The Denver Broncos released backup quarterback Caleb Hanie today from their 53-man roster. While some say that this is purely a financial decision and that Hanie will be re-signed this coming Tuesday, it seems a strange thing to do a day before their opening game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Ever since the Broncos signed Hanie as a free agent, fans haven't been terribly happy with him backing up Manning. While Hanie has performed adequately at times in preseason, many remember the quarterback from his mostly ineffective playing days with the Chicago Bears last year. Some might actually be happy that he was cut. However, on the other hand, it's a strange move to conduct so close to the opening game. If something happens to Manning, the only other quarterback on the roster is rookie Brock Osweiler.
The Denver Post is reporting that it's likely that the move was done to save money. By releasing Hanie today, the Broncos prevented Hanie from receiving a $250,000 roster bonus he would have received simply by standing on the sidelines tomorrow in uniform. They also prevented his $1 million base salary from being fully guaranteed by releasing him before the first game. This is apparently a common move that many teams will conduct today in order to save some money from this year's salary cap. Most of these veterans released today will be re-signed by their teams on Tuesday with new contracts.
So when John Elway said that there was really no "Plan B" the day that Peyton Manning was introduced to the Denver media here in Colorado back in March, he really meant it when it came to this first week of the season. We all know that this offense, with the way it's been built up around Manning, won't function nearly as well if Manning gets hurt and can't play. It's 100% Manning, or the Broncos are back to where they were last season when the offense had to radically change to accommodate the passing limitations of Tim Tebow (at least it would be tomorrow for sure). I still want a competent veteran backup for Manning no matter what. Osweiler's development should not be rushed. Hanie wasn't my first, second, or third choice for that position, but he's been with the Broncos all through preseason and training camp and he's the best behind Manning that they have right now. Here's hoping the Broncos won't regret this decision for the Steelers game and get him signed back to the team on Tuesday.
Julie is a featured NFL contributor and writes about the Denver Broncos for the Yahoo Contributor Network. A lifelong football fan, she has been following the Broncos since moving to Colorado in 2001.