I think this is one of the most important questions to ask Head Coaching candidates, especially since they will have a heavier hand in talent evaluation and roster assembly. I think this is a very significant aspect of roster construction, but is rarely discussed on fan sites. So, Coach and Cap need to be in sync when it comes to talent evaluation and allocation of cap resources. So, I ask the question of you....................
Give me two roster groups on Offense and Defense that the Broncos should save cap dollars or go cheap on, with the goal of providing the most competitive product on the field? I will provide where I think Paton went cheap on roster dollars, but for sake of argument this can be multiple areas. Going cheap can include draft picks playing above their rookie deals, street free agents performance exceeding the contract, and grooming inferior talent. Also, as a five win team, we will not win any ties in free agency and most likely have to over-pay for any free agent talent. So, this makes the cap management even more important.
On offense, I think Paton saved Cap Space on Offense Line and Running Back. Due to injuries and philosophy, I think OLine was a scrap heap of Bargain Bin and inherited players. But, I think both Meirenz and Fleming out-played their compensation. At running back, Williams is on Rookie Deal, while Gordan returned at a shell of his previous contract ( this is cap conversation not on-field performance). Also, Murray was a big find and exceeded his contract dollars. I still think Offense will have less dollars assigned than Defense, as we are more heavily talented on the Defensive side of the ball.
On defense, I think the DLine and Inside Backers are the areas where we are actively saving cap dollars. Both Shelby Harris and DeShawn Williams are both Street Free Agents that excelled with this Broncos. Harris was part of the compensation for Wilson, so we definitely got value there. I think Inside Backer will continue to be an area where we will work with less than premium players. I am torn on this one, but Jewell and Singleton proved we can hold down the fort with limited athletes and dollars. Finally, ILB can get subbed out to higher dollar secondary players to reduce their impact of the Inside Backer product on passing downs. That said, I would absolutely re-sign Dremont Jones for premium dollars. I consider him as much pass rush as interior DLIne, and talent needs to be kept in house. This reinforces the team will absolutely pay for great performance.
Overall, I would give Paton higher marks on the Draft talent than Pro talent, but I think he has done a good job on this overall. Offensive style can impact this as well, as a true zone blacking scheme can use less expensive OLine and Running Backs...merely as an example. So, philosophy ties back into talent and allocation of cap dollars. So, this is why this question is REALLY important as we seek out our next Head Coach.
So, as we enter the off-season, keep in mind we have to save money somewhere as well. So, post in the comments where you think we should save money THIS YEAR, as talent and performance is fluid.