A former sports agent, Joel Corry, analyzed how each team in the NFL structures its deals with their players. The story evolved from the fallout of the Colin Kaepernick deal that looked huge, but really wasn't all that big of a commitment from where the San Francisco 49ers were sitting.
Let's take a look at how John Elway and the Denver Broncos structured their deal with Aqib Talib this offseason.
The Broncos primarily structure their most lucrative contracts with modest signing bonuses, a first-year roster bonus a few days after signing and salary guarantees in the early years of the deals. Most of the guarantees after the first year of a contract are conditional guarantees that allow the Broncos to exit these deals without adverse cap consequences. Aqib Talib's six-year, $57 million contract containing a $5 million signing is a prime example. Since only $11.5 million of his $25.5 million in guarantees is fully guaranteed at signing (all in 2014) the Broncos can release Talib before the third day of the 2015 league year when his 2015 base salary becomes fully guaranteed if he is a disappointment or the off-the-field issues that plagued him in Tampa Bay reoccur. There would be $4 million in dead money (a charge for a player no longer on the roster) but the Broncos would gain $3 million in cap space despite paying Talib $12 million for just one season in Denver.
Many of you remember the salary cap hell that was the Mike Shanahan way, but that is decidedly not how Elway wants to do business. The Broncos are fully committed to Talib for 2014, but would suffer very little to cut ties with him if he absolutely needed to go after a potential disastrous season on his end. Everything is designed to protect the long term health of the franchise. As a fan, I love this.
What about the Broncos division rivals?
It appears the Kansas City Chiefs pursue the old Mike Shanahan way of player-friendly deals that contain signing bonuses, a fully guaranteed first year and lucrative base salary in years two and three. That style tends to produce less salary cap friendly results over the long term if not managed well, so let's hope Andy Reid and John Dorsey mismanage that heck out of that.
The San Diego Chargers use a similar methodology for their player signings, but that franchise has a history of not being a well managed club. Once Philip Rivers retires or moves on, this team will collapse.
The surprise for me was the Oakland Raiders. They used to be the poster child for mismanagement and offering horrendous deals to players. Aging veterans would use Al Davis as a way for one final huge paycheck before bouncing out of the league. However, Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders general manager, has pursued a pay-as-you-go policy towards free agency, which really is the best policy for the kind of salary disaster he inherited a few years ago.
Be careful Broncos fans, in five years we could be seeing a resurgence of the silver and black in the AFC West. I actually look forward to it. It's always fun to have the Raiders in the mix, except when they end up with the better record anyway!
How good of a job do you think Elway has done running the Broncos?