With the 2009 season well underway, the BYE week provides us with some time to reflect on the first 6 weeks on the season, but also to look forward to the end of the season. The Broncos are looking stronger each week, and if they keep their momentum and playing level up, we (as optimists right?) could see them going for a long play-off run.
But there is reason to look beyond the play offs. I recently started to think about our free agents next year, because we have a lot of quality players coming to the end of their contract. In this fanpost I assume that a CBA will get done, because I am remaining hopeful that it will. If it doesn't, then this topic will still be important, it will just extend the contracts with 1 year of restricted free agency.
After listening to the MHR Radio podcast, it became clear that more people are having questions about the free agency period in 2010. If a CBA is in place, the remaining players of the (great) draft of 2006 will become free agents.
For those of you who don't remember, this was our draft class of 2006:
- Round 1, pick 11: Jay Cutler
- Round 2, pick 29: Tony Scheffler
- Round 4, Pick 22: Brandon Marshall
- Round 4, Pick 29: Elvis Dumervil
- Round 4, Pick 33: Domenik Hixon
- Round 5, Pick 28: Chris Kuper
- Round 6, Pick 29: Greg Eslinger
As you can see, we have Elvis Dumervil, Brandon Marshall, Tony Scheffler, and ofcourse, who didnt get mentioned during MHR Radio, Chris Kuper. Add to that Kyle Orton who came from Chicago this summer, and you see there is a lot of players waiting to get paid.
All these players are currently on their rookie deal, which, especially for Elvis, Chris and Brandon, is a contract value that is far below their production level. With all of them outstanding players, they will command a lot more money, making it unlikely that we can resign all of them. Lets take a look at each player:
Pat Bowlen recently said that Marshall was playing himself into a better deal by his on the field performance, after holding out in the offseason. Marshall has established himself as a one of the best receivers in the NFL since joining the league 4 years ago.
Marshall: 255 receptions - 3231 yds - 19 TDs - 167 receptions for First Down.
White: 257 receptions - 3921 yds - 20 TDs - 171 receptions for First Down.
White held out this offseason, and the Falcons gave him a 6 year extension, worth 50 million dollars, with 18,5 million guaranteed. Marshall will most likely be looking for a similar deal.
Upside of resigning: Marshall is a great receiving threat against any defense. He often draws double coverage, and is good aquireing yards after the catch.
Downside of resigning: Being one of the best WRs in the league will make Marshall demand a lot of money. For a lot of people, his off-field issues and his health are still a cause for concern. Do you want to spend such a large sum of capmoney on a player with such risks, while you have a large group of others that need to get paid as well?
Elvis is currently leading the league in sacks, and if he continues on this pace, he will break the single season record for most sacks in one season. Interesting bit by the Denver Post:
The No. 1 pick in the 2006 draft was defensive end Mario Williams.
Houston gave him a six-year contract worth $54 million. To date,
Williams has 32.5 sacks in 52 games.
Way back in the fourth round of the same draft, with the No. 126
overall pick, Dumervil was selected. The Broncos gave Dumervil a four-
year deal worth $2 million. He has 34 sacks in 49 games.
Thus, Dumervil has nearly two more sacks in three fewer games for $52
million less than the pass rusher drafted 125 picks ahead of him.
Dumervil has been compared to the Colts' Dwight Freeney although he is a little smaller. 2 years ago, Freeney signed a six year, 72 million dollar extension with 30 million dollar guaranteed. Terrell Suggs, another OLB/DE received a 6 year, 63 million dollar deal, with 33 million guaranteed. Though Dumervil's deal might be worth a little less than those, the number should come pretty close.
Upside of resigning: Dumervil has shown to be an excellent fit for the 3-4 system that Nolan is running. He leads the league in sacks and is doing good when asked to drop in coverage. He is an important part in the defensive success of the Broncos
Downside of resigning: The Broncos drafted Robert Ayers in the first round of the 2009 draft. Robert, although a little behind because of coming into training camp late, is catching on well and looks better each game. He plays the same position as Dumervil, and has a large 1st round contract. If Dumervil would be resigned, a large part of the Broncos' cap room is stuck in just 1 position, the OLB spot.
Tony Scheffler is arguably one of the best receiving tight ends in the NFL, and has been improving his blocking skills. He causes missmatches for almost any defense. With Daniel Graham and Richard Quinn, he is part of arguably the best Tight End group in the NFL.
Tony's carreer numbers 123 receptions for 1697 yards and 19 Touchdowns. Looking at a contract extension, Scheffler would probably look for an offer a little less than Pittsburgs Heath Miller (184 rec - 2043 yards - 21 TDs), who received a six year extension this summer, worth 35 million dollars, with 12,5 million guaranteed.
Upside of resigning Scheffler is a great weapon in the offense and has shown to be a good blocker as well lately. Like mentioned many times during the San Diego game, he creates mismatches. He has great hands and Orton has started to look more often to him in recent weeks, because he is hard to cover.
Downside of resigning It seems that, with a WR and a TE looking for a new contract, a choice will have to be made between both. The Broncos also still have Graham, who has quite a large contract as well. It doesnt seem wise to spend a large part of the cap money on one of the less important positions on the team (dont get me wrong. Not saying TE's are not important, but compared to QBs, RBs, LTs, CBs etc).
Though drafted in 2006, he only played one game in that season, and midway during the 2007 season he earned a starting spot at Right Guard. He has quietly played himself a star on the best offensive line in football (we all agree on that right ;)?). Though selected in the 5th round, he's one of the best young guards in the NFL at age 26.
A year ago, right guard Chris Snee was signed by the Giants for a 6 year extension, worth 41.25 million dollars with 17 million guaranteed. Though Im not sure if their numbers are equal (in sacks given up and such), Kuper is a young talent and a solid part of our great offensive line.
Upside of resigning: With Wiegmann and Hamilton aging, we need to make sure we keep the core together with Harris, Clady and Kuper.
Downside: Post a comment if you can think of one ;)
Last but definately not least. Kyle has shown every week that he gets more comfortable in the system. He is careful with the ball, has great work ethic and is a team player.
It's easy to say that Kyle has outperformed Cutler so far, and Cutler received a new deal 2 days ago, a 2 year extension worth 30 million dollars. Kyle is only 26, so it seems likely he will be locked up with a new deal at the end of the season. It is hard to say for how long, but like Guru pointed out, it's probably easily a 10 million dollars per year deal, especially if we make it to the play-offs this year.
Upside: Good QB who's improving in the system each week. Can stay healthy behind our O-line, and should be a solid QB for the next few years.
Downside: Large cap hit, maybe McD is grooming Brandstater to be ready to take over? (I don't think so, but i'm just listing the options).
Winning is everything
What can happen if we do very well this year, is that some of the players are willing to take a less amount of money because they are in a winning environment, something that you have seen happen to players of the Patriots. If that's the case, it could be very well possible that we keep 3 or 4 of these players.
I hope this post provides some food for debate about who to keep. I now Guru asked everyone to make a list of players, maybe this fanpost can provide a discussion point about this topic.
On a sidenote, Barrett and Prater will be restricted free agents in case of a CBA
PS: I have kept my own opinion out of this as much as possible, hoping to provide facts which everyone can use in the discussion. I personally think with Ayers already at OLB, the Broncos cant resign Doom (sad sad sad). I think Orton will be resigned, and if Marshall get's a deal, Scheffler will be let go. So my list of 3 is Orton, Kuper, Marshall, but maybe Scheffler will be able to stay as well, depending on the size of the contracts for everyone.
If I have missed any important thing, fact, stat, etc, please comment so I can change my post.