Broncos cut Royce Freeman after picking up another running back, Nate McCrary on waivers

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9News.com KUSA 01 September, 2021 - 02:53pm 17 views

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It doesn’t take long for many NFL players to go from exciting new starter to outcast.

Especially if those players line up at the running back position.

Royce Freeman, who the Broncos just three years ago considered so highly they selected him in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft to replace 1,000-yard rusher C.J. Anderson, is gone and temporarily unemployed after he was waived Wednesday.

Freeman was dispatched after the Broncos claimed another running back, Nate McCrary, off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens.

"In Royce’s situation, he was a guy we liked, he was always dependable. I’m sure he’s going to get claimed here in the next 24 hours," said Broncos coach Vic Fangio. “It was a tough decision, we liked Royce.”

A move like this, though, means the Broncos’ brass like McCrary better. He is a 6-foot, 213-pound undrafted rookie from Saginaw Valley State. He rushed for 1,060 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior in 2019, but his senior year of football was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In three preseason games with the Ravens, he rushed 163 yards on 42 carries.

"He showed good running ability in the preseason, our scouts have been following him," Fangio said. "And we felt it was worth a chance to take on him."

Freeman set all the career rushing records at Oregon where in four years he rushed 947 times for 5,621 yards and 79 touchdowns – 234 carries, 1,405 yards and 20 touchdowns a season. Soon after he was drafted, the Broncos released Anderson, who had rushed for 1,007 yards the previous year in 2017.

But maybe it was too much of a college workload for Freeman. He started the first-half of his rookie season with the Broncos, but then became the backup to undrafted rookie Phillip Lindsay. Freeman became the No. 3 running back last year behind Melvin Gordon III and Lindsay and he was the No. 4 back in training camp this year behind Gordon, second-round rookie Javonte Williams and free-agent pickup Mike Boone. When Boone suffered a quad pull during a join practice at Minnesota three weeks ago, it appeared Freeman would open the season as the No. 3 back. He did for a day.

2018 ... 130 ... 521 ... 4.0 ... 5

2019 ... 132 ... 496 ... 3.8 ... 3

2020 ..... 35 ... 170 ... 4.9 ... 0

The Broncos picked up a second player off waivers as they took cornerback Mike Ford from Detroit. Ford is a special teams players. To make room for Ford, the Broncos waived defensive lineman Jonathan Harris.

As for players the Broncos lost on waivers, safety Trey Marshall was claimed by the AFC West-rival Los Angeles Chargers, whose head coach Brandon Staley and defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill were both Broncos assistants in previous years. Undrafted rookie fullback Adam Prentice, formerly of Colorado State, was claimed by the New Orleans Saints.

To date, 14 Broncos players placed on waivers Tuesday and not claimed Wednesday were signed back on the team’s 16-man practice squad, including third-string quarterback Brett Rypien, who begins his third consecutive season on the Broncos’ practice squad. 

One player who didn’t sign back was second-year edge rusher Derrek Tuszka. A 7th-round draft pick out of North Dakota State last year, Tuszka was beat out for the No. 4 and 5 outside linebacker spots this year by rookies Jonathon Cooper and Andre Mintz.

Tuszka instead signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ practice squad, 9News has learned. The Steelers have the prototype system for 3-4 outside linebackers.

Denver Broncos headlines, game previews and interviews with our 9NEWS insider Mike Klis.

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Broncos cutting RB Royce Freeman after three seasons

NFL.com 01 September, 2021 - 09:10pm

In need of roster spots following Wednesday's waiver claims, the Denver Broncos are parting ways with running back Royce Freeman.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the Broncos are cutting the former third-round pick, per a source. The team has since announced the news.

In three seasons with Denver, Freeman averaged 4.0 yards per carry for 1,187 yards with eight touchdowns. He also caught 83 passes for 409 yards and another score. Much of his production came in his first two seasons in Denver, including eight starts as a rookie.

Last year's addition of Melvin Gordon took much of the pass-catching snaps away from Freeman. Denver selecting Javonte Williams in the second round in the 2021 NFL Draft signaled Freeman could be the odd man out. The Broncos will roll with a Gordon-Williams combo to head their backfield.

With dual-threat ability, Freeman should have little trouble finding a new home in a committee backfield.

Denver also signed Mike Boone this offseason, but the former Vikings' running back is dealing with a quad injury. Boone will land on IR and be out at least three weeks. Cutting Freeman indicates Denver is comfortable with Boone's rehab and believe they can lean on Gordon and Williams until the bruiser returns.

Freeman's release comes on the heels of Denver claiming running back Nate McCrary off waivers from Baltimore. The 6-foot, 213-pound Saginaw Valley State product signed with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent.

The Broncos also claimed defensive back/special teamer Mike Ford from Detroit.

Broncos sign 14 players to their practice squad

DenverBroncos.com 01 September, 2021 - 09:10pm

Denver signed 14 players to their practice squad on Wednesday, the team announced.

The Broncos added WR Tyrie Cleveland, WR Seth Williams, WR Kendall Hinton, T Drew Himmelman, T Quinn Bailey, TE Shaun Beyer, G/C Austin Schlottmann, QB Brett Rypien, RB Damarea Crockett, DL Marquiss Spencer, CB Nate Hairston, LB Barrington Wade, LB Curtis Robinson and CB Mac McCain III to their 16-player practice squad.

All 14 players competed with the Broncos during training camp and the preseason. The practice squad includes two 2021 draft picks — Williams (a sixth-round pick) and Spencer (a seventh-round pick) — and a 2020 draft pick in Cleveland. Williams and Spencer were the only two picks from Denver's 2021 draft that did not make the active roster.

Practice squad players are eligible to sign to Denver's active roster during the season and also can each be promoted twice on game days without being exposed to waivers en route back to the practice squad.

The Broncos are eligible to sign as many as six vested veterans to the practice squad.

Broncos To Waive RB Royce Freeman

profootballrumors.com 01 September, 2021 - 09:10pm

After making multiple waiver additions Wednesday, the Broncos cleared space for the new arrivals by cutting Royce Freeman, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Freeman was set to go into his fourth season with the Broncos, but the team made multiple offseason moves to affect the former third-round pick’s standing. Denver signing Mike Boone and drafting Javonte Williams in Round 2 threatened Freeman’s roster spot, but after Boone suffered a quadriceps injury during training camp, the veteran runner made the team’s initial 53-man roster. But he is now headed for the waiver wire.

The Broncos claimed running back Nate McCrary off waivers from the Ravens on Wednesday and also added cornerback Mike Ford via the wire. McCrary is a rookie UDFA out of Division II Saginaw Valley State. He will be in line to play behind Williams and Melvin Gordon, which was to be Freeman’s role with Boone sidelined. The Lions waived Ford on Monday, doing so after he played three seasons with the team.

Acquired during John Elway‘s GM run, Freeman saw his playing time steadily decrease in Denver. The ex-Oregon Duck lost out to Phillip Lindsay as the Broncos’ primary back early, and after playing the B-side to Lindsay from 2018-19, Freeman was Denver’s third-stringer last season — after the team signed Gordon in free agency.

The between-the-tackles runner did average 4.9 yards per carry in 2020, but that came on just 35 totes. Freeman, 25, totaled just more than 1,000 yards over his first two seasons, rushing for eight touchdowns in that span.

I guess Williams’ selection made Freeman more expendable, but honestly, the guy’s done nothing but play well since being picked, even after Gordon was signed to take away his carries. Gordon wasn’t awful, of course, but Freeman was Denver’s most efficient back per carry while backing him up, which was good to see after his huge workload in college.

Lindsay of course was turned loose after Gordon’s insertion into the lineup despite mostly playing well, so it’s not an absolute surprise, but I still often wonder why Freeman got set aside so easily by the staff.

Broncos fill 14 spots on their 16-man practice squad

Mile High Report 01 September, 2021 - 03:27pm

The Denver Broncos have filled out most of their practice squad adding 14 players on Wednesday.

We have been tracking all of the practice squad moves and other transactions today, but it looks like Denver is done for now.

Personally, I had hoped to see tight end Austin Fort get another crack at making the roster, however, the team decided to go with Shaun Beyer on their practice squad. They also picked up a few recent draft picks in Tyrie Cleveland, Seth Williams, and Marquiss Spencer.

The biggest surprise of the day was likely the releasing of running back Royce Freeman. The team claimed Nate McCrary of waivers, which likely spelled the end of Freeman’s tenure here. McCrary was a guy the Broncos team scouts had been watching since he joined the Baltimore Ravens.

What are you takeaways from both the initial 53-man roster and the moves the Broncos made today to fill out the practice squad? Let us know in the comments section.

Broncos fill 14 spots on their 16-man practice squad

Predominantly Orange 01 September, 2021 - 03:27pm

The Denver Broncos have filled out most of their practice squad adding 14 players on Wednesday.

We have been tracking all of the practice squad moves and other transactions today, but it looks like Denver is done for now.

Personally, I had hoped to see tight end Austin Fort get another crack at making the roster, however, the team decided to go with Shaun Beyer on their practice squad. They also picked up a few recent draft picks in Tyrie Cleveland, Seth Williams, and Marquiss Spencer.

The biggest surprise of the day was likely the releasing of running back Royce Freeman. The team claimed Nate McCrary of waivers, which likely spelled the end of Freeman’s tenure here. McCrary was a guy the Broncos team scouts had been watching since he joined the Baltimore Ravens.

What are you takeaways from both the initial 53-man roster and the moves the Broncos made today to fill out the practice squad? Let us know in the comments section.

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