One of the most hotly discussed topics among Broncos fans this week centers on how general manager John Elway played his backup quarterback situation.
Kyle Sloter, an undrafted rookie from a local college who took the Denver Broncos’ preseason by storm, is off to the Minnesota Vikings as a well-paid practice squad member.
In his place, the Broncos brought back Brock Osweiler, who in the past 18 months became arguably the most besieged, if also among the most well-compensated, quarterbacks in the NFL.
The Broncos took two hits to their practice squad Sunday when Sloter weighed offers from the Broncos and Washington before he decided to join the Minnesota Vikings’ practice squad, and second-year receiver/returner Kalif Raymond was claimed off waivers by the New York Jets.
Michael Schofield, who started the final 16 games for the Broncos at right tackle in 2015 and all 16 games at right guard in 2016, was claimed off waivers Sunday by the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Broncos were also adding defensive tackle Kyle Peko back to their 53-man roster, one day after he was waived, placing outside linebacker Shane Ray on an injured reserve list that would allow him to return for their sixth game on October 30 at Kansas City. It’s the second consecutive year Peko was among the final cuts, yet wound up on the Broncos’ week 1, 53-man roster.
Denver also put in a claim on Cincinnati Bengals center J.J. Dielman, but he was awarded instead to the Los Angeles Rams.
The Broncos also filled nine of their 10 practice squad spots Sunday. They are center Dillon Day, cornerback Marcus Rios, tight end Austin Traylor, receiver Hunter Sharp, safety Dymonte Thomas, defensive tackle Tyrique Jarrett, offensive tackle Elijah Wilkinson, linebackers Jerrol Garcia-Williams and Deiontrez Mount. The Broncos might use that 10th spot on a quarterback as with Chad Kelly and Paxton Lynch hurt, they could use someone to run the scout team. Safety Orion Stewart received the largest signing bonus among Broncos' undrafted rookies at $12,500 so it's mildly surprising he's not on the practice squad yet. Jamal Carter, who made the 53-man roster as a strong safety, received $20,000 guaranteed.
Exactly one year ago today, Sloter was a senior backup to Northern Colorado quarterback Jacob Knipp. In a season-opening route against Rocky Mountain College, Sloter came off the bench to go 0 of 3 with an interception. A backup receiver his first three years at Southern Miss and Northern Colorado, Sloter’s career college passing stats had moved to 0 of 4.
Jump ahead 365 days ahead and Sloter, who replaced the shoulder-injured Knipp in game 2 last season, was the subject of a bidding war involving the Broncos, Washington and Minnesota. He accepted the Vikings’ offer not only because he will receive a robust $20,000-a-week salary – nearly $13,000 more a week than is the NFL practice squad minimum – but because their quarterback room is less crowded than the Broncos.
After starter Trevor Siemian, the Broncos on Monday will have Osweiler once he passes his physical, first-round, second-year player Paxton Lynch, who is out for at least another month with a shoulder injury, and seventh-round rookie Chad Kelly on injured reserve with knee and wrist issues.
Sloter during four preseason games for the Broncos completed 31 of 43 for 413 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
By all accounts – he was not claimed on waivers Sunday – Sloter is not quite ready for first-team, regular-season game speed this year. The question is did he do right by 2018? And did the Broncos do right by signing Osweiler and losing Sloter?
The Broncos were also hoping to bring back Raymond, who finished as their returner in 2016 but was replaced by fifth-round rookie Isaiah McKenzie this year. Raymond nearly made the Broncos’ 53-man roster, but was the seventh man out.
The Jets tried to sign Raymond off the Broncos’ practice squad last year, but he wanted to stay in Denver and the team reciprocated by increasing his practice-squad pay.
Given another chance, the Jets to pass on Raymond this time as they claimed him off waivers before the Broncos had a chance to bring him back on their practice squad.