The Denver Broncos will have to make some difficult roster decisions leading up to the season. Currently, the Broncos have collected a good amount of depth at every position, and inevitably, some good players will be cut.
On June 21, ESPN’s Jeff Legwold wrote an article predicting the Broncos’ 53-man roster, and it included one surprising cut. Legwold predicted that the Broncos would carry nine linebackers (Bradley Chubb, Randy Gregory, Josey Jewell, Jonas Griffith, Baron Browning, Nik Bonitto, Alex Singleton, Jonathon Cooper, Aaron Patrick) on their roster, and outside linebacker Malik Reed would be cut.
“Special teams will likely tip the scales for the final few spots here, as well as Gregory’s health at the start of the regular season after offseason shoulder surgery,” Legwold wrote. “If Gregory is full go in camp, the Broncos could lean to Patrick’s special teams work or some additional depth at inside linebacker over Malik Reed’s experience. If Gregory is still limited by the time September rolls around, then Reed could be a need player.”
Legwold’s reasoning is solid. Patrick emerged as a valuable special teams contributor last season, as he played a total of 208 special teams snaps. General manager George Paton even described Patrick as a “freak” on special teams.
“If you watch (Patrick) on special teams, this kid, he’s a freak,” Paton said via Kyle Newman of The Denver Post. “He can run and he’s learning how to play (outside linebacker in our scheme).”
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Reed Has Been the Broncos’ Most Productive Edge Rusher Since 2020
Still, cutting Reed would be shocking. After signing with the Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 2019, he immediately emerged as a defensive playmaker. As a rookie, Reed made eight starts, and he recorded 27 combined tackles, two sacks, and nine pressures.
In 2020, Reed led the Broncos in sacks (8.0), and he generated an impressive 33 pressures. In 2021, Reed had another productive season. He recorded five sacks, and he led the Broncos in pressures (22).
Over the last two years, Reed has been the Broncos’ most productive pass rusher, and he is still only 25 years old.
Broncos: Trading Reed Is a Possibility
The Broncos have a wealth of edge rushers. Chubb is fully healthy for the first time since his rookie year. Gregory and Bonitto are new additions and are set to play big roles. Browning is switching to the outside after playing inside linebacker last season. Cooper showed promise as a rookie last season; he had a PFF grade of 69.1.
So, there is an argument that the Broncos do not need Reed. Regardless, cutting Reed outright would be a huge mistake.
At the very least, they should be able to trade him. Edge rusher is a premium position, and Reed has already produced at a high level. His base salary of $2.43 million only makes him a more attractive trade target.
The Los Angeles Rams make sense as a trade destination. They are in win-now mode, and they have a need at edge rusher.
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