Jake Butt

Broncos Notes: Sanders, Butt, Lock, CBs

After Chris Harris and Emmanuel Sanders suffered season-ending injuries in a four-day span last December, the Broncos lost their final four games and reassembled their coaching staff. The team did not make any major additions at wide receiver this offseason, waiting until the sixth round to address the spot. Sanders has shown steady progress during offseason Achilles rehab, but the 32-year-old wideout conceded Tuesday (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, on Twitter) he will not be full-go to start Denver’s training camp. With the veteran not yet certain to be ready to play by Week 1, a stay on the active/PUP list to start camp seems likely. The Broncos, whom Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com ranked 31st on his list of skill-position groups, are counting on Sanders to reprise his role as a key starter.

With the Broncos two days away from training camp, here is the latest out of Denver:

  • While Sanders may not avoid the active/PUP list, it appears Jake Butt will. The third-year tight end is attempting to recover from the third torn ACL of his playing career, but the Michigan product said (via the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran, on Twitter) he will not land on the PUP list to start camp. However, the Broncos will still ease him back to practice work. The Broncos brought back Jeff Heuerman and drafted Noah Fant, but Butt could still be a nice bonus for a team with an uncertain pass-catcher situation.
  • Denver used third-round picks in 2017 and ’18 on cornerbacks, but neither Brendan Langley nor Isaac Yiadom have a locked-in role going into camp. Langley has been moved to wide receiver, and Yiadom might not even be the favorite for the team’s No. 4 cornerback gig. The Broncos’ top three of Harris, Bryce Callahan and Kareem Jackson (in nickel sets) is set, and O’Halloran notes Alliance of American Football refugee De’Vante Bausby may be the player to beat for the Broncos’ CB4 role. Bausby played for Vic Fangio briefly in 2016 and suited up for six Eagles games last season.
  • Dalton Risner agreed to terms on his second-round rookie deal. Drew Lock has not. But the Broncos are not planning to cave to Lock’s reported aim at securing an overslot deal. They will not pay Lock more than what Risner received, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. Risner was taken 41st overall, and while Lock was projected to be a first-round pick for most of the draft process, the four-year Missouri starter went 42nd.

Broncos TE Jake Butt Eyeing Training Camp Return

Less than a year after undergoing ACL and meniscus surgery, Broncos tight end Jake Butt is already eyeing a return to the field. The 23-year-old told Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post that he’ll be ready to go for training camp next month (Twitter link).

“I feel really, really close,” Butt said (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala on Twitter). “At this point it’s just about getting back into football shape and to where I feel good every day.”

The 2017 fifth-rounder out of Michigan has struggled through injuries during his brief career. He missed his entire rookie season as he recovered from a torn ACL suffered during his senior year. He came into the 2018 campaign fully healthy, and he started each of the Broncos’ first three games, hauling in eight receptions for 85 yards. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL during a non-contact drill at practice, ending his sophomore season.

Butt will have a bit more competition at his position heading into 2019, as the Broncos used a first-round pick on tight end Noah Fant. The team is also rostering Jeff Heuerman and Troy Fumagalli, meaning the coaching staff has the depth to bring Butt along slowly.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos To Promote TE Brian Parker

Following Jake Butt‘s season-ending ACL injury, the Broncos have added another tight end to their roster. Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that the team has promoted Brian Parker to the active roster. To make room on the roster, the Broncos are expected to place Butt on the injured reserve (via Mike Klis of 9News on Twitter).

The 26-year-old Parker entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Albany in 2015. He bounced between the Chargers, Chiefs, and Jets before landing with the Broncos in 2017. He played in nine games with Kansas City as a rookie, hauling in a single catch for six yards. He’ll likely slide behind Jeff Heuerman and Matt LaCosse on the tight ends depth chart.

It was expected that Butt would be placed on the injured reserve after he suffered a torn left ACL during Thursday’s practice. The 23-year-old had already suffered a pair of ACL’s during his playing career, although his recent injury was in a different knee.

“I made a cut and I knew it right away,” Butt told Klis (via Twitter). “But I feel lucky. I have so many wonderful people around me for support. I’ve had so many people reach out to me and tell me they’re praying for me and thinking of me. I’m so blessed.”

Butt also told Klis that he’s prepared for the grind of rehab, noting that being unable to play in games is the toughest aspect of the recovery process.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos’ Jake Butt Done For Year

Jake Butt suffered a torn left ACL during Thursday’s walkthrough practice, according to Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). Butt is done for the year and will be placed on injured reserve. 

It’s a crushing blow for Butt, who tore his right ACL twice while at Michigan. Through three games, Butt was making an impact, and had eight catches for 85 yards. He’ll now have to wait until September of next year to build on his progress.

Butt was the 145th overall pick in the 2017 draft, but offers far more upside than your average fifth-rounder. Before his second torn ACL suffered in the Orange Bowl, Butt had a chance to parlay back-to-back strong seasons into becoming a first- or second-round pick. Butt combined for 97 receptions and seven touchdowns during his final two years with the Wolverines and earned first-team All-America honors in each season.

Without Butt, top tight end Jeff Heuerman and backup Matt LaCosse will be relied on a bit more heavily. Fifth-round pick Troy Fumagalli is on IR with an abdominal injury, so the Broncos may look to sign another tight end this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Bucs, Butt, Browns, Dobbs

The NFL is still investigating Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston for allegedly groping an Uber driver in 2016. It’s been seven months since an unnamed woman’s allegation surfaced, but NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said (via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times) the matter “remains under review.” Winston has long denied any wrongdoing, but even if no charges were brought, the fourth-year quarterback could face NFL discipline. The Bucs open the season with games against the Saints, Eagles and Steelers. They re-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started three games last season, in preparation for this, Stroud notes, adding that they believe the 35-year-old veteran is the best option to navigate that stretch if Winston is suspended. Of course, if the Bucs go into training camp without knowing if Winston will be suspended, it could make allocating reps difficult.

As minicamp week concludes, here’s the latest news:

  • The Browns plan to slot Mychal Kendricks at weakside linebacker going into camp, per Zac Jackson of The Athletic (subscription required). Christian Kirksey played every snap at that spot last season and is signed long-term. Jackson doesn’t see him losing his job. The Browns believe Kendricks can play all three linebacker positions, but how Cleveland distributes playing time will be interesting since Jamie Collins — the league’s highest-paid off-ball linebacker — and 2017 Pro Bowler Joe Schobert are the other incumbents. It’s arguable Kendricks, long upset with his role in Philadelphia, had an easier path to playing time with the defending Super Bowl champions than he does with a team coming off an 0-16 season.
  • Excluding the 2 1/2 seasons Peyton Manning was healthy for the Broncos, the franchise has not been able to generate much from its tight end spot this decade. The Broncos, though, might have their best chance in a while to do so with one-time highly regarded prospect Jake Butt healthy. After essentially redshirting in 2017, which does not count as an accrued-service year for Butt since he spent it on Denver’s PUP list, the Michigan product could be in position to start. “He looks healthy, finally,” Vance Joseph said, via Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com. “ … Right now, he’s totally healthy.” The Broncos have struggled for three years to generate much in the passing game outside of their two starting wideouts, but with Butt in the mix, Case Keenum figures to have more options than his immediate predecessors. Denver used a 2017 third-round pick on Carlos Henderson only to see him miss all of his rookie year, and the Broncos now have second- and fourth-round picks Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton potentially ready to fill the auxiliary pass-catcher void.
  • File this away to the what-if department: had the Buccaneers not selected O.J. Howard at No. 19 overall last year, they were “poised” to take Dalvin Cook, Stroud notes. This would have been a wildly different path for Cook, who sat on the board until the Vikings selected him at No. 41 overall. Tampa Bay instead waited a year to make a big draft investment at this position, taking Ronald Jones at No. 38 this year.
  • The SteelersMason Rudolph selection will likely leave Joshua Dobbs as the odd man out in Pittsburgh, barring injury. Pittsburgh is expected to go into the season with Ben Roethlisberger, Rudolph and Landry Jones as its three quarterbacks, Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes, leaving 2017 draftee Dobbs as either trade bait or waiver wire fodder. Jones is due $2.2MM this season but would profile as the veteran backup to complement the developing Rudolph.

Extra Points: AAF, Dolphins, Ray, Broncos

The Alliance of American Football is set to debut this winter. While the league is expected to provide an alternative for NFL fans, founder Charlie Ebersol said they aren’t intending to put their counterpart out of business.

“It’s a positive relationship,” Ebersol told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. “One of the reasons that we made the contract the way we do for the players where they have an out to go to back to the NFL is because we recognize the fact just like the MLS recognizes the fact that the Premier League is ultimately gonna pay players more and put them on a bigger stage than the MLS will. They support that. We support the same concepts. I think that it’s a foolish to try to pick a fight with a $150 billion business when you’re starting up and when you’re also not competing. I mean none of my content touches any of their content. Ultimately, it’s a complementary, positive relationship.”

Ebersol touched on several additional points during the interview, including the ability for players to switch to the NFL should they receive an offer.

Let’s take a look at some other notes from around the NFL…

  • Dolphins second-round tight end Mike Gesicki has yet to impress during the media portions of practices. While the Penn State product clearly has some work to do, it sounds like Miami’s coaching staff is optimistic about the prospect’s future in the NFL. “Mike is a little bit unique,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains told Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald. “[Durham Smythe] is a ‘Y’ and Mike G is more of a … We’ve got to find out exactly what he can and can’t do and what he can and can’t handle early. As the season goes and the offseason goes and training camp, his package will expand and his routes will expand as we found out what he can and can’t do.” To start the season, Gesicki is expected to backup A.J. Derby.
  • Beasley writes that filling Ndamukong Suh‘s role is easier said than done. However, several Dolphins players could be ready for the challenge, and the writer specifically points to 2017 third-rounder Vincent Taylor. “It’s hard losing a guy like Suh just knowing what he’s capable of doing; but at the end of the day, it’s a business decision,” Taylor said. “I know all of the things when I was coming in, what he taught me, so I learned some of the things that he taught me.”
  • The Broncos declined to pick up Shane Ray‘s fifth-year option. As a result, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post believes the injured linebacker should take as long as he needs to recover from wrist surgery. The writer explains that returning early and re-aggravating the injury could hurt Ray’s market value. However, if the linebacker is productive and healthy in a lesser playing sample, he still might be able to secure a lucrative contract. The 2015 first-rounder had a disappointing season in 2017, compiling only 16 tackles and one sack in eight games (seven starts).
  • O’Halloran also observes that Broncos tight end Jake Butt has been an offensive standout during practices. “It’s our responsibility as tight ends and slot (receivers) to win one-on-one match-ups on the inside,” he said. “We’ve got to make plays when our number is called to take a little bit of pressure off those guys (Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders) on the outside.” Butt could end up with the starting gig in Denver, but he’ll have to compete with a grouping that includes Jeff Heuerman and Troy Fumagalli.

Broncos Place Jake Butt, Chad Kelly On IR

A pair of Broncos rookies are headed to the injured reserve. The team announced today that they’ve placed tight end Jake Butt and quarterback Chad Kelly on the IR. The two players were previously on the NFI list, and after evaluating their progress, the coaching staff decided that the duo would be shut down for the season.

Jake Butt“They’re both going to go down,” said head coach Vance Joseph. “Chad Kelly, obviously, he came back and practiced last week, and obviously numbers-wise, it doesn’t make sense for our football team. We were hoping that Jake could come back and help us at this point, but he’s not ready yet. So we’re going to put both of those guys down.”

Butt, who was selected in the fifth round of this past year’s draft, has spent the majority of the campaign recovering from his second ACL surgery. The tight end had been practicing for the past few weeks, but he continued to feel soreness in the knee. After having earned a pair of first-team All-American nods, it was expected that Butt could eventually work his way into a major role. Instead, the Broncos will have to continue to rely on A.J. Derby, Virgil Green, and Jeff Heuerman at tight end.

“There’s definitely frustration,” Butt told Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post last week. “For me, I’ve been a quick healer my whole life and everything I’ve come back (from), I’ve been able to come back with no problems. But it’s also teaching me some things. Patience is a big thing.”

There had been less optimism that Kelly would be activated from the NFI. The seventh-round pick was recovering from both wrist and and knee surgeries, and while the trio of Brock OsweilerTrevor Siemian, and Paxton Lynch have been uninspiring, there wasn’t room on the roster for a rookie quarterback. Kelly was limited to nine games during his senior season at Ole Miss, but he still managed to complete 62.5-percent of his passes for 2,758 yards, 19 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Down To 52-Man Roster

The Broncos are down to a 52-man roster. Why 52, you ask? That’s because their signing of quarterback Brock Osweiler is not yet official. Once he’s inked, they’ll be at the 53-man max.

The Broncos also have Shane Ray on the active roster as of this writing. If they place him on IR, they’ll have another spot to work with.

Here’s the full look at their roster:

Released:

Waived:

Waived/Injured:

  • LB Kevin Snyder

Placed On IR:

Reserve/NFI:

Broncos Rumors: Charles, Stephenson, Butt

Jamaal Charles reportedly has a “50/50” shot to make the Broncos‘ final roster, and his only chance to earn a spot on the club will come in Saturday’s preseason game against the Packers, tweets James Palmer of NFL.com. Charles, 30, signed a one-year deal with Denver that contained only $100K in guarantees, and he hasn’t yet participated in a preseason game. The veteran back, who’s been injured for much of the past two years, won’t play in the Broncos’ final preseason contest, so he’ll need to show he’s worth a roster spot this weekend. Denver’s other running backs includes C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker, Juwan Thompson, Stevan Ridley, and De’Angelo Henderson.

Here’s more from the Mile High City:

  • Denver will soon face a decision on the status of offensive tackle Donald Stephenson, as Adam Caplan of ESPN.com details (Twitter links). Stephenson isn’t expected to start, as the Broncos plan to play rookie Garret Bolles at left tackle and free agent addition Menelik Watson at right tackle. That combination would leave Stephenson as an extremely overpaid backup, as Stephenson will earn a fully guaranteed $2MM base salary and another $2MM bonus if he makes Denver’s Week 1 roster (all part of a contract restructuring agreed to earlier this year). While Stephenson’s salary is clearly a sunk cost, the Broncos could save the other $2MM by releasing him before the regular season gets underway.
  • Rookie tight end Jake Butt will “probably” begin the 2017 season on the physically unable to perform list, as Broncos head coach Vance Joseph explained to reporters, including Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Butt, recovering from a torn ACL suffered in his final collegiate contest, would be forced to miss the first six games of the year if placed on PUP. Denver selected Butt in the fifth round, using the 145th overall pick to secure the Michigan product.
  • The Broncos have had a relatively busy week, as they’ve announced Trevor Siemian as their starting quarterback over Paxton Lynch, and learned fourth-year edge rusher Shaquil Barrett could be available for Week 1.

Extra Points: Bell, Steelers, Hawks, Broncos

Using three-year cash value as a baseline metric, Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com examines the most above-market deals in the NFL at the moment. While some contracts listed — such as those signed by Kevin Zeitler, Kawann Short, or Marcell Dareus — aren’t surprising, the No. 1 slot is, as it went to 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk, whose pact is more than 200% above the baseline for his position. The entire article is well worth a read, both for its interesting metric and Barnwell’s analysis.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap offer competing views on the Steelers‘ reported offer to running back Le’Veon Bell, some of the details of which were leaked earlier today. Pittsburgh apparently offered Bell a $12MM annual salary over a five-year term, with $30MM coming in the first two years of pact, but as Florio notes, it’s difficult to completely evaluate the proposal without knowing its exact specifics. But Fitzgerald writes the Steelers typically offer large signing bonuses and honor the entirety of contracts, meaning Bell may have passed up quite a commitment on Pittsburgh’s part.
  • Seahawks backup quarterback Trevone Boykin‘s court date has been rescheduled, meaning he now won’t appear until August 22, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes. That date will come amid Seattle’s preseason schedule, but it shouldn’t affect Boykin as he is required to attend the hearing. This court date is related to Boykin’s March arrest, while the fallout from his April arrest is still up in the air. As Condotta noted in May, the Seahawks aren’t expecting Boykin to be disciplined by the league.
  • As he continues to recover from a torn ACL, Broncos rookie tight end Jake Butt will “almost certainly” begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list, according to Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com. If he remains on PUP for the duration of camp, Butt could be transferred to the reserve/PUP list, which would force him to miss the first six weeks of the 2017 campaign. When does regain full health, Butt should be able to contribute, but he’s currently near the bottom of Denver’s tight end depth chart, which also includes Virgil Green, Jeff Heuerman, A.J. Derby, and Henry Krieger-Coble.