Every year in the NFL there is more than one unexpected cut of a veteran player. However, if the Denver Broncos cut Joel Dreessen this year, it won’t be much of a surprise. There are three reasons why: salary, production and younger players.
The Denver Broncos have been lucky to have four solid tight ends over the last two years. They have been happy with that group and have kept four on the roster since drafting Julius Thomas and Virgil Green. Dreessen started at the top of the depth chart when coming on board as a free agent in 2012. His salary reflects that type of investment, but his contributions do not.
Last season he was active for 13 games, battled the injury bug, made only seven receptions, and played very sparingly. He sits solidly in fourth place on the depth chart. His salary number doesn’t fit a fourth string tight end. Dreessen is talented and can be a starter in the NFL, but not for the Broncos.
Julius Thomas caught fire and pushed all tight ends down the depth chart last season. If he stays healthy, he has a chance to be the best tight end in the league. Furthermore, Virgil Green is coming on strong this off-season. He is catching the ball better and Peyton Manning has a growing trust in him. He is a good blocker and basically possesses all the traits that made Dreessen a free agent target for the Broncos. Added to that, he is younger and more athletic. If his regular season production matches his offseason to date, Green will be the number two tight end and a good one.
Gerell Robinson, a converted wide receiver, was making his presence known in OTAs. He may not be ready to fill the fourth roster spot at the moment, but he is getting close. The Broncos may not want to chance waiving him in an attempt to place him on the practice squad. If they choose to keep him on the roster, that will push Dreessen off the team.
Finally, the Broncos may want to keep a rookie undrafted wide receiver (Isaiah Burse) to be the return specialist and reserve slot receiver. That would likely force them keep six wide receivers. With a 53-man roster making it tough to keep everyone they want, a fourth string tight end may be unnecessary.
Unless there is an injury in training camp, expect Dreessen to be cut early so that he may catch on with a new team sooner rather than later.