CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Mark Sanchez never expected this to happen.
He began the Broncos' offseason workouts as the quarterback of the team. And in the next few days, if not hours, he could be off the team.
What Sanchez feared after his two-turnover performance against San Francisco became a reality last Saturday. He didn't play in the pivotal third preseason game, an ominous development. Trevor Siemian secured the starting job with a workmanlike performance -- no sacks, no turnovers -- but rookie Paxton Lynch struggled. It raised the question if the Broncos would attempt to keep Sanchez as a backup to allow Lynch more time to develop.
According to an NFL source, the Broncos began talks with Sanchez's representatives on Monday to go over potential scenarios. Three exist.
Denver could cut Sanchez, freeing up $3.5 million in cap space and keeping the seventh-round pick from the Philadelphia Eagles. Sanchez could take a steep pay cut, leaving him with a salary closer to the veteran minimum of $885,000-plus based on his service time. Sanchez has enjoyed his time in Denver. So while the natural reaction is to refuse a salary reduction, it's possible Sanchez would consider it. If the money is equal, he knows Denver's system and there's a chance he could play. The final scenario is a trade. The final scenario is a trade. The Broncos reached out to the Dallas Cowboys to check their interest. No deal is close, in part, because of Sanchez's contract. Suitors figure to be reluctant to trade for Sanchez if they believe he will become a free agent.
While Kubiak based his decision on the past five months, Sanchez didn't play poorly. His past haunted him. Sanchez proved the Broncos' most accurate, completing 20 of 30 passes for 219 yards. However, he threw an interception against the Bears and fumbled twice in the red zone against the 49ers. His turnovers link directly to his resume, fair or not, while Siemian and Lynch receive the benefit of doubt, in part, because of their youth.
If the Broncos cut ties with Sanchez, a street free agent like T.J. Yates could be signed as veteran protection not unlike Christian Ponder last season.
Heuerman, Weems practice
The Broncos most concerning positions beyond quarterback -- tight end and right guard -- received good news on Monday.
Jeff Heuerman, out two weeks with a hamstring injury, returned to practice. He has had a lost summer because of the leg issues. There's a chance he could play on Thursday. Darrion Weems cleared the concussion protocol and worked out Monday. He is the projected starter at right guard. If he's healthy, Michael Schofield shifts back into a utility role as a swing tackle and guard.
Fullback Andy Janovich, a missile on special teams, practiced after injuring his shoulder against the Rams. Wide receiver Cody Latimer sat out with a sleeve on his left knee. However, his injury is not considered serious.
Kapri Bibbs and Ronnie Hillman continue to fight for a final roster spot. Hillman, on the outs early in camp, has made a strong push. He led the Broncos in rushing last season, but has limited special teams experience, a determining factor.
Punter Britton Colquitt, asked to take a $1.6 million paycut, was with the team Monday. Carolina acquired punter Andy Lee on Monday, eliminating a potential trade partner for Colquitt.
Riley Dixon, the team's seventh-round choice, provided leverage for the Broncos to ask for a salary reduction because he has performed well. The feeling as of Monday night was that Colquitt is less likely to agree to a cut for the second straight year.