Training camp is just around the corner and it’s time for players to prove how they improved in the offseason. For a handful of players the pressure to succeed this year is on another level. With limited reps, some players who underperformed have to make sure they can still fit with the team. Here are some of the players who have the most to prove in training camp.
Garrett Bolles has been an outright bust since he was drafted in the first round in 2017. This offseason Bolles didn’t have his fifth-year option picked up by the Broncos. This means he’s barely holding on to his roster spot and the team doesn’t want to keep him for another year. Last year Bolles let up four sacks which isn’t great, but penalties are his biggest issue. Bolles finished second in penalties last season among tackles with 17. Those penalties come often too considerings he was 21st in snaps played in the 2019-2020 season. It doesn’t help that Bolles is a sizable cap space casualty in a year where the Broncos are over the limit.
This offseason the Broncos front office pulled a very unexpected move to sign free agent running back Melvin Gordon. This now gives third-year running back Philip Lindsay some serious competition. These past few years no one has given Lindsay a slight challenge since he’s taken over but that’s about to change. Gordon still has pressure on him as the newcomer, no doubt, but there are more eyes on Lindsay to defend his turf. Lindsay is in the last year of his deal and is expected to have a big pay raise next year but he has to prove he’s worth it.
The Broncos’ front office decided to throw a lot behind Drew Lock this offseason. They drafted three new wide receivers and added two new tight ends on top of a new system. But is all this trust in Lock a little premature? Sure he played amazing in the five games he played in, but five games is a very small sample size. Now after all this weight is put on him he has to live up to the hype. But with an extremely tough quarterback schedule, it won’t be easy.
Todd Davis is a solid player and he has been for a while but most of the pressure he’ll receive this year is from fans. Broncos fans flat out don’t like Todd Davis mostly due to his attitude. This doesn’t take away from his talent and play on the field but it certainly puts him under a microscope. If fans don’t like the way he’s playing they’ll voice it to the front office no doubt.
This is where the second part of the pressure on Davis comes in. This year the Broncos need to free up cap space and Davis takes up a good chunk of that. He sits at a $6 million cap hit this season. It’s also the last year on his deal meaning he’s going to have to play really well for another deal. He also has to worry about competition from Alexander Johnson who came out of nowhere last season. So with fans against him in a contract year with a crowded linebacker group, all eyes are on Davis.
Mike Purcell is an interesting case where most of his pressure will be based on his salary. Over the offseason, Purcell signed a one-year, $3,259,000 deal which is steep considering his performance. Purcell, who hadn’t played a snap of NFL football from 2016 to 2019, only totaled 48 tackles last year and finished the season without a sack. It seems like he’s putting pressure on himself this year to live up to that big deal. Purcell said he’s “not done” proving what he’s worth on the football field in an interview with The Denver Post. Hopefully, for him and the team, Purcell can live up to what the team sees in him.