George Paton won the award for having the best 2021 draft class last year, but his astute cap management might be the most impressive thing in Paton’s brief tenure as General Manager of the Denver Broncos so far.
It’s critical for teams to master the art of cap management. Teams like the Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints, and recently the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been fantastic at it, and it’s no surprise each are annual contenders.
So far, Paton’s efforts here haven’t gone unnoticed. Pro Football Focus recently ranked the Broncos 13th in salary cap health, just behind the Kansas City Chiefs at 11th.
PFF calculated team health off of rookie-contract players, projected effective cap space from 2022 to 2024, Total Prorated money, Top-51 veteran valuation, and 2023 free agent projections.
Here’s what they had to say about Denver:
Denver earned the top spot in last year’s ranking, albeit under slightly different criteria. The Broncos’ ability to acquire quarterback Russell Wilson in a blockbuster trade with the Seattle Seahawks while still maintaining cap health was foreseeable and wise.
Perhaps the most impressive thing they did was agree to early extensions in November with wide receivers Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick for $15 million and $10 million per year, respectively. Twelve wide receivers have since signed contracts for more per year in just seven months.
The Broncos finally have their answer at quarterback and are in a good spot to add more talent the next few offseasons as they see fit, though Wilson will presumably look for a top-of-market extension in the near future.
The Sutton and Patrick extensions aged like fine wine, especially given the exorbitant contracts handed out to wide receivers in free agency. Paton flexed his muscles on getting those structured to be team-friendly and has so far shown a shrewdness in cap management that all the best General Managers have.
Even without Wilson last year and dealing with an ankle injury for most of the season, Jeudy still averaged 1.85 yards per route — a figure better than five different 1,000-yard receivers in 2021.
Ten years after their time together in the Wisconsin backfield, Russell Wilson and Melvin Gordon finally get to take snaps together in the NFL, bringing the Broncos a deep friendship and camaraderie.
“Broncos ticket prices have seen the biggest spike, year over year. There were even a few teams, like the Tennessee Titans that decreased....but the Broncos made a big jump, by far the biggest.”