COLUMNS

For a moment this week, Broncos NT Mike Purcell thought the worst

Sep 1, 2022, 1:26 AM
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 27: Mike Purcell #98 of the Denver Broncos reacts after making a tackle ...
(Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Mike Purcell kept his job, kept his contract terms and kept his role with his hometown team. In other words, it was all good news for the 31-year-old nose tackle — in the end.

But for a moment Tuesday, it seemed to Purcell that cut day might result in the unhappy ending every player dreads.

“I kind of walked in here [Tuesday], and obviously the scouts were here with everything going on throughout the day,” Purcell said.

Then, one offered the dreaded words:

“George wants to talk to you.”

George, of course, refers to Broncos general manager George Paton.

“I thought, ‘What?'” Purcell said.

As he absorbed the news while walking upstairs at UCHealth Training Center, he braced himself for the worst. He also knew what his contract situation meant: the Broncos could save $3.5 million by releasing him.

“At first, yeah. It goes through everybody’s mind at this time of year,” Purcell said.

Then he walked into Paton’s office.

“He just kind of sat me down,” Purcell said. “[Paton said], ‘At the end of the day, we kind of need a favor. There are some certain things we have to maneuver, the roster here and there.'”

It was as simple as this: The Broncos wanted to place two players on recallable injured reserve: TE Greg Dulcich and CB Michael Ojemudia. To do that, they had to carry them on the 53-man roster for a day. After that, they could move the two first-contract players to injured reserve, freeing up two roster spots.

The key for Purcell and the other player in his situation, TE Eric Tomlinson, was that both are vested veterans. Thus, neither is subject to the waiver process by which any team could claim their contract and immediately gain their rights.

Vested veterans have four previous accrued seasons in the NFL. Purcell and Tomlinson each had six. So, the Broncos could cut them and bring them back — as long as they agreed to the arrangement.

“When [Paton] explained the whole thing, I had no problem with it,” Purcell said.

What’s more, Purcell noted that when the Broncos brought him back Wednesday, they did so under the same contract terms that existed before they cut him.

Purcell did the Broncos a favor by agreeing to the cut-and-re-sign frenzy.

Officially, this marked the 11th time an NFL team cut Purcell since his first training camp, with the San Francisco 49ers in 2013.

But this one had a happy ending right away.

“I knew I wasn’t going to go anywhere,” Purcell said, “At the end of the day, if you want to look at it where I could have gone somewhere else, I could have. But I don’t want to be anywhere else.”

Part of it is the fact that the Highlands Ranch native can remain the local kid made good. But an even bigger aspect is the possibilities that lay in front of the Broncos.

Purcell endured the bleeding and lost hope in the last three seasons. Now, he wants to be a part of the rewards.

“I want to be here,” he said. “I’m looking forward to what this team has to offer.”

Even though he had to first be cut to be a part of it.

***

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