2014 Denver Broncos Free Agency: Breaking down the big name contracts

Ezra Shaw

Now that all the information has been released in regards to the contracts issued to DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, and TJ Ward, just what implications do the numbers have next year and beyond?

*All figures courtesy of Over The Cap Dot Com

TJ Ward

Year

Base

Signing Bonus

Roster Bonus

Cap Number

Dead Money

Cap Savings

2014

2.0

1.25

-

3.25

7.0

Lose 3.75

2015

4.0

1.25

2.5

7.75

3.75

4.00

2016

4.5

1.25

-

5.75

2.5

3.25

2017

4.5

1.25

-

5.75

1.25

4.5

* All amounts in millions

- Signing Bonus 5.0, Roster Bonus 2.5

- 2015 base guaranteed for injury, becomes guaranteed on 5th day of league year.

Aqib Talib

Year

Base

Signing Bonus

Roster Bonus

Cap Number

Dead Money

Cap Savings

2014

4.5

1.0

2.4

7.9

11.5

Lose 3.6

2015

5.5

1.0

.50

7.0

4.0

3.0

2016

8.5

1.0

.50

10.0

3.0

7.0

2017

11.0

1.0

.50

12.0

1.0

11.0

2018

11.0

1.0

-

8.0

-

8.0

2019

8.0

-

-

8.0

-

8.0

- 11.5 fully guaranteed (5 million signing bonus, 2 million roster bonus (2014), 4.5 million base salary in 2014)

- 2015 base guaranteed for injury, becomes guaranteed on 5th day of league year

DeMarcus Ware

Year

Base

Signing Bonus

Roster Bonus

Cap Number

Dead Money

Cap Savings

2014

3.0

1.67

5.0

9.67

16.5

Lose 6.8

2015

7.0

1.67

3.0

11.67

6.8

4.8

2016

7.0

1.679

-

8.67

1.67

7.0

- 16.5 fully guaranteed (5 million signing bonus, 3 million base salary in 2014, 3.5 million base salary in 2015)

Implications for 2014

Taking everything at face value, the Broncos have about 20.82 million tied up to Ward, Ware, and Talib against  the salary cap in 2014.  Ward's contract is the most team friendly this year with 3.25 million counting against the cap.

I thought the Broncos guaranteed close to 60 million with these three contracts?

No.  This idea was lazy surface reporting by the MSM.  Not all guarantees are created equally.

The Elway regime has learned to allocate guaranteed money in different ways that keep the Broncos from getting into cap hell.  Signing bonuses are prorated throughout the life of the contract meaning they have the most negative impact as that money is paid out and counted against the cap no matter how the player pans out.  For example, if you gave a player a 4-year deal worth 30 million with 16 million guaranteed, four million per season would appear in the contract whether he player played out the terms or not.  Dude could be gone after year two and you'd still have dead money on the books to the tune of 4 million per season.  This is "dead money."

Looking closer, the Broncos fully guaranteed only about 35 million to these players

- Ward is guaranteed his 7 million (2014 base 2 million + prorated 5.0 million signing bonus).

- Talib is guaranteed 11.5 million (2014 2 million roster bonus, prorated 5.0 million signing bonus, and 4.5 million in 2014 base salary.  He can be cut after year 1 with only a 4 million dollar loss to the cap.  He can also earn 500K in extra incentives with games played (injury incentive).

- Ware is guaranteed 16.5 million (2014 3 million base salary, 5 million signing bonus, 5 million roster bonus, 2015 4.5 million base salary).  Realistically this is a two-year deal with a club option for a third (when his cap number will be about 1.7 million).

Back to the guarantees, if they are in the form of roster bonuses they only impact that season. A favorite tactic of John Elway is to offer small signing bonuses bolstered with roster bonuses in the early years.  This makes a player easier to cut down the road if their production drops.  By using different ways to pay players their guaranteed money, it keeps the Broncos rolling one year to the next without the threat of cap of hell.

What about 2015 and beyond?

With these new contracts The Broncos will have 27 players and about 96.6 million in payroll heading into 2015.  With the cap expected to be at about 145 million, the Broncos should not have issues signing/resigning players.  After that, heading into 2016 you're going into a situation where most of the current roster will be off the books.

All in?

When you're all in it means you've bet everything in front of you.  Elway and the Broncos FO may have been aggressive in collecting defensive talent throughout free agency but that's what competitors do--they do their best to win.  The Broncos are certainly built to win now, but they are also set up to succeed in the future.

You have yet to see "All-in" from Elway and the Broncos, and that is a very scary thought.

GO BRONCOS!!!

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