Broncos State of the Roster: Cornerback

The shadows of champions will loom large over the Broncos 2014 cornerbacks. - Justin Edmonds

In this fourth part of our "Be the Broncos GM" series, we take a look at the cornerback position, and Denver's State of the Roster. How did Broncos cornerbacks perform in 2013? Who is under contract in 2014?

2014 Roster: Champ Bailey, Omar Bolden, Tony Carter*, Chris Harris Jr.*, Jerome Murphy and Kayvon Webster.

2014 Broncos Free Agents: Marquice Cole, Quentin Jammer and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

*Restricted Free Agent

Player Base Salary Signing Bonus Other Bonus Dead Money Cap Figure
Champ Bailey 9,000,000 - 1,000,000 - 10,000,000
Omar Bolden 570,000 118,607 - -237,214 688,607
Jerome Murphy 645,000 - - - 645,000
Kayvon Webster 507,000 134,950 - -404,850 641,950

2014 Cornerback Cap Hit: $12,620,557, not including the approximately $2 million it will cost to tender Chris Harris Jr.

Projected 2014 Cap Space: Between $1.8 and $15 million

Injury was the keyword in the 2013 season, whether it was Champ Bailey being gone for nearly all of the season, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie missing the second half of an unprecedented New England Patriots comeback game or Chris Harris Jr. going down during the divisional playoff game against the San Diego Chargers. At no point during the season was the unit functioning as a whole. The Denver Broncos started Champ Bailey, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Chris Harris Jr., Kayvon Webster, Quentin Jammer, and Tony Carter at cornerback at different points during the season. Harris, Webster and Carter are all but sure things to be back, but Bailey and Rodgers-Cromartie remain in limbo.

Starters

Chris Harris Jr. is not much of a secret around these parts, and you'd be hard pressed to find an actual Denver fan that didn't think that he was the next coming of well, Champ Bailey. Harris proved no different last season. He remained one of the league's top players despite not being recognized as such in the Pro Bowl. In fact, Harris may have done so well last season that he made Bailey expendable on this roster and left the biggest debate whether Harris should receive a first or second round tender. Just about the only thing that he can't do in coverage is cover both the left and the right side at the same time.

This is where Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie comes into play. The Broncos made a very heads up draft pick - despite critical condemnation - in nabbing Kayvon Webster, but Rodgers-Cromartie was the man the whole season. Now the debate must ensue as to whether Rodgers-Cromartie is worth the $10-million in 2014 that Bailey is due. DRC isn't likely to offer any home town discount; he probably even drove his asking price up by debating whether to retire or not following the Super Bowl.

Then there is Bailey, of course, the second-highest paid player on the roster. It is very easy to say that Champ will renegotiate, but I wouldn't expect him to. Throughout his career, Bailey has honored his contract; he has mentioned his contract specifically at what I can only imagine have been very difficult times to remain on the roster. If the Broncos are going to be successful in renegotiating his deal, I would expect it to be in the next two weeks. Fans can only hope that Bailey renegotiates and rewards the fact that he was predominantly unable to contribute much last season.

Depth

Webster is a solid backup and will only get better; hopefully that is under the tutelage of guys like Bailey and DRC, but neither of them are guaranteed to be on the team next season. This is how disaster is spelled... Tony Carter, who will return next season, was given the takeover nod by Harris himself for the playoffs, but Carter has yet to show up as required throughout his career. This brings us to Omar Bolden, who despite being touted as a cornerback by John Elway last offseason has failed to premiere as such since.

The great news is that cornerback is arguably the deepest position in the 2014 NFL Draft, and there is also no shortage of free agent talent available at the position. Denver could save themselves a lot of heartache next season by just re-signing and readjusting their own homegrown talent, but they have options this offseason. We will be back later today to break down those options as Be the Broncos GM continues.

In the meantime, what's a higher priority, renegotiating Champ, or re-signing DRC?

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