Best and Worst Contracts 2016: Denver Broncos

Today we’ll start the AFC West with our best and worst selection for the Denver Broncos.

Best: Chris Harris, 5 years, $42.5 million, $10M guaranteed

John Elway pulled off one of the greatest con jobs of all time to get Harris to agree to this contract late in the 2014 season. Harris was already gaining recognition around the NFL as one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL and he was every bit as good as teammate Aqib Talib. At the least Harris should have matched Talib’s $9.5M per year contract, but he’ll end up earning $6.5 million less over a 5 year period. While his overall guarantee of $24 million is closer to Talib’s that in no way should make up for the differential. Continue reading Best and Worst Contracts 2016: Denver Broncos »

Thoughts on Russell Okung’s Contract with the Broncos

The Russell Okung contract figures came out today and there have been primarily negative opinions on the contract he signed with the Denver Broncos. For those unaware Okung acted as his own agent and represented himself in these negotiations. That decision immediately put many people tied to the agent community in a position where anything he did short of a top 3 contract at the position was going to be criticized. So I wanted to weigh in and offer my opinions on the contract which hopefully are unbiased in looking at deal. Continue reading Thoughts on Russell Okung’s Contract with the Broncos »

Russell Okung to Denver

Josina Anderson tweeted that the Broncos are about to sign LT Russell Okung to a deal worth reportedly $10.6 million per season over the next five seasons and they re-signed CJ Anderson to a deal worth $18 million total over four seasons a few days ago. These are some of the moves you’re allowed to make to build up the rest of your roster when you let Brock Osweiler walk for $18 million per season.

Continue reading Russell Okung to Denver »

Did the Broncos Make a Mistake with CJ Anderson

John Elway has come under heavy criticism for the handling of the CJ Anderson contract. Anderson, a restricted free agent, was given the lowest possible tender by the Broncos which gave them the right to match any contract offer but receive no compensation if Anderson joined another team. For about another $900,000 Elway could have received a 2nd round draft pick if Anderson joined another team, compensation that essentially acts as a block to free agency. Anderson, of course, signed with Miami and the Broncos matched the offer but rather than paying $2.5 million this year will pay $6 million. Is it a mistake by the Broncos?  It depends on Elway’s long term thoughts on Anderson and attempts they made to re-sign him prior to free agency. Continue reading Did the Broncos Make a Mistake with CJ Anderson »

2016 Cap Analytics: Denver Broncos

Expected Contract OutcomesExpected Contract Value 2.0 utilizes an algorithm based on a player’s contract characteristics, age, position and 2015 performance to forecast probabilities as to the outcomes of contract termination decisions.   The lower the Expected Outcome, the more likely the player’s contract will be terminated in 2016.  A pay cut is treated as a termination.  We have applied ECV 2.0 to all contracts scheduled to count $2 million or more against the 2016 salary cap with the exception of exercised 5th year rookie options.  Expected Savings is the calculated by multiplying the probability a player will be released by the cap savings realized by the team upon such release.

Continue reading 2016 Cap Analytics: Denver Broncos »

Looking Ahead to Von Miller’s Upcoming Contract Negotiation

Von Miller had one of the more historic playoff runs you will ever see for a defender. Between the AFC Championship and the Super Bowl Miller recorded 5 sacks, two forced fumbles, one interception and topped it off by being named MVP of the Super Bowl. In Miller’s five seasons in the NFL he has been a devastating force whose ability to pressure the quarterback is arguably tops in the NFL. He has thrived in multiple defensive schemes and might be the most dangerous defensive player in the NFL. He is up for a new contract this year and will look to set the market for defensive players. We’ll examine some of the particulars that may go into his contract talks and see if we can come up with something that might be reasonable for both sides. Continue reading Looking Ahead to Von Miller’s Upcoming Contract Negotiation »

Broncos 2015 Salary Cap Outlook

Estimated 2015 Cap Space: $27.7M ($143M cap limit)

Roster Overview

Players Under Contract: 58
Pro Bowlers: 9
Unrestricted Free Agents: 12(7 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 28

Salary Cap Breakdown

Broncos 2015 Salary Cap

Broncos Offenive Spending

Broncos Defensive Spending

Free Agents to Re-sign

Demaryius Thomas is more or less an irreplaceable player and needs to be signed long term.  He is a top 5 player at the position and can make plays anywhere on the field. The Broncos will likely use the franchise tag on him but it is in the best interests of both sides to get him locked up long term…Orlando Franklin’s versatility along the offensive line makes him a valuable asset. With the Broncos likely becoming a more balanced offense and Peyton Manning possibly heading off into retirement in the next year or two, having a player like Franklin gives the team a core to work with in the development of a younger player…This looks to be a weak group of safeties in free agency so re-signing Rahim Moore is probably the right move given the landscape…Virgil Green can play the role of blocking tight end and won’t cost much to keep….Will Montgomery brings a veteran presence and won’t cost much to keep around for another season.

Free Agents to Let Walk

Julius Thomas is looking for big money and there is really little reason to justify it. While he has been a great touchdown player, his overall numbers are not impressive and he is constantly injured. With the team eventually needing to re-sign Von Miller to a high priced contract, I can’t see allocating premier money into a position like tight end…Terrance Knighton really is not a great fit for the defense they will run in Denver and that relationship seems strained anyway since they refused to rework his contract last season. This is best to be a mutual split….I can understand bringing back Wes Welker is the cost is right, and he won’t get much interest around the league, but I’d be worried about his health and the possibility of having to watch him have his career ended on a hard hit. They will need to replace his snaps if he is released, but they may be able to find a younger option to do that.

Contracts to Modify

I do not believe that there is any reason for the Broncos to be restructuring Manning’s contract or asking him to take a pay cut, but clearly there is something there right now. Recently PFT had a report that they were close on a restructure which sounded as if they were attempting to find a way to spread out the timeframe in which they paid him his salary. Manning has a $21.5 million cap number which can be brought down significantly if they “extend” him and add on some cap holders at the end of the contract…Brandon Marshall should be an exclusive rights player, which means he will be back for pennies on the dollar, so he should be open to a pretty reasonable extension. This might be the time for both sides to make a deal…Von Miller counts for nearly $10 million against the salary cap and working out an extension, more likely after free agency is complete, should make their in season management more workable…It is possible the Broncos could consider releasing Manny Ramirez, but they may be better off guaranteeing a small portion of his salary and in return having him remove a playing time incentive from his contract that currently counts for $1.6 million against the salary cap.

Players to Consider Releasing

Releasing Andre Caldwell saves $1.35 million. He is a bit part of the offense and expendable…Unless there are significant losses along the line I would expect Chris Clark to be released, saving the team $1.4 million against the cap.

Offseason Plan

Manning’s three years in Denver have led to three disappointing finishes, and the most recent one led to the replacement of the coaching staff and talk that maybe Manning’s time in Denver was finished. It is rare to see a team with a Hall of Fame quality quarterback that has won their division three years in a row undergo such a facelift, but that seems to be what is happening in Denver as they retool the defensive schemes and offensive approach.

Last season the team went out and spent in free agency to give Manning the defense he needed to lessen the burden on the veteran quarterback, signing DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, and TJ Ward. But as Manning’s health declined so did the team’s play and the overall impact was minimal. Normally I would expect a team to be gun shy about going back into free agency, but the front office I believe put the blame on the coaching staff making it less of a concern.

Still I would not expect the team to make a major splash in free agency. I think they will look for a cheaper option as replacement for Thomas, perhaps being linked with Owen Daniels as a short term contract while developing a younger player. I would guess they will look for depth along the defensive line and possibly linebacker, where the costs won’t be so high. If the Raiders release Antonio Smith he would be a natural fit in Denver, essentially a swap of Knighton for Smith, who should be very familiar with the team’s new staff. This is a good free agent group of right tackles and I could see that being an option as well.

In the draft it should be all about bringing youth onto the defense and bringing in a young receiver or tight end. The team can’t fal into the trap of getting old chasing a ring and then wake up post Manning with a roster of 30 year olds and no young players with experience to take over. Right now the window for many of the players on the team is an extra two years, at most, of peak performance. This is the time to begin the process of identifying the veterans that you can replace in 2016 and 2017 with younger, cheaper, and better options to help transition the Broncos into the post Manning era.

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