By Zack Kelberman
(247 SPORTS) – Two weeks into his NFL career, Lowell Lotulelei is hanging up his cleats.
The Broncos on Monday waived the rookie nose tackle, whom they signed last month as an undrafted free agent, according to Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic. He’s the first member of the team’s 2018 class to get the ax, and it was swung at his discretion.
Tony Pauline of draftanalyst.com reports Lotulelei informed Denver that he’s retiring from football, with hopes of getting into coaching.
The younger brother of former Panthers and current Bills defensive tackle Star, Lotulelei (6-2, 315) was a four-year contributor at Utah, where he recorded 103 tackles (53 solo), 21 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and two forced fumbles. He was considered a physical and decently athletic space-eater, but some NFL decision-makers questioned his commitment to the game.
“Scouts have serious concerns about Lotulelei’s love of football and overall work ethic,” his NFL.com scouting report reads. “He was slow and sloppy this season and his quickness suffered badly because of it. Teams looking to draft him will have to be leaning on his 2015 or 2016 tape because he was a reject in 2017. If he doesn’t commit himself to the work it takes to be a pro, he will have a hard time sticking around.”
It appears these concerns were legitimate. The Broncos, who gave Lotulelei a $15,000 signing bonus, just concluded their three-day rookie orientation Sunday.
His departure is positive news for the remaining DTs on the offseason roster, including Paul Boyette and DeShawn Williams. The team needs to lock down a long-term successor to 33-year-old starter Domata Peko. Peko’s cousin Kyle is in the mix, but the Broncos are said to be high on Williams, who’s familiar with head coach Vance Joseph from their time in Cincinnati.
Although Lotulelei’s fate was decided quickly, there are a few other UDFAs with a better chance of sticking around. Running back Phillip Lindsay is expected to compete for the starting punt returner job and outside linebacker Jeff Holland — a consensus mid-round talent — could crack the ultra-crowded depth chart.
“We had a draftable grade on him as an outside linebacker. It was really cool to get him signed,” Joseph said Saturday. “Every free agent we signed had a draftable grade on our board. All eight guys had draftable grades. That’s always cool, and that’s the eighth round of the draft. We’ve had great success here at Denver, with guys like [CB] Chris Harris Jr. and last year with [CB Marcus] Rios, [S Dymonte] Thomas and [S] Jamal Carter. We’ve had great success with eight-round drafts. Hopefully it happens again.”