Denver Broncos: Why Joel Dreessen should be nervous

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.

Virgil Green may make Joel Dreessen unnecessary in 2014

Virgil Green may make Joel Dreessen unnecessary in 2014

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.



  1. armando cuesta says

    Excellent article, Thomas.
    I agree. I don’t see any way at all the Broncos carry 5 TE’s on to the 53 man roster. And it is pretty certain that the top 4 presently are Thomas, Tamme, Green, and Robinson because of youth, athleticism and price. The numbers just don’t work on behalf of Dreesen in this regard. Moreover if released, the addition of Dreesen’s 3mil cap price added on to the current Bronco’s CAP space of 4.6 would make it a little easier to possibly pursue other players that may become available prior to WEEK 1.
    Speaking of which, what are your thoughts on the Broncos acquiring / pursuing (or lack thereof) newly available CB Brandon Flowers?

    • Thomas Hall says

      I thought about it when Flowers was first released, but there are a few reasons why the should and will pass on him. He really isn’t the best at covering fast receivers. He likely fits better covering the slot, but the Broncos have Chris Harris Jr, who is much better (if his knee is okay). Flowers is not a great locker room person and that turns off Elway and Fox typically. He would likely sit fourth on the depth chart. Roby is going to get a lot of playing time and Webster has looked very good in camp. Finally, Flowers will cost too much. The Broncos are trying to sign two key players in Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas. They need the cap space and won’t use it on a role player. The fact that he still is unsigned and only a couple teams are interested in Flowers shows that he is overrated. I don’t think he would make the Broncos that much better, especially for the cost.

      • armando cuesta says

        You make some very salient points. Moreover, I do believe that if pursued, it must be for a reasonable price that is wholly CAP friendly. It certainly should not be for the price of an ‘elite’ CB level as he is surely neither Revis, Talib, nor Peterson. That may be partially why he’s still on the market…he may be over pricing himself. Presently, very few teams have the CAP space to oblige a mega contract. I would also not sign him for anything long term (and I characterize ‘long term’ as anything 5yrs or over). I would seek a 2yr contract guaranteed, and a added year or perhaps two based on options and incentives. I also agree that Harris Jr. is much better in the slot than Flowers, and what is more, the latter has been very vocal of his dislike playing the slot. I do disagree however, and believe that Flowers is a solid defender on the edge and savyy enough to mitigate his lack of elite speed and height when covering faster and/or taller receivers. Ultimately, I just believe Flowers would provide not only quality depth and versatility to our CB position, but experience as well. Again noting that the one glaring detriment would be his asking price. If it is exorbitant, then so be it….we pass. But those ‘tires’ should definitely be kicked just to make sure.

        YES, the Broncos presently have a solid, capable CB corps. But my concern remains that our CB1, Talib, while elite in ability, is historically prone to injury. Our CB2, Harris, is coming off an ACL injury (as you noted) and is unlikely to be back to full speed through the very early part of the season. And our No. 3 CB is either a rookie, Roby (and talented and promising as Roby is…he’s still a rookie), or a 2nd-year player, Webster, who struggled through his rookie campaign with uneven play, and an injury to his right thumb.

        I can’t help but to see the addition of Flowers, IF (…and only IF) the price is right as an upgrade to our secondary.

        • armando cuesta says

          BTW, I don’t suggest we bring in Flowers AS depth, but rather as a starter opposite of Talib. Harris Jr. can then be placed at the slot position, where he plays at an ALL-PRO, Pro-Bowl caliber level. And Roby would be brought in on ‘Dime’ and ‘Sub’ packages and afford him a more gradual way of acclimating to NFL speed…thereby minimizing some of the seemingly inevitable rookie growing pains.

          • Thomas Hall says

            I agree with you only if the price is right, but at the moment he is pursuing more money than the Broncos are willing to spend. Even though Roby is a rookie and Webster had his rookie ups and downs, I think the Broncos really like both of them. Webster is going to be much better this year. They would not supplant them with Flowers unless, again the price is reasonable. Lets hope the Broncos don’t get hit with injuries like they had last year.

          • armando cuesta says

            Absolutely, “but at the moment he is pursuing more money than the Broncos are willing to spend”…and therein lies the rub. We’ll see how things shake out.

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