Andy Janovich revived the fullback position in Denver once he arrived after Peyton Manning retired. Entering the final year of his rookie contract, what future can he expect after this season?
Fullbacks simply don’t get paid, unless they get really lucky.
One of the most bizarre contracts in recent NFL history was the 49ers, coached by Kyle Shanahan, handing out a $5.25 million APY contract to Kyle Juszczyk. His offense, much like the one his father gloriously ran in Denver, values fullbacks, and that could be a point in Janovich’s favor since the Broncos have hired a Shanahan disciple in Rich Scangarello at offensive coordinator.
But Juszczyk’s contract is such an extreme outlier that it should not be seriously considered in negotiations. The range more in line with top tier fullback pay ranges from $1.1 million to $2.1 million in APY, and it is a small group as well, with many teams not even carrying a fullback and others (like the Broncos in the first four years of Janovich’s career) relying on rookie contract fullbacks. Barring John Elway mimicking his friend John Lynch at an extreme, Janovich should not expect to bust this range, and certainly not to the extent Juszczyk did.
Special teams contribution is also not likely to raise Janovich’s talent valuation.
It could also be argued that Janovich is more than a fullback, as in his past two seasons he has been on over 60% of the Broncos’ special teams snaps. But special teamers don’t get paid much more than fullbacks do. For example, Matt Slater, the regular AFC special teams representative at the Pro Bowl, has been unable to sign a contract higher than $2.5 million APY in his career. Special teams contribution will definitely make it easier for Janovich to keep his NFL career going, but it’s unlikely to boost his pay.
A sample contract
|Year||Base Salary||Prorated Bonus||Cap Number||Dead Money||Cap Savings|
Nothing fancy here, just a four year, $8 million contract that guarantees Janovich $3 million at signing via a $2 million signing bonus and a guaranteed 2020 base salary of $1 million. Both this guarantee and first year cash flow fits in well within the non-outlier pay of the likes of Patrick DiMarco, Jamize Olawale, or Roosevelt Nix. Any of these numbers, or the length of the contract, could be tinkered with considerably for whatever purpose you like without changing much magnitude of liability for either the Broncos or Janovich.
Janovich is unlikely to be extended until the Broncos see if they already have a viable replacement.
Among the players that the Broncos signed as undrafted free agents this offseason was George Aston. He is a rookie that Broncos observers should keep extra attention on, as his performance could control Janovich’s future in Denver.
If Aston does not remain with the Broncos in any capacity, extension talks with Janovich should ramp up. Should he prove to provide comparable contribution to Janovich at a much cheaper price to what I’ve outlined above, then it becomes evident to let Janovich walk in unrestricted free agency. The tougher question is if Aston’s play is clearly inferior to Janovich now, but he still makes the practice squad. That scenario, which could be a likely one, could put both sides in a wait and see mode as Aston continues to strive to improve while on the practice squad in 2019.