The Denver Broncos have a crowded wide receiver depth chart, and Tyrie Cleveland’s status has made the position even more complicated.
Broncos special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes has said publicly multiple times this offseason that he would like to have Cleveland be a “core special teams player” this year, but the receiver is still recovering from a throat injury and he has not yet played in preseason.
Even if Cleveland does return in time for Saturday’s preseason finale, Denver might have to choose between a key special teams player and another receiver who could potentially contribute more on offense.
“Those are the fun battles that we started getting into,” coach Nathaniel Hackett said Wednesday when asked about considering a player’s special teams abilities when building a roster. “[Every coach] wants the guys that they potentially want, so there is definitely a battle. It is a three-phase game.
“That’s something I’ve always believed in. I love special teams. I was a part of special teams and coached special teams. I think that you definitely have to take that into perspective. If there is somebody that is going to offer you a dynamic player and a play maker in that role and on that phase, you definitely have to take that into consideration.”
Assuming that Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler and Montrell Washington are locks, the Broncos have two more spots open (if they carry six receivers). The list of candidates for those two spots includes Brandon Johnson, Kendall Hinton, Seth Williams and Jalen Virgil.
Even if the team decides to carry seven receivers, Denver will have to cut a talented offensive prospect if Cleveland makes the 53-man roster primarily as a special teams contributor. The Broncos might try to trade a receiver to make the decision a little easier, but as the roster stands now, Cleveland’s status is tough to predict.
It won’t be an easy decision.
The deadline to submit a 53-man roster is next Tuesday.