The further I get in life and in my being a Broncos fan, the more interested I get in the decisions made by the team in the realm of what the GM does.
I used to be pretty reactionary to losing guys that I liked. Nevertheless, as I’ve learned more and more about the NFL and how teams operate, I find myself nodding along with more and more of the decisions I see because there are always reasons behind them.
Let's take Kareem Jackson for starters. For those of you who have followed my work for some time know - I love good safety play. I think it is the key to the modern NFL success of defenses and think the NFL has undervalued the position for quite some time. Kareem is a guy that has been a superb player for the Broncos as a strong safety. He brings the wood as a tackler and understands where to be to break up plays.
But why would the Broncos release such a good player that hasn’t shown signs of necessarily losing a step that is hindering him from doing his job? He’s not trouble off the field. The Broncos weren’t cash strapped or up against the cap (reminder: these are two different things).
Well, he was going to cost the team around $11 million, and cutting him would cost them only $1.5 million. While he still was doing a good job last season, he wasn’t making as many plays as the season prior. It becomes a question of production versus cost along with the question of “Is it time to get a new guy ramped up at this position and save money?”
That’s probably the idea the Broncos had. They will either find a safety to replace him in free agency that won’t cost as much and still be able to do a “good” job at strong safety or they will draft a young replacement and fast track his development.
Also, we can look at the restricted free agent moves and learn a lot about what the Broncos think of some of their younger guys. Phillip Lindsay is a fan favorite and I love him, but the truth is his production just isn’t where it needs to be. He couldn’t beat out Melvin Gordon III. He’s constantly not been able to be a force in the passing game (as a blocker or a pass catcher). He’s got skills to be sure, but he’s missing some too and isn’t developing them enough to make him worth a higher tender.
Contrast that with Alexander Johnson and Tim Patrick. Both got second round tenders and a higher paycheck this season. Both could be guys other teams may want to pick up and that second round tender makes it pretty costly for other teams to do that. Losing Lindsay is no big deal...the Broncos are likely to be looking for an upgrade anyway. Losing Johnson or Patrick is a big deal as both are talented well-rounded players and have significant roles with the team.
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