Midweek Musings: Let’s Give ‘Em Something to Talk About

Just when you thought it was going to be a slow week for the NFL, along comes the report that the Broncos tried to trade Peyton Manning to the Texans.

We saw the initial tweets from Benjamin Allbright that were shared earlier, and the response from Mike Klis that the Broncos did approach Manning about taking a $10M pay cut. Then came Ian Rapoport, who tweeted that the Texans had called teams about their quarterback situations, and that was all they really did.

I think that this talk about what the Broncos want to do with Manning comes about because so many people are convinced Manning can’t possibly run Kubiak’s offense, before Manning even takes a snap in the preseason. Add to this that Manning did agree to restructure his salary, that the Texans have a big question mark at the QB position, and you have all the ingredients needed to stir the pot.

Let’s keep one thing in mind: When the front office of every team has discussions behind closed doors, many things discussed, ideas get tossed around, and while a few may be taken seriously, much of it is just throwing out ideas. Someone with the Broncos may have mentioned whether or not it was time to part ways with Manning, but just because it gets mentioned, doesn’t mean everyone was serious about it. At the same time, the Texans may very well have called the Broncos about whether or not Manning was available, but just because they do, doesn’t mean there’s serious interest.

In other words, we shouldn’t be taking this for any more than it likely is: Front office talk that became public knowledge because Allbright talked to somebody who may have been involved with such discussions, or somebody with the organization who heard the talk. And given that this is the slow part of the NFL offseason, Allbright sends out the information so people have something to talk about.

Sure, one can say when there’s smoke, there’s fire. But that doesn’t mean it’s always a major fire burning the landscape. Sometimes it’s just a small campfire that’s being watched carefully and will eventually be put out. The Manning talk is likely far closer to being that campfire.

With that said, it does bring up the question about how many veteran players on this year’s roster are likely to be on the team next season. Jason LaCanfora goes over these questions, talking about how the Broncos structured most of the contracts, and that several of their big-name veterans could be let go after this season.

I will be fair to LaCanfora, and say that I don’t think he believes the Broncos intend to blow everything up after this season. With that said, while some of the veterans will likely be gone, that doesn’t mean all of them will. It is, however, worth reviewing who is most likely to be asked to take a pay cut or be released, and who is likely to stick around even if 2015 is Manning’s last season.

DeMarcus Ware: With Ware expected to transition into a rotational role this season, there’s no way he’ll stick around with the Broncos next season with an $11.6M cap hit. I have mentioned previously that Ware could stay if he accepts a salary reduction. If he doesn’t, the Broncos will part ways. This will be a roster move that happens regardless of what happens to Manning.

Ryan Clady: He won’t play this season, and whether or not he plays next season all depends on what rookie Ty Sambrailo does. If Sambrailo struggles, Clady will be back, and it’s highly unlikely he’ll accept a pay cut. If Sambrailo excels, Clady won’t be back. If the Broncos find Sambrailo’s performance middling, but see plenty of potential, then it’s likely the Broncos will ask Clady to take a pay cut, but promise to make his 2016 salary fully guaranteed. Unlike Ware, this one is too soon to call.

Aqib Talib: Had charges been filed in the off-field incident Talib and his brother had been involved in earlier this year, it would be very likely that 2015 would be Talib’s last season with the team. As it is, everything depends on Talib’s performance this season, and whether or not he avoids any other off-field incidents. A sharp decline in performance or another arrest means he won’t be back after 2015. If he plays well and has no off-field incidents, it’s hard to see the Broncos cutting him. The $10M cap hit Talib has in 2016 is manageable. It’s 2017, though, when the Broncos could be ready to move on, if they believe Bradley Roby is ready to be the No. 2 cornerback alongside Chris Harris and they want to prepare for an extension for Roby.

T.J. Ward: The Broncos could certainly get out of his contract easily after this season. But that’s not going to happen unless Ward’s performance drop dramatically. It’s easy to manage his $5.75M cap hit. That cap hit will stay the same in 2017, so I believe Ward will remain with the Broncos as long as he continues performing at a high level.

Emmanuel Sanders: We may as well throw in another one of the veterans who joined the Broncos as they were looking for another Super Bowl trip. Sanders will have a $6M cap hit next season and enter the final year of his contract. Again, though, the Broncos won’t cut him unless his performance drops dramatically.

Louis Vasquez: Next season, Vasquez’s cap hit rises to $6.75M in the final year of his contract. A good 2015 season from Vasquez means he should stick around, and the Broncos might see him as the veteran offensive lineman they want to keep. So the Broncos might consider extending him to for a few more years, converting some of his $5.5M base salary into a signing bonus. If they think an extension through 2018 would be good, they could convert $3M of the base salary for a little extra cap room in 2016, without greatly impacting their long-term situation.

That’s what I have for you this week. Next week’s musings, though, will either be a day early or a day late. Weird Al Yankovic will be in concert in Wichita July 1 and I’ve got a ticket. Enjoy the rest of your week, everyone.

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Bob Morris

I'm a sports writer in real life, though I've always focused on smaller communities, but that hasn't stopped me from learning more about some of the ins and outs of the NFL. You can follow me on Twitter @BobMorrisSports if you can put up with updates on the high school sports teams I cover.