning and the emergence of Sanders, Caldwell will struggle to see action if he loses his returner job to Omar Bolden or Solomon Patton. I have Caldwell as the 4th receiver on the Broncos depth chart as i believe Cody Lattimer barring injury will take the Z receiver role opposite Thomas with Sanders in the slot. I think the Broncos will let his deal run out allowing him to leave for free in 2016 offseason. He has shown in flashes when covering for injuries he can run a good route and has good strong hands. If Caldwell is to stay past 2015 he must play lights-out this preseason and beat out Cody lattimer into the regular Z receiver role.

8. Ben Garland

Drafted as a defensive tackle Ben Garland has developed into an interesting Offensive Lineman. With nimble footwork and tremendous work ethic to go along with his can-do attitude its a testament to the guy he makes roster after roster each year. I believe though that this is his year to shine. With no Air Force commitments to distract him and a struggling Oline, Garland must seize this opportunity to take the starting left guard spot from other contenders. Its a shame Clady is injured for the year as I feel he would of tutored Garland into a very good run blocking guard allowing the Broncos to run at ease going both left and right side. If Garland doesn’t force his way into the starting left guard position week 1, barring injuries to the line i cant see him getting play time leading to him not getting a new deal next year which truly would be a massive shame for all concerned.

7. Ronnie Hillman

The forgotten man in the over crowded stud filled stable that is the Broncos running back collective is Ronnie Hillman. Drafted as the change of pace Darren Sproles type player it hasn’t really worked out for him. He hasn’t been productive with his 4 yards per carry only scoring 6 TD’s in 3 seasons ( 5 rush and 1 receiving ). With the offense heading in to the 2015 returning to the zone blocking one cut style running game i can’t see Hillman forcing his way into the starting lineup ahead of Anderson and Ball. He may well become a casualty before the end of preseason as the roster gets trimmed to 53 players. With injuries taken into the equation and if Hillman gets his chance like he did against the 49ers last season where he had a stat line of 14 attempts 74 yards and 2 TDs he might force his way into the fold. I believe he will start preseason as the 4th running back so like Caldwell he must play lights-out every snap.

6. Derek Wolfe

Before the suspension I thought Wolfe would tear up the league as a left end in 3-4. Now though with the 4 game suspension i believe he will lose out on proving himself. On a very crowded defensive line at the start of camp and multiple players able to cover multiple positions missing 4 games is crippling to Wolfe. If Smith, Jackson, Walker, Williams,Ray and Ware all perform top notch i can see Wolfe getting cut as part of roster trimming down to 53. If that happens it will be a very disappointing end to his Bronco career. Wolfe was a big part of the defense last year as he ranked top 5 against the run. I hope he gets the opportunity to put the wrongs right but with a lot of players all trying to prove themselves and force their way onto the 53 roster, I believe it to be a tough decision to keep wolfe around past camp.

5. Malik Jackson

Jacksons playing time has just increased significantly after the Wolfe suspension. I love the intensity Jackson shows on every snap he plays. He has the skill set to beat out other veterans trying to get playing time on the lefthand side of 3. With Miller or Ray rushing from the same side Jackson will get a lot of opportunity to make plays as he will see every snap as a 1 on 1 with Miller warranting the double team. As long as complacency or injuries strike Jackson he will put on his best ever numbers cementing his place as a penned in starter.

4. CJ Anderson

CJ has a starting job which is his to lose. The undrafted free agent has proved how talented he is and to ensure a new deal next year he must keep out Ball, Thompson and Hillman which i believe he is more than capable of doing. Cj’s one cut slashing style plus his size will excite the coaching staff at Dove Valley as will Montee Ball’s style. If Anderson stays injury free and stops the silly fumbles he will get 1400+ yards comfortably. His pass blocking has improved as last season unfolded giving him another ace up his sleeve over the other 3 contenders. I have no doubt he will get a deal which will be fantastic news for the Bronco fan base.

2= Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan

Both guys are moving inside from outside linebackers and both have had injury concerns the past 2 years. On the plus side they have both led the Broncos in tackles the past 2 years, each covering the other after season ending injuries. I don’t think they are big enough to play regular as inside linebackers especially in the run game however, in pass playing downs they are move than capable of covering slot receivers or tight ends. If both guys go the full season injury free they will both post 75+ tackle seasons and anchor a very good and very fast Broncos defence resulting in them both getting new deals. On the flip side of this, if either or both get injured I don’t think a deal will be on the table too long for them which will leave a massive hole in the Broncos defence especially with Reggie Walker and Stevie Johnson as backups. I’m looking forward to seeing these guys flying round and disrupting plays along with Ware and Miller I think the Broncos will have a lot of sacks, tackles for loss, pass break ups and all should go to the pro bowl. Fingers crossed we have no injuries at linebacker.

1. Von Miller

Of course Von Miller is number 1. He is the best pass rushing linebacker in football and hopefully with all the injuries and suspensions out of his system he will flourish in Wade Phillips 3-4 system. The problem I have with him is he will be expecting Justin Houston money and Denver can’t afford that when the Thomas, Manning Ware and Talib money is factored into the equation. If he goes all next season under the franchise tag will he then say ok i’ll sign with the Broncos as a free agent? He is of course walking a suspension tight rope which must be taken into consideration when negotiations start. His skill set speaks for its self as do his 227 tackles 49 sacks in 4 years as a pro. Despite injuries and suspensions he has out performed Houston until last season. If Miller puts up 70 tackles and 22 sacks 3 force fumbles and defensive player of the year will he get the 15 million he deserves? It will be interesting to see how Miller plays in his contract year. In my opinion if Thomas is a must keep on offense Von Miller is more than his equal in terms of importance to the defence.

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