By Zack Kelberman
DENVER (247 SPORTS) – Demaryius Thomas was the lone casualty Tuesday.
The Denver Broncos traded the veteran wide receiver — and only the veteran wide receiver — ahead of the 4 p.m. ET NFL deadline. General manager John Elway had confirmed in a press conference Tuesday afternoon that, barring an eleventh-hour offer, he’s finished making moves “at this point.”
Elway revealed that he’d discussed deals involving other players, but nothing came close to materializing. The Broncos reportedly dangled a host of starters and key contributors on the block, all of whom they’ll continue do battle with over the final eight games of the season.
It probably wasn’t by choice. Elway is known to set his price and not waver from it, so interested suitors didn’t meet his fixed demands. Hence, no dice.
Regardless, here’s a look at the purported bubble Broncos staying put.
ILB Brandon Marshall: A knee injury suffered in Week 8 may have torpedoed some of his value. It made sense to unload him, though, as he’s overpaid, underperforming and being slowly phased out in favor of rookie Josey Jewell. Marshall is under contract through 2020, and there’s no guaranteed money left on his deal. He’s a candidate for release this offseason.
OLB Shane Ray: There are a few Broncos who won’t return next year, putting the team in a position to milk them for something before they walk for free. Ray heads this shortlist, having lost his starting spot to rookie Bradley Chubb. Denver declined Ray’s fifth-year option for next season, making him a soon-to-be unrestricted free agent. Pass-rushers aren’t easy to find, but market scarcity didn’t work to the Broncos’ advantage.
CB Bradley Roby: Roby, like Ray, is scheduled to hit the open market in March. And, like Ray, he doesn’t appear in the club’s future plans. Not after a dreadful 2018 campaign in which he’s continually burned by opposing wideouts and hopelessly misused in a zone scheme. Because the Broncos remain thin in their secondary, Roby was retained as the No. 2 CB, who’s slated to guard new-Texan Thomas on Sunday. There’s a non-zero chance he re-signs in free agency, however.
WR Emmanuel Sanders: A previous report stated that Sanders isn’t available, nor should he have been. The 31-year-old is in the midst of a revival, leading the Broncos with 50 receptions for 660 yards and three touchdowns. Although Sanders’ replacement (DaeSean Hamilton) is already on the roster, he’s easily their best WR — a bright spot for an otherwise disappointing passing game. One had to go, and it was Thomas.
RB Devontae Booker: This had no legs before starting RB Royce Freeman went down with a high ankle sprain. It’s a dead issue now considering the Broncos have nobody behind Phillip Lindsay and Booker. To the latter’s credit, he ran extremely well in Week 8, notching 101 total yards (78 rushing, 23 receiving). It was Booker’s most significant work since the rookie duo took his job, and he certainly capitalized. The Broncos are high on his multi-faceted skill-set.
CB Chris Harris Jr.: You can never put anything past John Elway, but the prospect of trading Harris qualifies as lunacy. It would’ve triggered a fan revolt and perhaps even fractured a tenuous locker room. After Von Miller, he’s absolutely the most untouchable player in Denver. On his way to another Pro Bowl/All-Pro selection, Harris is actually underpaid and should be rewarded rather than touted in ludicrous rumors.