DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 18: The crowd joins in as the Bronocs celebrate the touchdown by Willis McGahee #23 of the Denver Broncos in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Bengals 24-22. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
A comment after the game piqued my interest. Apparently the announcers for the game had mentioned that half of Denver's 2011 salaries were benched due to injury for the game, which made the already impressive effort even more endearing.
Even though I doubted it was truly half the salary, I didn't doubt that it would be a lot of money sitting on the bench. Doom is the highest paid player on the team, Champ just got a new contract and Ty Warren was our biggest free agent signing of the offseason.
Below I have worked out the total "cost" of the injuries in terms of both cap space and cash in week 2. Follow along after the jump...
Top Ten Salaries by Cap Number
The above table shows which contracts make up the top ten overall cap hits in 2011. All told these 10 players, less than a fifth of the total roster account for 57% of total cap space available to Denver. In week 2, four of them were on the bench cheering. Doom, Champ, Williams and Warren represent a cost of over $30million, or 25% of the cap.
Top Ten Salaries by Cash Number
Of far more relevance this season however, due to cash accounting rules that require a leaguewide spending of 99% of the cap in actual cash dollars, is the amount of cash that the Broncos have spent in 2011. By the table above we can see that outside of reordering the players in the top ten, it is still the same players and the same contracts. Only now they account for 67% of the total cash Denver has spent in 2011 (and Denver is very near the 99% minimum requirement). This time the four injured stars represent $34mil of the total, almost 30% of total expenditures in only 4 players.
Week 2 Injuries/Cap Number
|% of Cap||31%|
Returning to the cap for a moment, we can see that outside of the top four players, the monetary loss isn't significantly changed. All told, $36mil in resources wasn't able to come through for a week.
Week 2 Injuries/Cash Number
|% of Cash||34%|
Again, Cash is the more accurate number to be using in 2011 in terms of the Broncos' contract strategy, and we see again that adding the 6 additional injured players, adds only 4% in additional spending.
Bottom line is that losing a star player is never easy, and losing 4 of them compounds the problem significantly. And when that bottom line is viewed up close, it is clear that waste can start to pile up quickly in a short NFL season. Part of the story behind the story for Denver's rebuild is that they are building a structure that will make acquiring talent in the future easier, whether that is grabbing a key vet or two, but especially for resigning our own home grown stars as they develop. Spending resources on production is the upward beating heart in all the offseason anarchy and confusion, and we can't lose sight of how much production it actually ends up purchasing in the end.
[Editor's Note: Marcus Thomas' number quoted above represents his Paragraph 5 salary, and does not include a signing bonus, which is undisclosed as of this time. Any signing bonus he likely received would have no significant impact on any of the cap numbers listed above, but would count in full towards the cash numbers. I expect that if he was paid a signing bonus, it was in the range of $1mil. Also, Willis McGahee's contract would possibly place his numbers in the top ten for consideration, but it is undisclosed at this time. However, it would likely swap out at the bottom of the list at around $2mil against cap, so the numbers above wouldn't change much if at all.--Styg]