A lot of estimates have been made of what the Broncos cap number will look like this off-season and a lot of predictions and opinions have been made about what the front office will do. I'm going to do my best to break down the cap the long way to find an accurate number as well as give my input on how this cap should be used.
A little background; my name is Eric I've been a member of MHR for over a couple years now and have mostly just dropped by on occasion to read a few articles and get other fan's opinions. I'm a college student, my major is Sports Management. Dealing with cap, roster moves, marketing and financing is what I'm going to school for. My dream job is to work in the Bronco's front office.
On to the cap...
First step, find the cap. Multiple reports have suggested the annual raise will boost the cap to 126,300,000*. Spotrac reports a carry over of 6,573,476. This gives the 2014 Broncos 132,873,476 spending dollars. Another factor to the cap number is adjustments, unfortunately I don't have all the information or know the CBA well enough to calculate these. So for now we shall disregard adjustments, capisce?
So instead of estimating cap by basing it off what we had last year and factoring free agents, dead money, inflation, etc. We're gonna start with the total for 2014 and subtract contract obligations position by position. Not all players will be included, I'm going to leave out practice squad players and the recent signings.
Quarterbacks: This is a very easy position to cover because I foresee no changes at all. Manning is the man, Brock is the young padawan and Dysert is there because Elway likes him.
2014 Cap hits: P. Manning- 17,500,000 B. Osweiler- 959,096 Z. Dysert- 507,050 Total- 18,966,146 Remaining Cap- 113,907,330
Running Backs: The story here is Moreno. Currently he's not on the roster so he's not on the list. Will Ball be able to step up? I'm unsure of this group.
2014 Cap hits: R. Hillman- 807,708 M. Ball- 787,347 C.J. Anderson- 499,166 Total- 2,094,221 Remaining Cap- 111,813,109
Wide Receivers: The big news here is Decker. In other news due to multiple expired contracts this positions is rather barren.
2014 Cap hits: W. Welker- 8,000,000 D. Thomas- 5,031,250 Total- 13,031,250 Remaining Cap- 98,781,859
Tight Ends: We retain all four at this position, but I have a feeling some changes will be made here regardless. Disagree? Maybe you should compare the cap hits below to the production.
2014 Cap hits: J. Tamme- 3,500,000 J. Dreesen- 3,166,668* J. Thomas- 741,000 V. Green- 661,236 Total- 8,068,904 Remaining Cap- 90,712,955
Tackles: We get Clady back from IR, the only player we lose is the stopgap Justice.
2014 Cap hits: R. Clady- 8,600,000 C. Clark- 2,125,666 O. Franklin- 1,386,000 Total- 12,111,666 Remaining Cap- 78,601,289
Guards: Beadles is a FA, and Kuper is overpaid.
2014 Cap hits: L. Vasquez- 7,250,000 C. Kuper- 5,915,166* Total- 13,165,166 Remaining Cap- 65,436,123
Centers: Ramirez played surprisingly well in this position and it'll be his going into camp. Also, he's currently the only Center on the roster.
2014 Cap hits: M. Ramirez- 1,916,666 Remaining Cap- 63,519,457
On to the Defense,
Defensive Tackles: Unrein is an RFA, we'll see if he comes back. Otherwise, I imagine things will remain the same. Our run defense was always strong and DTs managed to pressure the QB from time to time. Vickerson will reportedly be ready for camp and Williams showed progress as the season went on.
2014 Cap hits: T. Knighton- 2,750,000 K. Vickerson- 2,500,000 S. Williams- 1,723,125 S. Fua- 645,000 Total- 7,618,125 Remaining Cap- 55,901,332
Defensive Ends: Denver reportedly will be bringing back Phillips, I'm impartial. Yes, he filled in well and was one of John's value signings, but Von is returning and Phillips is aging. Denver needs to get younger and faster. Also, Smith could possibly end up taking his role. I'd rather resign Ayers than SP.
2014 Cap hits: D. Wolfe- 1,413,380 M. Jackson- 623,403 Q. Smith- 468,000 Total- 2,504,783 Remaining Cap- 53,396,549
Outside Linebackers: Hopefully Von will finally be Von again. Woodyard is a free agent, I've seen mixed thoughts on what the Broncos should do. He's one of my favorite Broncos and think he should return as an OUTside line backer for his leadership and coverage skills.
2014 Cap hits: V. Miller- 6,681,939 D. Trevathan- 596,018 L. McCray- 425,666 Total- 7,703,623 Remaining Cap- 45,692,926
Inside Linebackers: This position looking bleak as always for the Broncos. Maybe this is Irving's year, maybe not, either way this position needs help.
2014 Cap hits: N. Irving- 818,750 S. Johnson- 574,000 Total- 1,392,750 Remaining Cap- 44,300,176
Safety: Adams, Huff, Ihenacho, Jammer all free agents, I say bring back Duke and let the rest go. Carter and Moore will be healthy again, the Safeties should be a lot better off next year.
2014 Cap hits: D. Bruton- 1,650,000 R. Moore- 1,415,313 Q. Carter- 758,750 O. Bolden- 688,607 Total- 4,512,670 Remaining Cap- 39,787,506
Corner Back: DRC, Carter, and Harris are free agents. Harris will be back, I say let Carter go. I would like to see DRC back, if not hopefully they pick up Verner for similar money.
2014 Cap hits: C. Bailey- 10,000,000* K. Webster- 641,950 Total- 10,641,950 Remaining Cap- 29,145,556
Special Teams: Holliday is a free agent and it should stay that way, I have an anxiety attack every time he decides to bring one out. Prater is a solid kicker, as for Colquitt, I think he's overpaid, but the amount of dead money the Broncos would incur makes cutting him not worth it.
2014 Cap hits: M. Prater- 3,812,500 B. Colquitt- 3,250,000 Total- 7,062,500 Remaining Cap- 22,083,056
So the Broncos have $22,083,056 of spending money? Nope! We're not done yet. Lets save some money, I think most of you are aware of a few Broncos that get more than their fair share and we're gonna make it right.
Both Tamme and Dreesen have been brought up in discussion about being released. If both were released the Broncos would save $6,666,668 in cap room and incur a combined cap penalty of $1,166,668. I am all in on releasing Dreesen, but not so sure if the Broncos would release both. Tamme was more productive this year and has that chemistry with Peyton. The Broncos just signed Robinson again and he would be an ideal replacement for Tamme so we'll see. Another player commonly brought up in talks of saving cap room, Chris Kuper. Releasing Kuper would free $5,915,166 in cap room, to me this is a no-brainer. Finally, Champ Bailey, due $10,000,000. A lot of mixed feelings on what to do with Champ out there. Champ is a Bronco, he will be one next year, but not at that price. This situation is comparable to that of Charles Woodson recently. The Packers were having cap issues and Charles was due near ten million, he was released and signed with Oakland for a deal with max potential of 4.3 million. The deal only ended up counting for 1.8 million against Oakland's cap. I feel Champ will get a similar deal, an incentive-laden deal with a floor of 2.0 and a ceiling of 3.5.
Summary: We cut Dreesen and Kuper, Tamme stays and we win it all so Champ's deal sees full potential at 3.5 million.
Total Cap Savings- 15,581,834 Current Cap- 37,664,890
Now, lets get dead money out of the way. The Broncos already have $1,137,329 in dead money due to the likes of McGahee, Mays, Blake, King etc. But, we just added to that number by cutting Dreesen and Kuper. Dreesen's hit is $666,668 and Kuper's is $1,830,332. This brings the dead money total to $3,634,329.
Dead Money Total- 3,634,329 Current Cap- 34,030,561
Now lets move on to the draft. I've always thought the 31st pick is the worst in the draft. The only team behind you is the Superbowl winner and all the teams in front of you have a better shot picking the player they want. Hopefully Elway and friends can shake their drafting woes and make due with pick 31. Last year the 49ers lost the Superbowl so we'll pick from the same position they did, had they not traded any of their picks. The following is a list of the cap hits associated with San Francisco's picks from last years draft.
31. 1,249,096 61. 616,802 93. 535,300 128. 502,875 164. 445,700 199. 427,750 246. 409,592 (Pick 244(Picks 246,245 not listed))
Total- 4,187,115. I'll round up to 4.2 million to be safe. Current Cap- 29,830,561
Don't forget practice squad. Last year the Broncos spent $816,000 on the practice squad.
Current Cap- 29,014,561
*EDIT- Current speculation suggests the cap will be 4 million more than anticipated. So in my theoretical scenario we're up to slightly over 33 million.
So that's 36 players on the roster and 7 fresh rookies. 43 of 53 players and a little over 33 million to spend.
So where to spend it? Well lets break down the the roster.
Quarterback- No changes necessary.
Running Back- Something tells me Moreno isn't coming back and they want Ball to be the number one guy. If this is true maybe they'll bring in a vet for depth because nobody trusts Ronnie. Knowing John Fox he'll just probably draft another.
Wide Receiver- We Currently have two. Unless Decker accepts a contract in Denver for far less than what I'm sure some other teams will offer, I think his days in Denver are done. I also think we should let Caldwell go. Elway loves him a bargain and I think one could come in Hakeem Nicks. His off season value is projected to fall due to previous injuries, maybe he can get healthy and be even better than Decker for less money. That gives us three, I think the fourth spot should be given to a draft pick. One with speed that can be our KR/PR and a reliable receiver. With four spots full maybe a fifth makes the roster, someone cheap with potential, possibly one of the receivers already on the roster (Norwood, Palmer, Wilson.)
Tight End- With Thomas, Tamme, and Green here I think we're set. We may sign one more player, the fourth spot might just go to Gerrell Robinson. A very inexpensive fill, and who knows, maybe Denver has been developing him like they did with Julius.
Tackle- I think this position is good to go as well. Clady is returning and Franklin is a very good RT. Clark proved he is a very serviceable back up. We also have Painter and Ryan Miller who both pull less than 500k a piece.
Guard- With Kuper being cut and Beadles a free agent, we are left with just Vasquez. People have been throwing around the idea of moving Clark to RT and Franklin to RG. I like this idea, it would give us a front of Clady, Vasquez, Ramirez, Franklin, Clark. I think this line would fare better than this years and we wouldn't need to invest high dollars into Beadles or another FA. Draft picks should be used here for depth.
Center- Ramirez, for being the third or fourth option he played very well. But, we should remember he was probably that far down the list for a reason. I wouldn't mind us using a mid to high draft pick here for depth and the future.
Defensive Tackle- I don't think much needs to change here. Pot Roast is a beast, Vickerson plays very well, and Williamson is improving. I would like to see Knighton and Williamson as the starters here with Vickerson, Fua, and maybe one more rotating in.
Defensive End- I would like to see big money spent here. If Greg Hardy gets away from the Panthers I would be all for 8-10 million of our cap headed his way. On running downs he could play right end with Wolfe at left. On passing downs Wolfe and/or Jackson move inside, Von comes in from the right an Hardy from the left. Right ends would be Smith and Hardy, Left ends would be Wolfe and Jackson.
Outside Linebacker- We have Miller and Trevathan as starters. I think we should give Woodyard 2-3 million for depth and pass coverage. We also have McCray, although I'm not sure if he plays more outside or inside.
Inside Linebacker- Irving and Johnson are two players I like, but I'm not sure if either are starters. In the free agent pool I like Donald Butler from San Diego. We also could use a high draft pick on a potential starting MLB.
Safety- With Bailey coming back another year, I think he moves to free safety and Rahim moves to strong safety. If we bring back Duke this gives us six safeties though (Champ, Moore, Bruton, Carter, Ihenacho, Bolden.) I think we should move Bolden back to corner and keep five safeties.
Corner- With Bailey switched to safety and Bolden back to corner we are left with Webster and Omar at corner. DRC should be brought back for about 7 mil and Harris needs to be matched for whatever is offered. We should also use draft picks to fill this position out.
Special teams- Prater and Colquitt will stay. We should not use a roster position on a player that is just a kick returner.
I'm not gonna pick the order, but I think our draft picks should be used on some of the following.
1. Interior linemen. Guard and a center, possibly another tackle if Franklin moves inside.
2. A receiver with speed and return skills that does not fumble.
3. A 3 down middle linebacker if we don't pick one up in free agency
4. An aggressive style corner
5. Possibly another Running back
6. A DT to replace Fua and Unrein
7. An OLB if we don't resign Woodyard.
So if it was my choice that near 33+ million would be spent accordingly divvied up amongst
Hakeem Nicks- I'm not sure how to estimate his value, last year Amendola received a contract that averages 5.7. I think Nicks could be signed on a 'prove-it' deal for less than that. I'd estimate 4 million for one year. Another option- Decker, Maclin, Britt.
Greg Hardy- Last year Cliff Avril was the number one DE and he fetched a 2 year contrat from Seattle averaging 6.5 a year. Hardy is better than Avril and will demand more. Before that Mario Williams landed a monster deal averaging 16 a year. I think Hardy will find a deal somewhere in between, unfortunately probably too expensive for the Broncos. Hardy is one of those dream FA signings I get my heart set on each year that almost never happen. Another option- Michael Johnson.
Robert Ayers- I would like to see Ayers back, at a comparable price, a contract averaging 2.5 a year. Of course if we somehow landed Hardy, Ayers can walk.
Donald Butler- Curtis Lofton signed a deal with the Saints averaging 5.5 a year. Lofton is higher value than Butler. I think Butler could land a 4 million a year contract. Seems like SD has every intention of holding onto him though.
Wesley Woodyard- I also would like to see Woodyard back, on a contract averaging 2.5 again.
Duke Ihenacho- I think everyone wants him to stay on the team. His value? I'm not sure maybe 2.0 a year.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie- We need him back. If not him another high value corner. I've seen a lot of people throw out ten million a year. I don't think he's worth that much I think he can be retained for 7 a year. Another option- Alterraun Verner.
Chris Harris- Last year Sean Smith earned a contract worth 5.5 a year, I think Harris has earned a similar contract, but he's an RFA and will likely receive a cheaper tender.
We can't afford all these players, but its the general direction I would like to see the front office go. So with about 29 million to spend, and a lot of gaps to fill what would you like to see the front office do?