At first glance, the Denver Broncos have a roster capable of being a playoff team. The running game is strong. The wide receivers are talented. Their defense has star playmakers like Von Miller, Kyle Fuller and Bradley Chubb. The Broncos brought in even more talent via the draft in Javonte Williams and Patrick Surtain II.
But there are still question marks about the starting quarterback, the O-line and the relative lack of experience on the depth chart.
Denver's roster isn't perfect and they could benefit from shedding some players before the regular season. Here are five players they could release or trade before Week 1 of the 2021 season.
Five players the Denver Broncos are unlikely to bring back for 2021
#1 - Melvin Gordon, RB
Melvin Gordon is the starting running back, but the Denver Broncos could benefit from moving on from him. He had nearly 1,000 rushing yards in 2020 but averaged just 4.6 yards per carry. It's not bad, but it's not great either.
Gordon is owed $8 million in salary this year, and the Broncos will save almost $7 million by trading him. They drafted Javone Williams in the second round, have Royce Freeman (4.9 yards per carry) and acquired the promising Mike Boone.
#2 - Austin Fort, TE
Austin Fort was signed an undrafted free agent in 2019 and showed promise before an ACL tear halted his progress. He has complications with his injured knee and hasn't played much football since the injury. With the Broncos already boasting Noah Fant, Albert Okwuegbunam, Shaun Beyers and fullback Andrew Beck, Fort is likely on his way out of Denver.
#3 - Jonathan Cooper, DL
The Denver Broncos drafted Jonathan Cooper just a few months ago in the seventh round, but not all draft picks make the roster. Cooper finds himself lost in the shuffle of the depth chart and current backup Malik Reed had eight sacks last year. Cooper will likely be cut before the season begins.
#4 - Jamar Johnson, Safety
The Denver Broncos drafted two safeties in the 2021 NFL Draft: Jamar Johnson and Caden Sterns. The team will likely have to cut one before the season commences. Johnson is an excellent nickel-safety hybrid, but the Broncos have several players who can play those roles. If someone has to go, it will be Johnson.
#5 - Brett Rypien, QB
Brett Rypien won his lone start last season and managed to throw for 295 yards and two touchdowns with four interceptions. He's not ready to be a starter. Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater are battling for the starting quarterback role and the loser will stay around as the backup. The Denver Broncos will likely run with only two QBs on their roster, meaning Rypien will be cut before the season begins.