Over the past three days, I have laid out cases for possible Broncos extensions for Bradley Roby, Matt Paradis, and one of Shane Ray or Shaq Barrett. Should these extensions come to a reality, what will that mean for the Broncos, not just financially but also from a roster building standpoint?
Salary cap changes
This table explains how the cap charges for each contract would be altered for 2018, and the liabilities added for 2019:
|Player||2018 Current||2018 Future||2019|
2018’s cap room increases by $2.1 million, while 2019 sees a decrease of almost $22 million. This means that there is a net decrease of $19.7 million. As I stated in the introduction, I’m roughly guessing that, after 2019’s salary cap is determined, and cap space is set aside for 2018 roster transactions and 2019 draft picks, the Broncos will have $14 million.
Uh oh, I’ve just put the Broncos about $5-6 million over the 2019 cap. Is that a problem? If so, it’s a problem that can be addressed closer to the time it becomes enforceable. But for the present, the Broncos would believe that they have achieved the benefit of extending players that they feel can be core contributors for the team for multiple seasons. Look at the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles: they could be over the 2019 cap by a similar amount (once Nick Foles’s contract is obviously done away with) but they see that as part of the business of retaining the core talent they felt was responsible for getting that ring. John Elway always thinks in terms of championships from “now on”, so if he agrees that retaining these players are the way to do it, then fear of the salary cap won’t stop him.
So how do the Broncos manage that overage? Well, in the contracts I’ve crafted, they’ve already helped out the situation in one way: using signing bonuses more extensively than is typical of them to defer cap charges to 2020 and beyond, where space is more plentiful. This is particularly true for Roby, whose current $8.5 million base salary has the most potential to be pared down in an extension.
What other transactions could be on the horizon if these extensions come to fruition?
This is something the Broncos are even more averse to doing, but if they’re doing it in this scenario for 2019, it will actually be a good thing. This means that they made the right contractual decisions not only with these players, but also with decisions like signing Case Keenum, picking up Demaryius Thomas’s option, and so on. Restructuring would be a sign that the team is confident with their roster for the medium term future.
With Roby and Paradis in particular, I have also structured their extensions with the ability to restructure each of them in 2019 if those deals pay off. Convert $5 million of Roby’s base salary to a signing bonus, and do the same with $3 million for Paradis, and that’s a 2019 cap space gain of $6 million, enough to cover the overage.
Cut players (or decline their options for comp picks)
In a non-utopian, but not necessarily dystopian, scenario, extending Roby, Paradis, and one of Ray or Barrett may mean that some other players will have to depart to make room for them. That’s the nature of the NFL, of course.
In my early forecasting for 2019, I listed some players that could become cap casualties. The most evident is Menelik Watson, whose 2019 cap savings will equate $6.125 million upon having his option declined. That’s a serendipitous way to cover approximately the same size of cap overage I’ve given the Broncos, right?
But if Watson is the only high priced departure, that’s still a rosy scenario. Remember that the Broncos could also be looking for new starters at right tackle and nose tackle with Domata Peko and Jared Veldheer also in the last years of their contracts. They may need to make more than just $6 million in space to get the roster to where they want to be for 2019.
Emmanuel Sanders could have his option declined for a cap space gain of over $10 million if Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton show enough. Same for Brandon Marshall ($5 million) if Josey Jewell and Keishawn Bierria show enough. Same for Derek Wolfe ($8.5 million) if DeMarcus Walker shows enough. Darian Stewart could be cut for up to a $5 million saving if Su’a Cravens showns enough.
Keep those names in mind when you see how the 2018 Broncos perform should they come to extensions similar to what I’ve put out.
Let any of Roby, Paradis, Ray or Barrett walk to free agency
Finally, while I feel I’ve done a valiant job of crafting contracts that are fair to both sides, there is plenty of room for disagreement coming from anyone ranging from a fellow fan to Elway himself. It’s cromulent to state that the prices I’ve laid out are too much for the Broncos, and that if they get these deals, it’s better for the Broncos if it’s with another team.
There are risks, of course, with letting proven talent walk. There has to be confidence that they can be effectively replaced for cheaper with players either on rookie contracts (Brendan Langley, Issac Yiadom, Connor McGovern, Jeff Holland) or on low level veteran contracts. If those efforts fail, the Broncos worsen as a team on the whole.
But if their confidence in such players are correct, the financial benefits become obvious as stated above. In addition, there is compensatory pick considerations for letting any of these players walk. Roby would likely be valued as a 3rd round comp pick at market value, Paradis a 4th, and for Ray and Barrett anywhere between the 4th to 6th round level depending on what they could get elsewhere.
Whatever your opinion, and the ultimate opinion of the Broncos’ front office, I hope that this week long series has been informative to all of you to understand what kind of future could be coming in Denver with maintaining the top levels of their roster.