The Denver Broncos are obviously more than willing to eat Case Keenum’s huge dead cap number with the addition of Joe Flacco.
Though the impact across the entire roster looms large, no one currently on the Denver Broncos’ roster is affected more than quarterback Case Keenum by the addition of Joe Flacco.
The trade for Flacco cannot officially go through until March, but it’s been reported he’s already made his way to Denver and taken (and passed) a physical with the team.
Flacco’s presence means Keenum is likely paying elsewhere in 2019, but how is that all going to work? Because of Flacco’s $18.5 million base salary for 2019 and Keenum’s $21 million cap hit, it makes little or even no sense that the Broncos would trade for Flacco without some kind of trade in place for Keenum.
Why a trade, specifically? If the Broncos trade Keenum as opposed to release him, they would have only $3 million in dead money as opposed to $10 million.
The problem? No one in the NFL is going to want to trade for Keenum’s $18 million base salary. Why would they after the year he had in 2018? That would be essentially paying $1 million per touchdown pass he threw.
Everyone in the NFL now knows the Broncos have no choice but to release Keenum, and that’s exactly what they’re going to be forced to do in all likelihood.
If — perhaps when — the Broncos release Keenum, they will free up $11 million in cap space but they will have $10 million in dead money on the 2019 salary cap.
What does that mean? It means the Broncos are going to be paying almost $28 million for Joe Flacco and Case Keenum combined, even though only one is going to be on the team.
The Broncos could get out of paying Keenum a portion of that $10 million depending on what he signs for with another team, but because he’s making $10 million from the Broncos this year, he could just take the league minimum at another location to try and help that team fill out their roster.
Keenum’s contract has a guarantee in his base salary of $7 million (with offset language, more on that in a bit) and a $3 million prorated signing bonus to make up that $10 million.
So about that offset language…
What that means is that if Keenum were to sign a $2 million contract with another team, it would take $2 million off of whatever the Broncos owe him in guaranteed base salary. That $7 million would go down to $5 million in that case.
Therefore, the more Keenum gets after signing with another team, the less he will cost the Broncos this year.
The veteran minimum for a player of Keenum’s experience (eight years in the league) is $930,000. That means the Broncos will be on the hook for a minimum of $9.07 million for Keenum this year.
That would surpass Menelik Watson’s dead money figure of almost $7 million from last year.
The acquisition of Flacco means the Broncos are willing to pay the hefty price to get Keenum off their hands, and maybe they’re banking on a bit of a bidding war for his services when he becomes a free agent to push that dead money figure down a bit.