The Denver Broncos have been surprisingly busy for the day before cut-down day.
That’s right, tomorrow the Broncos have to trim their roster down to 53 active players, which is a task made only more difficult due to the lack of a preseason this year. And, Denver got going early when they released linebacker Todd Davis on Friday afternoon.
It was a surprising move because Davis was with the team for the last six seasons and was slated to start at one of the inside linebacker positions next to Alexander Johnson. Davis led the Broncos the last two years in combined tackles with 134 and 114 respectively, and was set to be the veteran in the middle of the defense next to a group of much younger players.
Davis’ cut was a huge surprise, but the team did give him the chance to possibly join another team. And, it was far from the only move Denver’s made in terms of the linebacking corps.
Earlier in the week, the Broncos signed Mark Barron, who will be the team’s nickel linebacker, tasked with covering tight ends when needed. Barron played safety for years before moving over to linebacker, so he should be up to the task.
Then, also on Friday, the Broncos traded defensive tackle Christian Covington to the Cincinnati Bengals for linebacker Austin Calitro. Calitro is a third-year linebacker who’s played in 29 games, starting nine and racking up 85 combined tackles with two passes defended and 1.5 sacks.
But Calitro seems to be a backup to either Johnson or possibly Barron; so, what will the team do in terms of their other inside linebacker?
According to Brandon Krisztal, the Broncos will turn to third-year player Josey Jewell to start alongside Johnson. While Alexander Johnson is the athletic, do-it-all type linebacker, Jewell is a more traditional, run-stuffer at the position.
Jewell has been decent in his two seasons with Denver, but not great. His lack of athleticism and speed kept him from the field as Johnson leap-frogged him on the depth chart and excelled the rest of the season. Now the two will line up next to one another with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb as the starters at outside linebacker.
Behind Johnson and Jewell are also Justin Hollins, Joe Jones and Josh Watson, although not all of them will make the 53-man roster.
And, what about Myles Jack? The Jaguars are reportedly looking to either trade him or cut him. But Benjamin Allbright insists the Broncos aren’t looking to trade for him at this time.
With little more than a week until the season kicks off — on Sept. 14 against Tennessee — the Broncos are still juggling with their starting lineup on both sides of the ball. Without a doubt, there’s a ton of new faces on Denver’s starting 22 — with the offense also learning a new playbook — meaning growing pains are likely on the way for the orange and blue.
Notes: Cutting Todd Davis saved the team $4.5 million toward the salary cap, meaning Denver is now $30.2 million under the cap for 2020. They can roll that money into 2021, meaning they will be primed to reload next offseason.
Also, the Broncos will wear their blue alternate jerseys for the season-opener. That game is on Monday Night Football against the Titans who went to the postseason last year.