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Not picking up Russell Okung’s option freed up $10.9M in cap space for Broncos

The Denver Broncos are in desperate need of talent at the tackle position, but the $11M in cap space they picked up by letting Russell Okung walk was worth the risk for John Elway.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos, on Thursday, decided not to pick up left tackle Russell Okung’s option. Okung will now be a free agent. The move leaves the Broncos without a starting caliber left or right tackle on the roster.

In a way, this decision hurts the offensive line talent as Okung was one of the more reliable lineman last season as Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro broke down on The Afternoon Drive below. However, it gives them options to go after the top free agents on the market.

What this move did for the Broncos was free up an additional $10.9M in cap space for John Elway to work with in free agency himself. Their number currently stands at $42M according to, but if they move away from Donald Stephenson as well that will give them nearly $45M to work with heading into the free agent period.

The tackle situation is dire and, frankly, the tackle market in free agency isn’t all that impressive. Andrew Whitworth is the biggest name out there, but at 35 years of age how long will he continue to be good? A better option, would be to use the sizable draft capital the Broncos have this year and trade for a top tier guy like Joe Thomas instead. If the Cleveland Browns are willing to play ball, that would pay far bigger dividends than going after one of the guys on the street.

Depending on how much Okung signs for on the street, the Broncos will apparently be eligible for a compensatory pick in 2018. So moving on from Okung appears to be a win-win from an offseason standpoint, but it leaves a lot of questions hanging in the air at the position.