The Denver Broncos are set to host the Dallas Cowboys for joint training camp sessions before the two teams face each other in a preseason outing on Saturday at Empower Field at Mile High.
Throughout training camp, a number of younger Broncos have made an impression, and that could mean the team might part ways with some veterans when final cuts are made.
In some cases, the Broncos already committed money to these players, but they may decide it’s better to move on from them and allow the younger players behind them their moment to shine.
Much can change between now and final cuts, particularly with how the players perform in game situations, though. Let’s look at the Broncos’ veterans who have the most to prove in the preseason games.
Josh Johnson | QB
The 36-year-old journeyman quarterback signed a one-year deal, with the expectation that he would become the primary backup to Russell Wilson.
Johnson, however, has not been particularly impressive in training camp. Meanwhile, third-year QB Brett Rypien has been solid, though he’s had his issues as well.
Still, it may make more sense to go with the younger Rypien as the backup passer. The Broncos have already paid Johnson a $100,000 signing bonus, but may decide it’s better to let Johnson go, keep Rypien as the 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 at the end of the 2021 season. However, the veteran may be caught up in the numbers game.
Even with the season-ending injury to Tim Patrick, younger receivers are in a better position to claim depth spots. Montrell Washington has been particularly impressive, and Brandon Johnson appears to have developed a rapport with Wilson.
And there’s no guarantee Fulgham will be on the practice squad, either, though he would be eligible. Fulgham isn’t due any guaranteed salary, though, so the Broncos wouldn’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 got $1 million guaranteed. The expectation was he would become the Broncos’ primary blocking tight end.
However, the Broncos then brought back Eric Saubert on a one-year deal, and he has been impressive in training camp. The Broncos also re-signed Andrew Beck, who is several years younger than Tomlinson.
The Broncos would have to swallow a lot of guaranteed money if they cut Tomlinson, though there would be offset clauses should he sign with another team. But if Beck and Saubert stand out in the preseason, the Broncos might find their hand forced.
Cameron Fleming | OT
Fleming was a late addition, signing just as the Broncos got training camp underway. 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 nail down the starting right tackle job with a good showing in the preseason. Also, the Broncos guaranteed a significant sum to Compton and Turner.
That likely means Fleming will be the odd one out when final cuts happen. The exception could be if the Broncos have to put either Compton or Turner on injured reserve to open the season — in which case the Broncos likely cut Fleming, but then bring him back after Week 1 so he doesn’t get his base salary guaranteed under the vested veteran rule.
Mike Purcell | DL
We’ve talked about Purcell many times, but he will have much to prove to demonstrate he should make the final roster, given his $3M base salary plus a $750K per-game roster bonus.
With that said, Purcell has been making his case during training camp that he deserves to stick around. However, the emergence of rookie fourth-rounder Eyioma Uwazurike in training camp is something to watch.
If Uwazurike impresses in preseason games, that might make Purcell’s situation only more tenuous. But a good showing from Purcell in the preseason could help his case to stay.
Malik Reed | OLB
Though Reed isn’t under a veteran contract, his $2.43M restricted free agent tender is still a significant sum — particularly for somebody who now finds himself further down the depth chart.
Baron Browning’s transition to edge rusher has gone well thus far, plus rookie second-rounder 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 rusher depth.
Reed likely has trade value, even at a $2.43M salary, because he would have to go through waivers. Meaning, teams in need of edge rusher depth, who are further down in waiver priority, will have an interest.
Sam Martin | P
Martin is entering the final year of the three-year contract he signed back in 2020. He hasn’t been terrible in his two years with the team, though he hasn’t stood out, either.
The Broncos added Corliss Waitman to compete for the punting job, and Waitman has looked good in training camp. If he keeps it up, the Broncos could part ways with Sam Martin.
Scroll to Continue
Martin is due a $2.25M base salary, so if Waitman outperforms him, cutting Martin will be an easy decision. We’ll see how things go for both players in the three preseason contests.
Follow Bob on Twitter @BobMorrisSports.
Follow Mile High Huddle on Twitter and Facebook.
Subscribe to Mile High Huddle on YouTube for daily Broncos live-stream podcasts!