John Elway has done an excellent job managing the salary cap for the Denver Broncos to hold true to his ethos of winning now and from now on, but the 2016 offseason has presented his biggest challenge yet. As Super Bowl champions with a plethora of starters about to hit the free agent market, there is only so much money to go around.
Von Miller is about to get his mega long-term extension, but no real movement with Malik Jackson or Brock Osweiler. With Elway already ruling out Osweiler as a candidate for the franchise tag if Miller is signed, that would leave Jackson as the only logical candidate for such a move.
Still, Jackson would cost over $16 million with the exclusive tag and around $15 million with the non-exclusive. That means the Broncos are going to need some additional cap space to give themselves some room to improve the offensive line.
Something Elway himself noted on Thursday saying, "Obviously that’s an area where we need to get better. That’s going to be a focal point for us this year as we go into free agency as well as the draft. Ty will come back and we think he’s going to come back and be healthy and he’ll be fine."
The two most likely candidate for improving the Broncos cap situation this offseason would be DeMarcus Ware and Ryan Clady.
Elway said wants Ware back. Ware and Clady share agent. Will talk to him Friday about their situations/contracts— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) February 25, 2016
Of the potential to restructure their contracts, Elway said, "Ryan, I’ll sit down and talk to. We haven’t had a chance to really spend any time doing that, and so once we get through this process, get through the combine, then we’ll get back and sit down with him. I’ll talk to all those guys. I’m going to talk to DeMarcus. The time that we haven’t had up until this point, I’ll be able to spend time with them. Ryan will be one of those guys that we’ll sit down and talk to. We have a lot of different plans and a lot of different situations. The closer we get to the deadline and as far as the new league year, we’ll start molding that and see how everything takes shape."
Reading between the lines there, it certainly appears as though Elway would be fine with leaving Ware's contract alone or perhaps even extending it - just given how little he said regarding Ware at all. The same cannot be said of Clady.
Elway clearly wants to restructure Clady's contract as that money is desperately needed to fill the talent deficiencies on along the offensive line. The good news is, Clady appears willing to get that done.
Looking at it from a production standpoint, restructuring Clady is a fair request from the Broncos. While asking Ware for a restructured deal would be less than fair given how instrumental he has been to the Broncos historic championship run.
The cap savings from Clady would be nearly $9 million if he is straight up cut, but it would be far more valuable for the Broncos to bring him back in 2016 for half the price. The extra cap space could be used to shore up the offensive line, thereby improving the Broncos chances to make it through a season without major offensive line issues.
What do you think, Broncos Country?