Russell Okung: Major shakeup in left tackle market and latest reports


Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post reports that Russell Okung is not likely to take a pay cut, and multiple major dominoes fall in the left tackle market…

As NFL free agency is rapidly approaching, the Denver Broncos will most certainly have their eyes on the left tackle market, especially as it pertains to incumbent starter Russell Okung. Okung was signed to a modest one-year contract in 2016, which becomes a four-year, $48 million deal if the Broncos accept a team option prior to the start of the new league year.

After a season of somewhat inconsistent play, paying the premium of $12 million per season could end up being too steep, which has led to speculation that the Broncos could (or should) ask Okung to take a pay cut.

According to a report from Cameron Wolfe of The Denver Post, that’s not likely to happen…

With news that Okung is not likely to be taking a reduction in pay also came news that the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars had declined team options on high-priced left tackles Ryan Clady and Kelvin Beachum, respectively.

There’s nothing really surprising about either of these moves, though the Jaguars’ decision to let Beachum go is more of a surprise than the news on Clady. To some degree, these players have struggled with injuries, including Okung.

That will undoubtedly factor into John Elway and the front office’s decision of what they will do moving forward. The fiscally responsible move is certainly not to invest $12 million per season into a player you aren’t sure will produce at an elite level.

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That would seem to make this decision a little bit easier for the Broncos, but finding good left tackle play is tough in today’s NFL.

That said, there are options out there for the Broncos, though none are overly appealing long-term via free agency. The best player on the market is Andrew Whitworth, who is the top graded free agent according to Pro Football Focus metrics. Whitworth will have suitors, but because of his age, might not come at a price that is out of the Broncos’ range. He could be an option, but the Broncos could also look to a more inexpensive veteran and draft someone like Ryan Ramczyk or Garett Bolles to be their left tackle of the future.

No matter what happens, some big dominoes have fallen here, and the report of Okung’s willingness to take a pay cut — or lack thereof — could be critical in the Broncos’ plans moving forward.