ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Promising young players conspired to make two Broncos veterans expendable on Monday. The Broncos cut defensive lineman Zach Kerr and outside linebacker Dekoda Watson, per sources, unclogging roster spots and creating some financial flexibility to add depth at inside linebacker or possibly the offense line.
Kerr, pictured, was due to make $1.5 million this season as a rotational lineman who had shown prowess as a run stopper for Denver in recent seasons. The Broncos will take a cap hit of $300,000 this year and next with the Kerr transaction. However, DeMarcus Walker and Mike Purcell delivered strong pushes to make the team this summer. Walker, a disappointing second-round pick from 2017, has clicked with new coach Vic Fangio and his staff, while showing more strength with 15 pounds of added weight. He has been active in the preseason, showing better penetration on run plays.
"I keep saying it, but I really appreciate the coaching staff, coach Vic and coach (Ed) Donatell. They are great coaches. They get the best out of you. And the work I have put in since January has made a difference," said Walker, who knows he's not a lock until the final roster is released. "I have focused on controlling what I can control, and I pushed my body to the limit."
Like Kerr, Watson was a popular veteran among teammates. But his spot became jeopardized with the emergence of undrafted rookie Malik Reed and draft pick Justin Hollins. The Broncos used a fifth-round pick to acquire Watson during the draft to help shore up special teams. Fangio has been disappointed in the group's performance overall. Watson is entering his 10th season, and was looking to experience success in an old stop, having played well for the Broncos in 2016.
Moving on from Kerr and Watson frees $3.25 million in cap space for a team that had little room. The Broncos could use the flexibility as they seek depth at inside linebacker and offensive line. The Broncos expressed interest in linebacker Paul Worrilow before he signed with the Ravens last week and subsequently retired. Starting inside linebacker Todd Davis expects to return from a calf injury that has caused him to miss all but one training camp practice. Yet, uncertainty remains about his availability, and he could be on a play count if he is ready. The backup inside backers have yet to distinguish themselves in a way to prevent the addition of a possible veteran.
Alexander Johnson has shown flashes, but is inconsistent. Same goes for former CSU standout Josh Watson and Jamal Carter, who is microwaving his transition from safety and showed improvement against the Rams. Keishawn Bierria produced a goal-line stop against the Rams. He's been playing as Josey Jewell's backup.
"I would say I am the veteran (among the backups)," Bierria said. "It's definitely on me to go out there and make plays."