Going into training camp this year, fans of the Denver Broncos find themselves looking at a completely different team than they beheld just one year ago.
Many players who were household names to the Broncos faithful are either with another team or are still looking for work this offseason.
With all the change that has occurred in the Broncos' roster, I find it encouraging that Denver has cut the fat that was holding the team back.
Taking a look at the long list of players no longer in Denver, there seems to be a trend.
Many of them are still unemployed.
The following is a list of 2008 starters that nobody wants. These players are so "good," nobody wants them. After starting last year for Mike Shanahan’s poor excuse for a defense (save Selvin), these guys aren’t even good enough to attend OTA’s with another NFL team.
Defensive Tackle Dewayne Robertson (Cut)
Robertson was supposed to be the answer to Denver’s problem of stuffing the run.
Unfortunately, his nagging knee injury never allowed him to be anything more than a rotational player who was far from the force in the middle that Denver fans were expecting.
His 22 total tackles and 1.5 sacks were just not enough for McDaniels and Co. to keep him around.
And surprise, surprise. Robertson is such a good player, nobody wants him.
Linebacker Boss Bailey (Cut)
Champ Bailey’s brother, Boss, has had an unfortunate career.
When he is on the field, he has played very well. But he has been struck with the injury bug and has not been able to shake it for a number of years now.
It is hard to know how good a player is if he is never actually able to play.
Boss’ nagging injuries have kept him off the field for too long, and his reputation precedes him. Injuries have kept Boss from being able to find employment on another NFL team, despite being a season opening starter in 2008.
Defensive End John Engelberger (Cut)
I never understood why this guy ever became a starter in the NFL. He played for the 49ers when they were terrible, so maybe that was it.
Engleberger never put up great numbers and has always been too small (260 pounds) to be an effective defensive end.
He may have had desire and heart, as he was known to play through injury, but his skills have always been second string at best. It just goes to show how terrible Denver’s defense was last year.
Running Back Selvin Young (Cut)
Mike Shanahan’s offensive system with Bobby Turner’s and Rich Dennison’s coaching allowed him to plug anyone into Denver’s backfield and have success. This was proved time and again.
Selvin Young went undrafted in 2007, but he proved to be a capable back in the zone blocking one-cut system Denver runs.
Young probably could not have started on any other NFL team, yet he started for the Denver Broncos in 2008. But he was one of many who got injured early in the season and never recovered.
His "skills" were not good enough to keep him around Denver in McDaniels' Offense, and he too is looking for a job.
Linebacker Nate Webster (Free Agent)
Despite being a career backup, Nate Webster got a chance to start in Denver after Al Wilson went down with a career-ending back injury.
Webster played fairly well in 2008, cleaning up many tackles missed by the anemic defense, but he also got beat quite often and looked out of control on the field.
He too struggled with injuries and in the end was not worth keeping around.
Linebacker Jamie Winborn (Cut)
Stepping into place after Boss went out with an injury, Winborn started most of the season as the strong side outside linebacker.
In fact, Winborn led the team in tackles for the 2008 season.
Winborn turned 30 and doesn’t fit the 3-4 system Mike Nolan is implementing in Denver, so he was cut, and he has yet to get an offer to play for another NFL team.
The following are more 2008 players who have yet to sign with another team after being released by the Denver Broncos.
Fullback Andrew Pinnock (cut)
Running back P.J. Pope (cut)
Tight end Nate Jackson (cut)
Linebacker Louis Green (cut)
Safety Herana-Daze Jones (cut)
Cornerback Rashad Moulton (cut)
Tight end Chad Mustard (cut)
Running back Alex Haynes (cut)
Running back Cory Boyd (cut)
Wide receiver Cliff Russell (cut)
Defensive tackle John Shaw (cut)
All of these players were so "good" no other NFL team will have them.
Maybe they will get picked up as players get injured during camp or the regular season, but it is mind-boggling that so many guys who played for Denver last year are such dead-weights and have failed to attract interest from any of the other 31 NFL teams.
There were only nine players out of the 27 who were released from last year's roster that have been able to join a team for training camp with a shot at maybe making the team.
Running back Anthony Aldridge (waivers, Washington)
Wide receiver Jayson Foster (cut, Pittsburgh)
Linebacker Niko Koutouvides (cut, Tampa Bay)
Tight end Mike Leach (cut, Arizona)
Safety Marquand Manuel (cut, Detriot)
Safety Marlon McCree (FA, Jacksonville)
Cornerback Karl Paymeh (FA, Minnesota)
Quarterback Patrick Ramsey (FA, Tennessee)
Cornerback Dré Bly (cut, San Francisco)
All of these guys will have a difficult time making their new teams as anything more than a special teams player or a backup. That is just how "good" these players are.
Note the picture I chose for this article. It took Robertson, Engleberger, and Webster to try to tackle Ronnie Brown. You can blame Slowik and his terrible defensive scheme, but it also goes to show the talent these players possess.
McDaniels and Co. wasted no time cleaning house in Denver, and I am glad that they did. It wasn’t as if there was untapped talent among the players that Denver released, but rather, dead weight that needed to be purged.
Everything has changed in Denver this offseason, and the Broncos have shed the players who were substandard, injury-ridden, and didn’t fit the system.
To these players, I say "thank you for your service and good luck," but I am glad to see them replaced with promising talents and players who can step in and win.
Denver is a team with new players and a new identity going into the 2009 season. It is streamlined and ready to surprise a lot of people.