An Early Look at the Broncos' 2016 Cap Situation

There has already been a lot of discussion of the Broncos' 2016 cap situation in a number of the threads, and I've seen a lot of misconceptions. This has led to me making the decision to bite the bullet and put together this fanpost. If it accomplishes nothing else, it will at least put the best currently available numbers and projections I can find or calculate in one easy to find virtual location for me for future discussions. I will be rounding numbers to make any calculations easier and faster since I'm using projections, and only trying to come up with ballpark figures, not absolutes.

Spotrac currently show the Broncos with about $12.9M in 2016 top 51 cap space. That is based on the assumption that the 2016 NFL cap will be set at $154M, and it includes about $3.5M in rollover of unused 2015 cap space. It also accounts for about $0.9M in current 2016 dead money, It does not include a negative $4M adjustment in the form of the incentive bonus going to PFM for the Broncos winning the AFCCG and Super Bowl. So our actual current top 51 cap space is in the ballpark of $8.9M without considering other possible positive or negative adjustments to come. We also currently have 49 players signed and counting against the 2016 top 51 cap, NOT 51. At this point I'm going to go ahead and assume that Manning's retirement or release is inevitable so I won't have to work negative numbers in a bit. and add the resulting $19M to our $8.9M giving us $27.9 in 2016 top 51 cap space.

Next order of business: the projected price of 2016 non-exclusive franchise tags using this source:

QB::$19.7M. The Broncos aren't going to pay Brock that much.

DE: $15.4M. The Broncos aren't going to pay Malik that much.

LB: $14.1M. The Broncos ARE going to pay Von significantly more than that on a long term deal.

Regarding Von, the franchise tag at a projected price of $14.1M looks almost inevitable to me, and will buy the Broncos both time and leverage in negotiations for a long term deal. I see the absolute floor of that deal as being the $16.8M OLB Justin Houston ended up getting from the Chefs when he was franchised last year. Darned Chefs! One more reason for us to hate them,as if we didn't have enough other reasons already. I anticipate that Von will end up being signed to a long term deal in the neighborhood of $17-18M average per year. Never underestimate the leverage power of the franchise tag unless you have the absolutely craptastic cap situation of the 2015 KC Chefs when they franchised Justin Houston and set the market for franchised LBs. So now I'm going to subtract the $14.1M for Von's franchise tag from our $27.9M leaving us with $13.8M in 2016 top 51 cap space.

I'm estimating the Broncos will only need about $3M in top 51 cap space in cap space to sign their draft picks since they are picking last in each of the first 2 rounds barring trading up. Only the Broncos' first and second round picks are likely to have 2016 cap hits in the top 51. When I add together the 2015 cap hits for Shane Ray (1st round pick) and Ty Sambrailo, I get a rounded $2.3M, so my $3M estimate should more than adequately account for the 2016 cap increase and it's effect on the salaries of rookies drafted in the first 2 rounds. Now I'm going to subtract that $3M giving me 10.8M, but I get to add back $0.45M because our current #49 2016 cap hit just fell to #52, so fell out of the top 51. That leaves us with $11.25M in 2016 top 51 cap space.

Next up: projecting the cap space needed to tender our RFAs. The cost of RFA tenders increases from 5-10% annually depending on the cap. So I can use the 2015 numbers for each level of tender and calculate a range for each level of 2016 tender. With a little rounding, here are those ranges.
1st round tender: $3.5-3.7M.
2nd round tender: $2.5-2.6M
Original round tender: $1.6-1.7M.

I foresee a 1st or 2nd round tender for B. Marshall, a 2nd round tender for CJ Anderson, and possibly an original round tender for McCray. Using my calculated ranges, it will cost from $7.6-$8,0M (if Marshall gets a first round tender), or from $6.6-$6.9M (if Marshall gets a second round tender) to tender all 3. Just to be on the safe side, I'm going to assume the most pessimistic case, and I'm also going to assume we use the 1st round tender for B. Marshall, so I'm going to subtract $8M from the previously caculated $11.25M leaving us with $3.25M. But 3 more cap hits of $.45M will now fall out of the top 51, so I get to add $1.35M back. $1.35M + $3.25M puts us at $4.6M

Next up: Projecting the cap space needed to tender our 5 ERFAs: Brandon McManus, Todd Davis. and am Brenner all have 2 credited seasons and will receive $0.6M tenders. Matt Paradis and Bennie Fowler each have 1 credited season and will receive $.525M tenders. It will cost $2.85M to tender our 5 ERFAs, so I'm going to subtract that from the $4.6M calculated previously, And I get $1.75M. But 5 more $0.45M cap hits fall out of the top 51. I also failed to account for a cap hit falling out of the top 51 when I franchised Von, and it will be the last of our ten $0.45M cap hits. 6 X .45 - $2.7M, so I add that to the previously calculated $1.75M and I end up with $4.45M in 2016 top 51 cap space after saying goodbye to Peyton, franchising Von, tendering all our RFAs and ERFAs, and ensuring adequate top 51 cap space for our draft picks.. And I haven't re-signed Brock or Malik or anybody else. In order to clear the space to re-sign any of our UFAs or to sign anybody else's UFAs, some of our other players will have to accept pay cuts, or restructure, or be cut.

Here are some of the more "popular" candidates, and the 2016 cap space that would be cleared after dead money is accounted for if they were released:

DeMarcus Ware: $10.0M

Ryan Clady: $8.9M

Aquib Talib: almost $7M

Louis Vasquez: $5.5M

TJ Ward: $3.25M

Owen Daniels: $2.5M

Britton Colquitt: $3.25M

And that's all she wrote!

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR.