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Horse Tracks: Restructure or Bust?

Before 'MANNING WATCH 2015' becomes a thing, let's refocus this conversation on the football issue that merits discussion - Manning's $19 million salary on the team cap.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country!


The media's conversations regarding Peyton Manning's future with the Broncos have de-escalated rather quickly from interesting conjecture to buzz-creating assumptions.

But among all the noise in the non-story stories regarding Manning Watch 2015 (say that in your deepest broadcast news voice for extra effect), there has been one enlightening topic that merits further and reasoned discussion - the impact of Manning's $19.3 million salary on the team's salary cap.

In a column published originally on Football by Football, former Patriots' linebacker Matt Chatham lays out the dilemma the Broncos and Manning face - money.

With an obvious bias for his own former QB Tom Brady, Chatham makes a case for teams performing better when their offensive field general is not taking such a big chunk of the salary cap.

And he has a good point - but it may not be possible - or simple - regarding Manning and the Broncos. The guys at Over The Cap have done a much better job than I at explaining the possible scenarios but the Spoiler Alert is that it can be done but it impacts the dead money in 2016 - all of which are a lot more than what his salary impacts this season.

There's really no example in the modern era where a Super Bowl-winning team has overcome a monster QB cap hit to win it all.   -Matt Chatham, former NFL linebacker

"When a quarterback salary cap hit jumps to top-of-league levels, that team becomes stressed from an overall team depth standpoint before a game has even been played.  There's really no example in the modern era where a Super Bowl-winning team has overcome a monster QB cap hit to win it all," Chatham argues.

While Brady's 11.13% of the team's salary cap this past season is the highest percentage among Super Bowl winning teams in the last 11 years, the fact that this season's Super Bowl MVP was 11th among quarterbacks for cap hits this year - compared to Tony RomoDrew Brees and Peyton Manning who occupy the top three spots - gives some anecdotal evidence to support Chatham's view.

Take the game-sealing play in this year's Super Bowl. In a matter of seconds after the ball was snapped, the two Patriots players most involved in securing the win for New England were not Brady but Brandon Browner and Malcolm Butler - who have a combined salary of less than a quarter of Brady's.

"The important point here is that these savings in a salary cap environment aren't just cash - they are players.  Players that determine the outcomes of games," Chatham writes. "There will always be a blend of higher and lower-paid players on NFL teams.  It's the teams that are better top-to-bottom that inevitably win."

While Brady's restructure for next season is not nearly the Good Samaritan contract you might think - as perfectly pointed out by Bronco Mike - Chatham's thesis is still interesting but not necessarily viable for Peyton Manning's situation.

Manning has a cap number of $21.5 million for 2015 and 2016 - $19 million each season with $2.5 million pro-rated bonus.

If he retires this year, it only costs the Broncos $5 million this year in dead money; next year is $2.5 million. But as Over The Cap estimates, that dead money number could be more in the $15-$18 million range in 2016 with a restructure this year.

But to really restructure the contract just to whittle down the salary, requires adding longevity to the contract. Broncos could restructure to another 3- or 4-year deal for the same $43 million to get his yearly salary to $10-15 million, but I don't think anyone - even Manning himself - sees the future Hall-of-Famer playing into his 40s.

If Peyton Manning is serious about coming back to help the team win, and if the Denver Broncos are serious this season about ‘Plan A' to win a championship, then his contract may not be the way to allow room.

As so much of the Manning debate has focused primarily on his age, the team's public comments and a whole lot of talk about nothing, the conversation is going to come down to making sure Manning can play up to his elite-level contract for 19 weeks and possibly, maybe whether a pay cut makes sense.

Much more special Special Teams?

Broncos' new special teams coach Joe DeCamillis, who recently came from the Chicago Bears but got his coaching start with Denver back in 1988, is looking forward to giving back to the team that gave him his first chance - and with good results.

"I couldn't be more excited about being here, being able to have a chance to work with John and Mr. Bowlen. Mr. Bowlen really helped me at the start of my career by even hiring me in the first place," said DeCamillis, who coached Broncos special teams from 1988-92, during which time the team had two winning seasons but lost in the 1989 Super Bowl and the 1991 AFC Conference championship. "Hopefully I can help him out a little bit more than I did the first time, that's for sure."

Among his many challenges with the ST unit will be figuring out the kicking situation.How the Broncos will remedy their three kicker situation is "wide open" at this point, DeCamillis said.

The Colorado native also noted that picking the best punt returners and finding players to buy in to special teams is on the agenda...but first he has to get to know his roster.

Without giving any names yet, DeCamillis said he has noticed some players.

"There are several guys that have showed up. ...there are some players here, no question," he said. "We've just got to identify all of them and try to put them in the best possible positions to succeed."

Having a roster put together by Elway, the guy who was QB when DeCamillis was first coaching here, makes the special teams coach very confident.

"I know with John being able to pick the team I feel very comfortable with him in him getting the right guys, that's for sure," DeCamillis said. "He's done a great job putting this roster together. There are a lot of teams around that league that can say, ‘Hey we're going to try to get to the next level.' Well, this team you can actually say it and mean it."

Time Out with Dr. Seuss

When things get a little testy around my house, we call a time out and all angry parties must go to their respective rooms. If all goes well, it ends with story time - sometimes via Sports Illustrated and sometimes Dr. Seuss.

With all the strong feelings among Broncos fans regarding Manning, etc., of late, I'm thinking a little Dr. Seuss couldn't hurt. The following is my Broncos adaptation of the Dr. Seuss' classic - and one of my favs -  "If I Ran the Zoo."

"It's a pretty good team,"

Said young John Albert Elway,

"And the fellow who runs it,

Seems proud of it, I'll say.

"But since I run this team,"

Said young John Albert Elway,

"I'll make a few changes,

Like back in the day."

The coaches and coordinators and that kind of stuff

Have done really well, but not quite good enough.

You see schemes like these on just any old team.

They're boring and predictable and have no steam.

So I'm opening the playbook and unlocking the minds

Of some great new football coaches who can fix the lines.

And somehow or other, I think I can find

Some beasts of a much more unusual kind.

A DE who can blitz is not much of a beast

Unless he sacks the QB, three, four times at the least.

Three on the line and four in the back

Fans will say, "This 3-4 can really kick ass!

"This GM and his team are actually quite boss.

"Those defensive beasts keep tackling for a loss."

Stop ...? Well, maybe I should.

But I must chase the glory,

'Til we capture the Lombardi.

It's the world's biggest trophy from the Isle of Green Bay

And it doesn't come "too f-in easy," despite what they say.

I'll find a quarterback who can defy his age just one more year,

With an understudy ready to kick it in high gear.

I'll scour the earth for a receiver - or two ...

Who can beat out the corners and score TDs - or a few!

I'll search high and low for a tight end with grit.

He must catch like a pro but know how to hit.

The running back I sign will scamper with flare.

All the other teams will say, "It just isn't fair.

"Young Elway is amazing; Plan A is just brilliant.

No team is better - not from Seattle to New England.

These wonderful, marvelous beasts in all phases

Have made him the greatest of all great Elwayses!"

"WOW!" They'll all cheer,

"What this team must be worth!

"It's the best freakin' team

"On the face of the earth!"

Yes, yes...That's what they'd say,"

Said young John Albert Elway.

"Because I made a few changes,

Just like back in the day."

Horse Tracks

Broncos have one offensive plan, no matter the quarterback - Denver Broncos Blog - ESPN
There isn't one plan for an offense with Peyton Manning at quarterback and one plan for an offense if Manning isn't behind center.

Eric Decker trying to recruit Demaryius Thomas to New York
Former Broncos receiver Eric Decker spent some time with free-agent-to-be Demaryius Thomas to talk about joining the Jets if the Broncos don't re-sign him.

Broncos' Wade Phillips fully comfortable as defensive coordinator - The Denver Post
"I was a lousy head coach, but I'm a pretty good defensive coordinator," Phillips said. "That's what I do well, so I wanted to get back to doing that."

Broncos won't be running on empty in Gary Kubiak's offense - The Denver Post
Broncos won't run on empty in Gary Kubiak's offense.

Broncos have one offensive plan, no matter the quarterback - Denver Broncos Blog - ESPN
There isn't one plan for an offense with Peyton Manning at quarterback and one plan for an offense if Manning isn't behind center.

A look back at Joe DeCamillis' brush with serious injury
A look back at when the Cowboys' practice bubble collapsed on Joe DeCamillis, who is now the Broncos' special teams coordinator.

Peyton Manning Must Play For Less To Win - Football By Football
Peyton Manning has been one of the best NFL quarterbacks of all time. He's also been one of the all-time highest compensated players in league history - and nothing handicaps a roster like a top-paid quarterback.

Can Peyton Manning Ride off into Sunset with One Last Shot? | Bleacher Report
Denver Broncos news, rumors, scores, schedules, predictions, picks against the spread, free agent updates, power rankings, mock drafts and more.

John Schneider of Seattle Seahawks talks Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson - ESPN
Seahawks GM John Schneider said the team has begun contract negotiations with Russell Wilson, who Schneider said gets it and wants to win. Schneider also said the Seahawks want Marshawn Lynch back, but the GM doesn't know if Lynch wants to return.

2015 NFL unrestricted free agents by position -
Ndamukong Suh highlights the list of available defensive tackles in the 2015 free agency class. Check out who else is on the market at each position.

Seahawks looking outside box on Russell Wilson's deal -
General manager John Schneider is emphasizing an "outside the box" approach to Russell Wilson's contract extension. Can the Seahawks afford both Wilson and Marshawn Lynch in 2015?