With training camp around the horizon, many Broncos fans will be eager to see how the 2018 version of the team will take shape. In particular, newcomers to the team will be of the most interest, be it from free agency or the draft. (Or, in the case of Chad Kelly and Jake Butt, from the NFL’s version of a medical redshirt.)
But veterans with multiple years of tenure should also yield observation. And for this brief series, I have my eye on four players entering a contract year who I deem could be eligible for major second contracts: Bradley Roby, Matt Paradis, Shane Ray, and Shaq Barrett. I think the Broncos should have interest in offering three extensions among these four players (since Ray and Barrett play the same position).
However, as always it will be a challenge to get such deals down on satisfactory grounds for all parties. Before training camp I hope to explain how these can get done. But before I get to each player, let’s start with a few general factors.
The Broncos’ cap space will be quite limited over the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
As it stands right now, the Broncos have about $9.7 million in cap space for each of 2018 and 2019, for a total of $19.4 million when accounting for carryover. While this number serendipitously accounts for the Top 51 rules for 2019, as that’s precisely how many players the Broncos have under contract for that year, remember that this figure does not account for the 2018 transition to the regular season, nor does it count for 2019 rookie acquisition. The precise amount cannot be known at this moment, but as a guess I’m going to set aside an estimate of $5.4 million.
So that’s only $14 million for three high level veteran contracts. That doesn’t seem like much at all, but there are ways to make it work within that number, and also to expand it.
The good news is that the Broncos’ 2020 cap space is quite high…
While 2018 and 2019 appear constrained, 2020 is quite wide open, with estimated space crossing nine figures. That space is a bit misleading due to the large number of pending UFAs the Broncos have that year (Chris Harris Jr., Case Keenum, Demaryius Thomas, Justin Simmons among them), but for the immediate term there is room to work within there.
For this reason, I expect any possible extension during the 2018 league year to take advantage of signing bonuses and other prorated techniques on a higher magnitude than they have with previous contracts. The goal there will be to move some cap money away from 2018 and 2019, and move it toward 2020 and beyond.
…but the end of the CBA looms large for 2020.
There will be all kinds of possible turmoil when the current Collective Bargaining Agreement reaches expiration, but one aspect of it is that there are different accounting rules for 2020. These exist so that teams cannot take unfair advantage of the lack of CBA jurisdiction for contract years beyond its scope.
This will add challenges to any long term deal that the Broncos want to strike that expands both into and beyond 2020. I’ll address these details for each specific contract as they become relevant, but just be aware that not all of the usual rules apply for this year.
There is also cash spending to take into account.
Unlike with the cap, there’s no precise way to know just how much the Broncos can afford to devote in cold hard cash to major extensions at this time. But it should be mentioned that as it stands right now, the Broncos are second in active cash spending, and are seventh in 2019. Those numbers may not always hold up, but keep in mind that any contract I propose must account for cash distributions for all fully guaranteed money–whether that’s paid out immediately to the player at signing, or set aside in escrow until its due date. If news remains quiet on any potential extension, one possible reason may be that the Broncos are unable or unwilling to part with the cash necessary to make it happen.
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Keep those points in mind as I proceed with each player’s case for an extension. For one final list of points lso keep in mind that there are generally four ways to make room for players on an NFL roster:
- Let players walk to free agency.
- Cut or trade players.
- Restructure the contracts of players.
- Extend players. (Yes, you read that one right: I’ll explain soon enough.)