Broncos can be Major Players in NFL Free Agency


The consensus is the Denver Broncos are in salary cap trouble.

There’s no way John Elway can do anything with Peyton Manning’s huge cap hit and Demaryius Thomas at least taking close to $13 million if he gets the franchise tag. And then what about all the Broncos free agents? And what about the draft?

There’s just no way Elway and the Broncos will be able to do anything. They will take a step back, they thought.

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Then the NFL released the salary cap for the 2015 season, and that’s $143.28 million. Then news came out that Denver’s 2015 salary cap was $150.066 million.That number was released by the NFL Players Association and is based on the carryover from the 2014 season. The Broncos carryover $5.87 million from last season’s cap. The $150.066 million is the 11th highest in the NFL.

Monday (March 1) was the deadline for teams to put the franchise tag on players. Denver used its non-exclusive tag on Thomas, which puts his cap number at $12.82 million.

As it stands now, the Broncos have around $17.2 million in cap space. That’s before contract restructures or player releases.

If the Broncos were to (hopefully) cut Manny Ramirez ($3 million in savings), Chris Clark ($1.4 million), Andre Caldwell ($1.35 million) and Britton Colquitt after June 1 because of dead money ($3 million), they would have over $25 million in cap space. Again, that doesn’t include contract restructures.

Let’s say Manning and left tackle Ryan Clady each restructure their contracts for a minimum of $2.5 million each – that would push Denver over $30 million in cap space.

Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) against the Indianapolis Colts in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Colts defeated the Broncos 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Tell me again how dire Elway and the Broncos’ salary cap situation is. Those moves make total sense since there’s no justification in those four players making that kind of money, especially when it frees up that much space.

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Tell me again how unrealistic it is for Elway and the Broncos to sign defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Or any of the free agent offensive lineman like center Rodney Hudson, guard Mike Iupati and right tackle Bryan Bulaga. Or all all of them at the same time. With that much cap space, it’s entirely possible.

People forget how much of a master Elway and his front office staff are at the cap. My numbers are based on Manning and Clady restructuring for at least $2.5 million each. It’s possible that could turn into more, and Denver is already over $30 million at this point.

One of the aspects that makes the NFL fun is people can play GM with their favorite team. In some cases the hopes are unrealistic and they’re not possible. They want to sign any and every free agent with no thought for the cap or if they fit the team. But when you do your research you find situations like this. If I have done this research and found these answers, Elway and the Broncos have.

The consensus for some in Broncos Country is that Denver simply cannot be a major player for the big name free agents. That they’re in trouble with the cap. That they will take a step back.

Have a little more faith in the man in charge at Dove Valley. Things are never as dire as one imagines.

Next: Demaryius Thomas is not worth the money

Next: Broncos hope to sign Thomas to long-term deal

Sep 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) catches a pass during the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports