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Shaping Broncos' roster,---$$$

By making moves involving Jarvis Green, Brandon Stokley and Alphonso Smith, Denver squanders about $6 million. By Mike Klis
The Denver Post
Posted: 09/05/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT Updated: 09/05/2010 02:37:32 AM MDT
DENVER - AUGUST 21: Cornerback Alphonso Smith #22 of the Denver Broncos signals to the bench against the Detroit Lions during preseason NFL action at INVESCO Field at Mile High on August 21, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Lions defeated the Broncos 25-20. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Alphonso Smith (Getty Images North America | Doug Pensinger)

Coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Brian Xanders admitted their own mistakes Saturday in making final cuts to the Broncos' roster. Now, if the Broncos' football operation bosses can do something about their initial player evaluation process.

McDaniels and Xanders set the 53-man roster while dumping an armored truck worth of dead money in their wake.

Among the more notable player moves were the release of defensive end Jarvis Green, who will collect $3.255 million without ever stepping on the field for the Broncos, and Marquez Branson, who had been the team's top receiving tight end through the offseason and preseason.

Popular and productive receiver Brandon Stokley was placed on injured reserve until a

settlement terminates his contract, which has already paid him $600,000 in bonuses this year.

 

"It's hard to make it as a backup slot receiver," Stokley said. "I think that was the main thing. And one that doesn't play special teams. So I think all that added up to me being released."

The team also released backup linebacker and special-teams standout Darrell Reid, whose offseason knee surgery made him a candidate for the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, and guard Seth Olsen, a fourth-round pick in 2009.

And then there was the most startling admission of all, that giving up a future first-round draft pick (which turned out to be Seattle safety Earl Thomas at No. 14 overall this year) for cornerback Alphonso Smith a year ago was an unfortunate error in judgment.

Smith, who received a $2.15 million signing bonus as the No. 37 overall selection in the 2009 draft, was traded to Detroit in exchange for Dan Gronkowski, a seventh-round pick in the same draft who will replace the disappointing Branson as the Broncos' new receiving tight end.

The teams also traded undisclosed draft picks.

The one-day total of wasted money: $6.01 million on Green, Smith and Stokley.

"It's a

All Things Broncos blog

The Denver Post's NFL reporters post analysis, notes and minutiae on this blog devoted to the Denver Broncos.

what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business," Stokley said. "You have to prove yourself every year. Different circumstances happen, and sometimes what happens is out of your control."

 

Then again, the Broncos saved $1.74 million by cutting Reid and the bulk of the $1.4 million salary owed to Stokley, who missed the final three preseason games with a groin injury.

Not that money was anything more than an afterthought when it came time to setting the roster. McDaniels and Xanders sent the message that performance, not financial considerations, wins roster spots.

Just ask Green. The former New England Patriot was one of the Broncos' "big three" free-agent defensive linemen signed in March. Justin Bannan and Jamal Williams were the others.

Green was given a four-year, $11.76 million contract, of which his $2.5 million signing bonus and $755,000 salary for this year were guaranteed. But by the team's mandatory minicamp in June, Ryan McBean had reclaimed his starting job at right defensive end.

The Broncos will be cleared of paying the $755,000 salary if Green signs elsewhere. But it won't be easy for Green to find work after he regressed to the point where he didn't step on the field in the Broncos' final preseason game Thursday at Minnesota.

As for the final roster makeup, McDaniels and Xanders made it clear special teams is a concerted priority as they kept 10 defensive backs and eight linebackers.

There also are health concerns that led the Broncos to keep nine offensive linemen. Right tackle Ryan Harris may be out for a while with a sprained left ankle, and left tackle Ryan Clady is just returning from major knee surgery.

The gimpy nature of tailbacks Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter also may have helped Bruce Hall join Lance Ball as backups.

And in the end, the experienced Brady Quinn was considered a valuable No. 3 quarterback while rookie backup Tim Tebow continues to develop behind starter Kyle Orton.

For some players, kids such as Syd'Quan Thompson and Eric Olsen, Saturday was a great day as they offically made an NFL roster. But it was a sad day for such franchise icons as Stokley, who this time would not receive a last-second Immaculate Deflection.

"I had a great three years here," Stokley said. "Great organization and great people. Now it's time to turn the page."


 

Reducing the roster

The 22 moves the Broncos made Friday and Saturday to get their roster down to 53 players:

Injured reserve: Elvis Dumervil, OLB; LenDale White, RB; Brandon Stokley, WR (release)

Military reserve: Ben Garland, DE

Released: Jarvis Green, DE; Darrell Reid, OLB

Traded: Alphonso Smith, CB

Acquired: Dan Gronkowski, TE

Waived: Marquez Branson, TE; Seth Olsen, G; Riar Geer, TE; Britt Davis, WR; Kyle McCarthy, S; Jeff Stehle, DL; Kevin Alexander, LB; Worrell Williams, LB; Chris Baker, NT; Kory Sperry, TE; Alric Arnett, WR; Paul Duncan, OL; Jammie Kirlew, LB; Nathan Overbay, TE; Johnny Williams, LB


 

Hits and misses

A look at the preseason surprises, and disappointments, after the Broncos set their 53-man roster Saturday:

SURPRISES

1. Stanley Daniels, LG: Didn't take a snap in his first three seasons; now starting.

2. Matt Willis, WR: Led the team with 13 catches in the preseason.

3. Cassius Vaughn, CB: Only undrafted rookie to make the team.

DISAPPOINTMENTS

1. Jarvis Green, DE: NFL's worst free-agent signing.

2. Marquez Branson, TE: The next Tony Scheffler also out the door.

3. Demaryius Thomas, WR: Injury has kept the rookie off the field.

September 5, 2010  06:40 PM ET

Mike Kliss of the Denver Post wrote the above article...

September 10, 2010  07:18 PM ET

I commented on the piece by Woody Paige about his prediction on the Broncos and I got an email from the man... he was really rude in it. He pretty much said all I thought was wrong, and all he said was right... He was the same guy that said "Chris Simms should get his shot."

 
September 11, 2010  09:43 PM ET

Woody Paige has such a huge ego that his head looks too big for his body on TV...

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