Today we continue our Broncos 2017 roster breakdown series with guard Max Garcia.
After being drafted in the fourth round out of the University of Florida, Max Garcia was immediately put to work, rotating in at both guard spots during Denver’s Super Bowl run. Things looked promising for the young guard, and I was very hopeful that we had found a late-round gem who would grow into a solid staple on the line.
Unfortunately, that never quite panned out. Although Garcia earned the starting role the last two seasons, that was more likely a function of the dearth of quality interior offensive linemen than it was an endorsement of Garcia.
Every time I watched tape on Denver’s offensive line, Garcia stuck out to me, and not in a good way.
In addition to getting routinely driven back in the run game, Garcia also struggled mightily with stunts and delayed blitzes in pass protection as well.
Max Garcia Stats
Garcia split time early on with Allen Barbre, then played all of the available snaps at left guard in the back half of the season when Barbre moved over to right tackle after Menelik Watson went down.
Max Garcia PFF Grade
According to Pro Football Focus, Garcia graded out with an overall 41.2 (out of 100) grade, a 40.8 in the passing game, and 40.7 in the run game.
Additionally, Garcia ranked eighth worst in the league among 60 qualifying guards with 34 pressures allowed and four sacks given up, which was tied for ninth worst.
Max Garcia Contract
Here’s where things get a little tricky.
Garcia was drafted in the fourth round, so he has been on a very affordable deal so far. However, there is a clause in the CBA called the Proven Performance Escalator (PPE). This is built in for players drafted between rounds four and seven and gives them a bonus in the final year of their rookie contract if they have played over 35% of their team’s total snaps.
The Proven Performance Escalator (PPE) rewards draft choices from later rounds for contributions that exceed their draft slot. The PPE is a part of all rookie contracts for any player selected in rounds 3-7. First- and second-round draft choices, along with undrafted free agents, do not qualify for the PPE (Art. 7, Sec. 4, (a-b), 28).
A player will receive an increase to his fourth-year P5 Salary (base) by reaching one of two qualifiers. The player has to participate in a minimum of 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive plays for either two of his three seasons or for a “cumulative average” of at least 35% of the offensive or defensive plays over the course of his first three years (Art. 7, Sec. 4, (c), 28).
Garcia contributed 49%, 100%, and 77% of the Bronco’s total snaps each year (respectively) since being drafted. Thus, this escalator goes into effect for him.
If a player qualifies for the PPE, he receives a non-negotiable escalation of his fourth-year P5 Salary of the amount equal to the Right of First Refusal tender for Restricted Free Agents subtracted by the player’s fourth year salary. This figure (excluding signing bonus) is added to the player’s fourth year P5 Salary (Sec. 4, (d), 28).
No portion of the PPE can be guaranteed for any type of termination.
In my opinion, this is a great clause—to reward players drafted in the later rounds for outproducing their draft status. However, in this case, it may make Garcia a target for the chopping block because his play so far, while enough to start among the traffic cones that have been Denver’s offensive line the last two years, hasn’t warranted his upcoming cap hit.
In a draft where there is strong depth on the interior offensive line and a free agency period in which Denver will likely be looking to pinch every penny, I think the Broncos will decide to save that $1.9 million in cap space to allocate elsewhere.
It’s unfortunate that the escalator fell this year, as Garcia likely would have been retained for cheap depth otherwise. Given Denver’s rough history with drafting offensive linemen, the fact that they got what they did from Garcia is a positive.
Bottom line: I don’t expect Garcia to be on the team in 2018.