Measurables: 6-foot-0, 200 pounds .
2014 stats: five receptions, 47 yards, 12 kick returns, 278 yards, 23.2 YPR.
When Andre “Bubba” Caldwell left the University of Florida in 2008 for the NFL, he left as the school’s all-time leader in receptions (185) and receiving yards (2,349). He was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.
In Cincinnati, Caldwell’s best season came in 2009, when he caught 51 passes for 432 yards and three touchdowns. As a backup/rotational player, when his rookie contract expired, the Bengals had no qualms letting him go.
Caldwell came to the Denver Broncos on a two-year deal in 2012, but nobody can really figure out why (or how) he’s stuck around. There have been times when he’s stepped in for injured players and performed well—most notably for Wes Welker in Week 15 of 2013—but largely, he’s been a veteran depth player the Broncos have yet to truly turn to.
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Instead of promoting Caldwell, the Broncos front office have gone elsewhere to find starting-caliber players, such as Welker, Cody Latimer and Emmanuel Sanders. What probably keeps Caldwell around is his willingness to play special teams and his veteran savvy.
The Broncos signed him to a two-year extension worth $3.5M in March of 2014, but the team could save $1.35M on the salary cap, with only $200,000 in dead money, if they cut him before the regular season begins. With a new coaching staff in place, Caldwell has his work cut out for him.
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Demaryius Thomas’ holdout from all offseason training activities has likely helped Caldwell’s cause, but the fact that Jordan Norwood and Bennie Fowler are reportedly playing very well doesn’t bode well for him. Last season, the Broncos used Caldwell in the kick return game, but as you can see from the numbers above, he merely held down the fort.
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Moving forward, it would not surprise me to see the Broncos part ways with Caldwell, unless he has a tremendous camp. I’m talking about the kind of camp that sees him leapfrog a prominent player, like Cody Latimer. But frankly, I don’t see that happening.
Norwood can field punts and kicks, and at the very least, Fowler could return kicks. At the end of the day, I see the Broncos going with youth over seniority, which puts Caldwell on the outside looking in.