Despite outstanding close to preseason, Broncos waive Albert Okwuegbunam

Aug 29, 2023, 9:45 AM | Updated: 4:27 pm

Albert Okwuegbunam...

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

*** This story has been updated below ***

A brilliant closing act to the preseason wasn’t enough for Albert Okwuegbunam to survive the roster deadline.

As first reported by KUSA-Ch. 9’s Mike Klis, the Broncos will waive the fourth-year tight end. The move came after an eventual training camp and preseason that saw Okwuegbunam drop to the No. 5 position on the depth chart, then surge first by showing improvement as a blocker and special teamer, then by dominating as a pass catcher, with 4 touchdowns in two joint practices against the Rams last week.

He closed with a 109-yard, 1-touchdown performance in Saturday’s preseason finale.

“He had a big night. I mean, holy cow,” Broncos coach Sean Payton said in the wake of the performance.

But with Adam Trautman, Greg Dulcich and Chris Manhertz appearing to be roster locks — along with versatile Nate Adkins impressing — it wasn’t enough.

One reason could be special-teams use. Last year, a lack of a special-teams role was a reason why Okwuegbunam languished as a healthy scratch for most of the campaign. Reserve tight ends typically must have a multi-faceted role in that phase to justify a roster spot relative to overall team construction. He worked in that phase this summer, but it did not appear to be enough.


The decision to part ways with Albert Okwuegbunam also adds another layer to the disappointment that is the Broncos’ 2020 NFL Draft class, which was the final draft helmed by then-general manager John Elway.

Of the 10 players drafted, just three remain on the roster: WR Jerry Jeudy, center Lloyd Cushenberry and ILB Justin Strnad. Making matters worse is the fact that four of the Broncos’ first six picks in that draft — in Rounds 1-4 — are no longer with the team.

Prior to Okwuegbunam, the Broncos waived KJ Hamler during training camp after three injury-plagued seasons and a recent bout with pericarditis. Denver also parted ways with third-round choices McTelvin Agim and Michael Ojemudia last season.

Overall, just 5 of 26 choices from the 2018-20 drafts remain on the roster. This is part of why the Broncos’ depth remains short of where it needs to be. And although the Broncos had nearly an apples-to-apples replacement of 2019 draft pick Dre’Mont Jones with five-year veteran Zach Allen in free agency, the draft shortcomings remain an anvil around the team’s overall roster construction.

(Update – 4:27 p.m.)

The Broncos ended up finding a last-minute trade partner for Okwuegbunam, sending him to the Eagles for a small amount of draft compensation.



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