Earlier today, Jason Fitzgerald at Over The Cap notified me of a salary cap charge that the Broncos incurred today. In doing the math and looking at some team history that I’ll explain beyond the fold, the best guess as to what this cap charge is all about is that former Bronco Tony Carter may have filed a grievance against the team.
The amount of cap dollars that the Broncos were charged today was $616,800. According to Art. 13, §5(e) of the CBA, once a grievance is filed, 40% of the salary in dispute is charged against the team until the grievance is resolved. $616,800 of 40% is $1.542 million—a number that matches perfectly with the lowest tender for restricted free agents in 2015. That offseason, the Broncos only had three players eligible for restricted free agency. One, Aaron Brewer, was extended by the Broncos. Another, Steven Johnson, was not offered an RFA tender, and is now with the Titans.
As you can probably guess by now given the title and the RFA tender list I linked to, that only leaves Tony Carter. He, of course, somewhat unexpectedly received an RFA tender despite falling out of favor with the team and stuck behind impressive talent at cornerback in Chris Harris, Jr., Aqib Talib, and Bradley Roby. Many observers speculated that the reason the Broncos tendered Carter was so that they could try to trade him to interested suitors. But trying to convince another team to take on a $1.542 million contract for someone buried in the depth chart looked like a tough sell, and ultimately Carter was among those cut at the end of the preseason.
Typically, a player filing a grievance in Carter’s case will do so on the basis of injury, arguing that his team should have placed him on injured reserve (and thus guaranteeing his salary for the year) instead of cutting him. Looking back at some previous reports, Carter was held out of practice on August 27, and again on August 31, with a hamstring injury that also kept him out of the last preseason game on September 3. Since he was cut, Carter has had only one known workout, and that was for the Ravens on September 22.
Assuming that this guess of a grievance is correct, it of course remains to be seen as to which side will prevail, or whether an injury settlement will be reached between Carter and the Broncos. But with salary cap challenges ahead of the Broncos for 2016, having to eat an additional $1.542 million for a player no longer on the team would be unfortunate.