As most of you know, I am a bit of a salary cap junkie. As I was doing my latest batch of updates, I was noticing which players contracts ended after 2008 and 2009. It is difficult to look too far ahead due to potential labor issues making 2010 both an uncapped year, and potentially the last year before a lockout by the owners. This would change how much teams are willing and able to spend on free agents over the next couple of years. But it seems to me that Denver has quite a few "core" players whose contracts will be up in the next couple years.
2008 will hit the defense a bit harder than the offense. There are a decent number of free agents, but only one is a crucial starters who are irreplaceable. And that player is Tom Nalen. Offensively, other free agents will be backups like Mike Bell, Andre Hall, Chad Mustard and Patrick Ramsey. Also Erik Pears becomes a RFA. On defense, pretty much the entire secondary will be in flux. The only decent players under contract for 2009 are Champ, Dre and Manuel Marquand. We all assume Lynch will retire, but we will still have a decent secondary of free agents - Paymah and Foxworth, Abdullah and McCree. This looks like the crucial test for next offseason (assuming no trades or extensions are given during the year)
It is 2009 that is gonna be ugly, especially on the offensive side of the board. Here is a partial list: B Marshall, G Martinez, T Scheffler, N Jackson, B Hamilton, M Holland, C Kuper, Dumervil, DJ Williams, J Winborn and Leach. Assuming Nalen does not return after 2008, that would be our starting center and both guards who would be FA as well as most of Cutler's key receiving weapons. The team seems better prepared to handle the defensive losses. I would hate to lose DJ, but if Boss and Niko work out DJ could be expendable. Same thing for Elvis. If Moss and Crowder develop into solid starters, the loss of a pass rush specialist won't be as bad.
Probably the most worrisome part of 2009 is that it is a lot of young guys coming off their rookie contracts who will be looking to get sizeable increases - Marshall, DJ, Dumervil, Scheffler, and even Kuper and potentially Glenn Martinez if he hangs around.
I don't have much to add or any conclusions to reach. Just some info that I would throw out there as we look at what Denver did to reload this year and what options are still available. Does this make Denver more interested in a player like Dewayne Robertson who will cost a lot in 2008 and 2009 but who will come off the books afterwards and would free up cap space to resign other players? How much will it affect their draft strategy? Will they pick a CB in the later rounds because they know they can't keep both Foxworth and Paymah?