Garett Bolles’ big news over the weekend nearly went unnoticed.
You probably heard the huge Denver Broncos news over the weekend, right?
Garett Bolles signed a four-year contract extension to keep him as the Broncos’ left tackle through the 2024 season.
Other than Bolles’ contract, nothing out of the ordinary happened in Broncos Country over the weekend.
In all seriousness, the Broncos’ quarterback situation from Saturday through Sunday completely dominated the headlines, and rightfully so. That situation is unprecedented in the last 50 years in the NFL and it makes sense that such huge news would push something like a contract extension onto the backburner.
With the quarterback news in the rearview, it’s time to bring back into the light the news that should have been the biggest for the Denver Broncos over the weekend — Garett Bolles’ four-year, $68 million pay day.
Bolles has been tremendous for the Broncos in 2020, and each week his price tag for the 2021 offseason was going up. But Bolles obviously wanted to be in Denver, and the Broncos wanted to reward his strong play with a new deal that will keep one of the NFL’s breakthrough players in 2020 in place through his age 32 season.
For the majority of his first three NFL seasons, Bolles’ best ability was his availability. Other than that, he struggled with technique, sloppy penalties, and frankly he struggled just to match up with NFL pass rushers in general.
The Broncos brought in noted offensive line guru Mike Munchak to work with Bolles and the rest of their unit in 2019, and down the stretch of the 2019 season, it looked like Bolles had really turned a corner.
That continued into the 2020 season and Bolles has been one of the best and most consistent offensive tackles in the league through 11 games.
As Schefter noted in his tweet, the Broncos declined the fifth-year option they previously had on Bolles, which would have been worth around $11 million in 2021.
Depending on how you look at things, the decision to decline that option either looks really dumb or really smart by the Broncos.
For some, it seems like the Broncos wasted a great opportunity to get Bolles at a reduced cost in 2021 and have the negotiating leverage of the franchise tag in 2022 to get him at the team’s preferred price.
For others, the decision to decline the fifth-year option for Bolles could have been the spark he needed to really get his game turned around. It could also be argued that getting an extension done with Bolles now at $17 million per season will look like a bargain, even 365 days from now.
Bolles’ deal at $17 million per season puts him at the 5th-highest average annual value among tackles in the NFL, with players like David Bakhtiari and Laremy Tunsil leading the way at $23 million and $22 million, respectively.
Other offensive tackles are only going to try to top those big numbers, and the new benchmark for guys who have really played well throughout the majority of their existing contracts is probably going to be at least $20 million per season.
With Bolles, the Broncos had the leverage of the franchise tag but also more than two years of sub-par play.
Bolles has visibly turned a corner this season and it’s been a great sight to see. The 2017 first-round pick is only the second first-round pick in John Elway’s tenure to get a contract extension (Von Miller is the other).
The Denver Broncos have a crucial offseason ahead in 2021. What moves should the team plan on making to get the arrow pointing up?
Considering that just over a year ago it looked like he was on the way to forcing the Broncos into needing a replacement, this is a great development and hopefully, the start of a positive trend for Broncos first-round picks taken after 2017.