Denver Broncos: Re-structure an option with OG Ron Leary
The Denver Broncos face some tough roster decisions in the coming weeks, one of which is the possibility of cutting offensive guard Ron Leary.
The Denver Broncos know the truth of the old adage, “availability is the best ability” all too well.
Football is a violent game, and injuries are part of the deal, but the Broncos certainly expected more out of offensive guard Ron Leary when he signed a big free agent contract in the 2017 offseason.
Leary was a member of the vaunted Dallas Cowboys offensive line and filled an important hole up front for the Broncos. Although his play in 2017 was strong, it seems to have slightly declined as injuries have derailed Leary’s time with the Broncos over the last three seasons.
Since he was signed in 2017, Leary has missed a total of 19 games while being counted on at either guard position.
With a cap hit over $9.3 million this year, fifth-highest on the Broncos’ current roster, Leary is in line to be a potential cap casualty as the team could save almost $8.44 million by releasing him.
That currently seems to be the likeliest option for the Broncos but we would be remiss if we didn’t consider any alternatives. Leary is still just 31 and he’s a solid starter when healthy, and although relying on him to stay healthy remains a major question mark, the Broncos might consider the option of retaining Leary on a restructured contract.
It takes two to tango for something like this, because essentially a ‘restructured’ deal would mean a straight up pay cut and Leary doing the Broncos a favor.
Considering he’s missed more than entire regular season’s worth of work at this point, he may be amenable to it.
The top 10 guards in the NFL make an average of about $12 million per year. Leary’s cap hit of over $9.3 million would be below average in that regard, but of the top 64 players at guard in the NFL (every team starts two, of course), only half make $5 million or more per season on average.
This proposition would have to include the Broncos both being interested in Leary coming back and Leary being amenable to returning to Denver with substantially reduced pay, but I would propose that the Broncos make Leary a two-year offer worth the total of his current cap hit, roughly $9.3 million, with a lot of incentives, perhaps just under half guaranteed up front in the form of a restructure bonus.
I’m not a salary cap guru, and I know the business side of the NFL does not always work this way, but Leary could potentially return to Denver in 2020 and re-establish himself while the Broncos could pencil him in as the starting right guard and still pursue other options in the 2020 NFL Draft.
If Leary is willing, the Broncos might at least consider something like this. It would throw some guaranteed money at Leary, who has very little left on his current contract, and would allow him the opportunity to prove to Denver why they signed him to a big-money deal in the first place.
While an outright release is still probably more likely, this is a possibility both sides could be willing to consider.