Broncos waive Essang Bassey, their early-season nickel corner

Oct 3, 2023, 3:20 PM

Essang Bassey was effectively a starter for the first three games of the Denver Broncos’ season. Working as their nickel cornerback, he played 136 snaps in Weeks 1-3.

But by last Sunday against Chicago, he had a minimal role. He was the flashpoint of one of two changes made to the defensive lineup after the 70-point disaster in Miami, losing his nickel cornerback role to Ja’Quan McMillian. And two days later, he lost his grip on a roster spot, as the Broncos waived him.

It is the latest twist in an eventual summer and autumn that saw Bassey go from the roster fringes to a prominent role thanks to an outstanding preseason and an injury to No. 1 nickel corner K’Waun Williams. When Williams went on injured reserve after the 53-player roster deadline, Bassey had his spot on the Broncos’ first team.

Bassey’s preseason saw him record an interception in each of the Broncos’ three contests. He worked at both the nickel and safety spots, filling in at the latter when injuries decimated the position group.


When you surrender 70 points, everyone’s a culprit. Even All-Pro cornerback Pat Surtain II found himself on the business end of a long touchdown pass to Miami wide receiver Robbie Chosen.

But Essang Bassey particularly struggled in tackling. The Broncos as a team missed a whopping 24 tackles, per the data compiled by Pro Football Focus. Bassey was responsible for five of them.

Seven days later, his role on the defense nearly vanished. He played just seven snaps in the win over Chicago.

The decision to waive Bassey also comes at a key juncture for the Broncos in their ever-evolving roster-setting process. Baron Browning is eligible to come off the physically-unable-to-perform list this week. So are the players who landed on injured reserve prior to Week 1: Williams, offensive lineman Alex Palczewski and safety P.J. Locke.

Denver also faces a decision with practice-squad running back Dwayne Washington, as the team exhausted its complement of practice-squad activations for him. If Washington — a core special-teamer — is to play again this season, he will need to be on the 53-player roster.

Earlier in the day, the Broncos added WR Tre’Quan Smith to their practice squad. They released fellow wideout Michael Bandy from the practice squad to make room.



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Broncos waive Essang Bassey, their early-season nickel corner