Candidates for Broncos Salary Cap Relief
Teams with the least amount of salary cap space, per NFLPA – Broncos ($1.60 M), Jets ($2.44 M), Steelers ($2.47… https://t.co/uqA0u4zunZ
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 30, 2016
It’s likely, inside the Broncos organization, they have this situation quite under control. On the outside, fans can see the Broncos as dead last in the NFL in salary cap room and wonder where the money will come from when the team needs roughly $6.3 million for their rookie pool. Or where the salary cap room will come from if the Broncos wanted to sign another quarterback to compete in training camp. The Broncos currently have around $1.6 million in cap space according to the NFLPA and once they sign their rookie pool, will be over the cap by about $3.7 million. Despite some of the absurd ideas on trading or restructuring WR Demaryius Thomas, there are a couple of players with big contracts the team is definitely looking at for cap relief. Let’s take a look at the top two candidates:
First up, OT Ryan Clady. The former first round selection by the Broncos in 2008 is simply not the player he once was. Clady missed the last two appearances by the Broncos in the Super Bowl with a Lisfranc injury in 2013, ending his season prematurely, and last year, during OTAs, he tore his ACL. Clady is also the third highest paid player on the Broncos. Here is a look at his current contract (via overthecap.com):
As you can see, he is due $10.1 million this year and with the addition of veteran OT Russell Okung during free agency, there will be no way Ryan Clady remains at this contract (or likely on this team). It’s unfortunate that Clady’s career has been so derailed by injuries but this is how the NFL works. Ryan said he was willing to restructure his contract to remain on this team, however, the two sides haven’t been able to come to an agreement and, in typical Elway fashion, if a player isn’t willing to meet him at the contract level he wants, he will sign someone else (enter: Russell Okung). Ryan Clady could be a piece the Broncos use on draft night to move into a better position or possibly acquire 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick (who would also need to restructure). The point is, the Broncos WILL receive cap relief, one way or another, via Clady’s contract. Bank on it.
— Jason Cole (@JasonColeBR) March 31, 2016
The other player that should be discussed comes in right behind Clady in cap hit, fourth overall, and that is CB Aqib Talib. According to Mark Schlereth, his name has come up in trade talks down at Dove Valley. “I’ve heard a lot of whispers behind the scenes about Aqib Talib,” said Schlereth. “I know people have been snooping around asking about [him].” Let’s take a look at his contract (via overthecap.com):
Aqib Talib won’t be cut, but he could be in consideration for a restructure or possibly a trade. Talib has been in the league for nine seasons and is 30 years old. He still plays at a high level but a cornerback can fall from elite to average in the span of a couple of years, if not faster in some cases. He is on the back end of his career so it makes it a little difficult on a restructure to add years to his contract in order to help the cap this season. If the Broncos can’t trade him, it’s possible they try to give him a contract with incentives. It’s a delicate situation because Aqib, despite some bone-headed penalties, has only missed two games (one because of suspension) since he’s come to Denver and was a key part to one of the best defensive performances in Super Bowl history. John Elway will probably tread lightly with Aqib on a restructure if the Broncos can’t find a trade partner but, if push comes to shove, the team has confidence in their starting CB depth of Chris Harris and Bradley Roby.
Ryan Clady and Aqib Talib don’t represent the only players the Broncos are considering for restructure or trade but seem to be the most obvious, given the current value of their contracts. Clady was already set for restructure but his value changed significantly with addition of OT Russell Okung during free agency. Talib’s contract value is based on the relative depth at CB and his age. The Broncos need to make some tough decisions in regards to their salary cap in the next month or so in order to afford their rookie pool as well as potentially another free agent QB to compete during camp. Fans should prepare for more changes on the horizon for this Super Bowl roster.
TOP PHOTO CREDIT: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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