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Horse Tracks: Broncos' cap space, free agency in 2015

No matter what happens with Free Agency, the Draft and Peyton Manning, one thing has become quite clear - next season is going to be different in many ways than this one.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Good late-morning, Broncos Country!

I'm just here so I won't get fined - haha!

OK, not really, but I am just here to start the conversation :)

And what better way to do that than to pull out some of the best thoughts from others regarding the Broncos!

ESPN's Jeff Legwold is talking salary cap and player contracts this morning, and his projections may make a lot of fans happy. With 17 players listed as restricted or unrestricted free agents, the Broncos have a lot of decisions to make. But as Legwold points out, Broncos GM John Elway is not looking to let as many current players walk as he did last year.

"We like our roster, we like where we are with the moves we've made,'' Elway said. "We're always looking to improve and will bring in any player we think is an improvement over guys we have, but we have some of our own guys coming up and we want to do what we can there.''

The NFL reported just before the end of the season that the 2015 salary cap was expected to be between $138.6 and $141.8 million per team, more than $5 million more in cap space per team than last year.

According to Legwold, if the cap is near those projections, the Broncos "would (conservatively) have about $25 million in projected workable salary cap space," taking into account the team's top 51 salary cap figures right now.

Elway is anticipating "about eight draft picks," which will have to be factored into that number too. And if Manning is on the roster March 9, that's another $19 million chunk out.

With minimal player bonuses and dead money to account for, Legwold sees the Broncos aiming to keep many of their free agents, possibly tagging Demaryius Thomas (in 2014 that was just north of $12 million) if a long-term deal can't be reached, and looking to restructure Ryan Clady's contract.

It all means the Broncos' focus will be largely on their own free agents. The top priority is wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, whom the Broncos would certainly like to sign to a long-term deal, but at minimum will be poised to use the franchise player tag on him for '15.

Julius Thomas and Terrance Knighton are high on the list but with JT's vocal request to be among the highest paid tight ends (around $10 million) in the NFL and Knighton likely to be wooed by Jack Del Rio and the Raiders, Elway will have to choose whether the favorites deserve the money they want.

What do you think, Broncos Country ... Assuming Manning, Clady and DT are on the roster, who are the next top priorities. Where do you rank the Broncos' priorities in signing JT, Virgil Green, Brandon Marshall, Orlando Franklin?

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