The new league year officially begins on Wednesday, but there will be plenty of NFL-related news over the next two days as the league kicks off with the ‘legal tampering’ period of free agency. It will be a unique free agency this season due to COVID-19 pushing the salary cap backwards in a big way.
There has already been a ‘bloodbath’ of sorts with teams cutting plenty of quality veteran players to get themselves under this new salary cap. This won’t affect the Broncos as much as they were well under the projected lower cap number all offseason, but they won’t have a ton of wiggle room for any big splashes in free agency.
Broncos free agency overview
After using the franchise tag on Justin Simmons, the Broncos still have over $30 million in salary cap space. They could free up an additional $24 million in cap space with looming decisions on safety Kareem Jackson and edge rusher Von Miller.
The biggest decision we are waiting on from General Manager George Paton is the decision on Von Miller’s contract option. The deadline is March 16th and if Denver refuses we’ll be saying goodbye to Miller in free agency.
Current salary cap space: $31,558,285
Notable Broncos’ free agents: Shelby Harris, Will Parks, Demar Dotson, Jeremiah Attaochu, DeMarcus Walker, Elijah Wilkinson
Top positional needs: Cornerback and Quarterback.
What is legal tampering in the NFL?
The ‘legal tampering’ period was setup in 2013 to help combat the pre-free agency tampering by NFL teams. The NFL setup a 48-hour window where teams could ‘legally’ tamper with free agents before the official start of free agency. Teams could enter into negotiations with free agents they were targeting, but could not announce any official deals until the actual start of free agency.
In 2021, legal tampering will begin at 2:00 p.m. Mountain time on Monday, March 15th, which is 48 hours before the official start of free agency on March 17th.
What to expect from the Broncos this week
Probably not much.
For the last week plus the news around Dove Valley has been about their focus on the second wave of free agents and a desire to avoid any high priced signing early on. George Paton basically said the same thing during his last press conference a few weeks ago.
“You never want to go crazy in free agency,” Paton said. “You don’t want to build your team in free agency. You want to fill selective needs going into the draft. That has been my philosophy. You don’t always want to be the first one out of the gate and throw all your money, but there is something you need, you’ll take a shot. I just think you have to be selective and you have to look at every situation. If you can fill a need and help your team, you’re going to go for it.”
It would appear the big focus from an ideological standpoint with Paton’s Broncos will be building a competitive team through the NFL Draft. We’ll have to see if the team holds true to this through legal tampering and the first week of free agency.