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The Look Ahead To 2025 Roster Decisions

Now that all major roster decisions in 2024 have been solidified, it’s at this time of the year where I like to take a look beyond to see what types of decisions the Broncos have awaiting them after this season. As always, nothing can be set in stone until the 2024 NFL season is fully in the history books, but every team always has to be sketching out at least light plans as to what their roster could shape up to be in the longer term.

The depth at edge rusher

The Broncos have many edge rushers that currently trend toward average, but none that are established as above average, let alone elite. 2024 is a great opportunity for most of them to take that next step forward.

This is particularly true for Baron Browning and Jonathon Cooper, who are both in the final season of their rookie contracts. A breakout season by either could solidify a big contract in 2025. Should both break out, the Broncos could be posed with the same good problem they had with Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson, where they sign one to a reasonable extension, while letting the other sign elsewhere in free agency and add to their compensatory pick chart. A breakout season by just one of them clarifies the situation of who to retain.

But should neither break out, the Broncos have also already indemnified themselves against that possibility by keeping the edge rusher position young and deep. Perhaps Nik Bonitto could be the breakout player instead in his third season. Perhaps Jonah Elliss could impress as a rookie. If both of them do so, it could make the Broncos comfortable in letting both Browning and Cooper leave.

Suffice to say, there are many permutations the edge rusher depth chart could look like among the incumbent Broncos in 2024 for 2025, and it could had been even more so had Drew Sanders not torn his Achilles tendon in April.

The depth at running back

I implored the Broncos to acquire a rookie running back, given that both Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine are in the final seasons of their contracts. The Broncos exceeded that demand by both drafting Audric Estimé in the 5th round, and by signing Blake Watson as a priority undrafted free agent.

Add Jaleel McLaughlin to this group, and the Broncos are now stacked at running back. The first aspect to watch is whether all five of these players make the active roster. That seems unlikely to me unless enough of them can prove their worth on special teams. If talent is roughly equal, then by salary, Perine would be the most vulnerable to being cut, as he is due $3 million in non-guaranteed salary this season.

The next aspect would be to watch their snap counts and production as the regular season progresses. If McLaughlin, Estimé, and Watson provide enough such production, then it becomes quite evident that they can let both Williams and Perine leave in free agency

The future at left tackle

Garett Bolles is entering the final season of his contract, and will be 33 years old for the 2025 regular season. I have advocated, and continue to advocate, for a two year extension for him, and such an extension hypothetically could be announced at any time throughout 2024.

But if the Broncos feel that they have more doubt about Bolles’s future production beyond this season, then they (and observers) will need to keep an eye on the younger tackle talent on the team. Alex Palczewski made the team as a rookie undrafted free agent in 2023, Quinn Bailey is another returner from last season, and the Broncos also added Matt Peart as a free agent from the Giants, who drafted him in the 3rd round.

If none of them emerge as clearly viable successors to Bolles, however, then the Broncos need to already be looking at contingency plans at a highly valuable position if they don’t want to extend him. Top tier pending free agents like Tristan Wirfs and Jedrick Wills will highly likely get franchised tagged at the very least. Older players like Ronnie Stanley or Taylor Decker would come with similar age concerns as Bolles. If no sufficient move is made, the Broncos may risk the danger of locking themselves into drafting a tackle, something the team has not done since Bolles himself was drafted in 2017.

Potential candidates to be cut

Players entering the final seasons of their contracts are not the only players to keep an eye on for potential roster changes. Players deemed by the team to no longer be worth what they are due could end up getting cut.

Broncos fans and observers were surprised when the team did just that to Justin Simmons. However, even if one could not foresee just how brutal of a hit the leaguewide safety market would take, in work on contract fate that I had done for Over The Cap, Simmons did rank as the 29th most likely player with a sizeable contract to be cut, with the odds coming in at 74.4%.

Moving ahead to 2025, here’s a early look at what contract fate looks like for some other Broncos, with the odds of either being cut or being demanded to take a pay cut look like:

Courtland Sutton (77.3%, due $14 million in 2025)

Sutton, of course, is seeking a new contract right now, but wide receivers in his situation, entering the final season of a four year contract, tended to have had the opposite fate happen to them. Adding onto this will be Sutton turning 30 next season. I would not envision Sutton being cut after 2024, but the possibility must be considered, especially given that the Broncos just drafted Troy Franklin and DeVaughn Vele, as well as Marvin Mims the draft before. If enough of that young talent breaks out, the Broncos could be asking themselves whether they retain good depth at receiver without Sutton

Alex Singleton (76.5%, due $6 million in 2025)

Unlike with Sutton, there is not demonstrable depth at linebacker right now, with Cody Barton and Jonas Griffith also both slated to be free agents in 2025. But with Singleton turning 32 in 2025, the possibility of declined play has to be broached. Linebacker, however, is a position that can typically be filled in free agency without too much fuss. In particular, one name that stands out if he’s not extended is Pete Werner, who played for Sean Payton in his rookie season.

Josh Reynolds (75.4%, due $4.5 million in 2025)

This is basically a lesser version of what has already been explained with Sutton. In a situation where Sutton remains an upper tier WR and enough young players take a step forward, it could instead be Reynolds who’s on the outside as a one year rental.

Ben Powers (64.3%, due $12 million in 2025)

I was a little surprised to see the odds of negative contract fate for Powers not be higher than this. With Quinn Meinerz entering the final season of his contract, and due for a big extension at any given moment, the Broncos may ask themselves if they want to pay high value at both guard positions. Working in Powers’s favor is that there is no proven depth behind him on the team right now, depth that gets much thinner if Meinerz is not retained. The availability of guards in free agency, while not super tight, has also been getting tighter in recent seasons.

Zach Allen (62.3%, due $13.25 million in 2025)

John Franklin-Myers (58.5%, due $8 million in 2025)

Either of these interior defensive linemen being cut seems like a big stretch to me, especially when DJ Jones is also entering the final season of his contract in 2024. But the two of them round out the Broncos in which past NFL contract trends would suggest that it would be more likely than not to meet a negative contract fate.