John Elway continues to hate having dead money on the cap

Denver Broncos GM John Elway. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos GM John Elway. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /

Whether you like his negotiating tactics or not, John Elway has a plan financially, great people around him, and he rarely pays players not on his roster…

John Elway hates having dead money on his salary cap.

What is dead money, you ask?

Dead money is money that counts against your team’s salary cap for players who aren’t on your roster because they were either cut or traded.

For example, when the Broncos traded Aqib Talib, they incurred $1 million in dead money while saving $11 million against the cap.

The Broncos also have a dead money hit on offensive lineman Ty Sambrailo, whom they traded to the Atlanta Falcons prior to the start of the 2017 season.

The only other player counting against the Broncos’ salary cap this year who will not be on the roster is offensive tackle Donald Stephenson with a dead money hit of $1 million (part of a renegotiated contract with the team last year).

In total, the Broncos have roughly $2.382 million in dead money on their salary cap this year, and that’s more than they have typically had. The reason they were willing to have that kind of dead money this year?

First and foremost, trading Talib netted them a day three draft pick in addition to $11 million in cap savings. The renegotiated contract with Donald Stephenson basically just allowed the Broncos to move on and move forward, but I find a few things interesting from this offseason.

There were rumors floating around that the Broncos could cut or trade players like Emmanuel Sanders, Brandon Marshall, Darian Stewart, or Derek Wolfe. There was this virtual certainty that the team would cut ties with Menelik Watson and C.J. Anderson.

There was even talk that the Broncos would let go of Demaryius Thomas.

Why did John Elway pull the trigger on literally zero of those moves, at least prior to the 2018 NFL Draft?

Because he hates dead money.

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With the exception of C.J. Anderson having no dead money if the Broncos were to release or trade him, the savings for the Broncos in 2018 would also come with significant dead money charges were they to rid of any of those other players.

Even Watson, who was horrible last season, would more than double Denver’s dead money charge in 2018, and that’s not something John Elway seems prepared to deal with.

The reason is simple. The Broncos don’t like to pay players who aren’t on their roster. That’s why Elway and Mike Sullivan have put together mostly team-friendly contracts. The Broncos are typically able to get out of contracts at the appropriate time without taking on too much dead money, and specifically for guys like Marshall, Stewart, Sanders, and Thomas, the cost of cutting the player and starting fresh is too great to justify.

When you are paying a player the majority of his annual salary to not be on your team, it’s just not a smart investment.

The Broncos realized it would have been foolish to take on big dead money hits for players they couldn’t adequately replace whether in free agency or the draft this year, when the dead money hits next offseason are far more palatable.

When looking at potential roster cuts, always remember that John Elway hates dead money.