Happy Tuesday, friends. As promised, I’m back with Part 2 of my salary cap and free agency primer. Here’s Part 1, in case you missed it. If you did, you missed the homework assignment, so read all the way down and catch up. We’ll wait.
Okay, welcome to the party. There were a lot of good ideas in the comments yesterday, and today, I’m going to describe what I would do if I ran the Broncos. The idea isn’t to reflect what they will do, in other words. It’s intellectually equivalent of my annual Rational Actor Mock Draft, which is months away from being done for 2013.
As you’ll recall from yesterday, the Broncos are now without two starting DTs, a starting and backup MLB, two backup safeties (one a key special teamer), a starting slot WR, a backup WR, a backup CB, and a backup center. (That’s just the unrestricted free agents.) We have $15.5 million of cap room to spend, after we allocate $3 million to the 2013 Draft.
In 2011, the Broncos offensive line had the remarkable fortune of staying healthy enough for all first-teamers to start all 16 games of the regular season.
Unfortunately, the finale of that regular-season slate kicked off a regression to the mean of sorts, as right guard Chris Kuper suffered a gruesome leg injury from which he still has not recovered. Kuper struggled mightily in the playoff loss to Baltimore, and it was announced last week that he would undergo further surgery which kept him from playing in Sunday's Pro Bowl.
Including the playoff game, Kuper started only six games for Denver this season, after having missed only two starts in the prior four seasons combined.
Happy Monday, friends. We’re on the other side of the Pro Bowl now, with only a who-gives-a-damn Super Bowl left to go. For today, I decided to start putting together some salary cap and free agency ideas, so we can all start getting our minds around what’s to come. There’s already a bunch of speculation out there about who the Broncos should sign or trade for, and most of it is silly.
Today, we’re going to be serious, and we’re going to dismiss all of the delusions of grandeur that a lot of fans and reporters have. A football team has to plan for both the short term, as well as the long term, and the long-term planning that the Broncos face doesn’t allow for the big splash signings that get people excited.
Let’s start by doing some math, and by understanding how the Broncos currently sit structurally within the constraints of the salary cap. The cap in 2013 is expected to be around $121 million, and the Broncos currently look like they’ll have $18.5 million at the beginning of the NFL year. It’s easy to think that they can just go out and spend $18.5 million in average annual value on free agents, but it’s not that simple.
The Broncos have signed CB Mario Butler and WR Greg Orton to future contracts, bringing the number of players signed to such deals to ten.
Butler joined Denver's practice squad on October 30, while Orton spent the entire season there after failing to make the team out of camp.
Due to injuries to Patriots guard Logan Mankins and wideout Wes Welker, third-year Broncos Zane Beadles and Demaryius Thomas have been added to the AFC Pro Bowl team for the first time in their careers.
Beadles and Thomas will join Peyton Manning, Elvis Dumervil, Von Miller, and Champ Bailey on the AFC squad, while the Denver staff will coach the team. Ryan Clady was originally selected to the roster but withdrew due to injury.
Following the ascension of Adam Gase to offensive coordinator, the Broncos has hired the well-traveled Greg Knapp to replace him as their quarterbacks coach.
Knapp has had two stints running the Oakland offense, from 2007-08 and in 2012, and he also has served as the offensive coordinator for San Francisco (2001-03), Atlanta (2004-06), and Seattle (2009).
The Raiders fired Knapp and three others on December 31st; the decision was portrayed as a move away from the zone blocking scheme Knapp had installed under head coach Dennis Allen.
Fortunately for Denver - and unfortunately for Tony Carter - the Broncos' surprise starting nickel corner has been ruled an exclusive-rights free agent by the league.
We've written twice about the Broncos' pending free agents, and each time noted that Carter was due for a big raise via unrestricted free agency. This was for two reasons: Rotoworld said Carter would be unrestricted, while the team's official site and NFL.com have maintained Carter was playing in his fourth NFL season in 2012.
Adam Gase will be the new offensive coordinator for the Broncos following the departure of Mike McCoy, who left earlier in the week to become the head coach of the AFCW rival Chargers.
Gase had been the team's quarterbacks coach for two seasons, and was their wide receivers coach for the two years prior to that (2009-10). The team was said to also be considering former Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt for the position.
Said head coach John Fox of the move:
Adam was an integral part of the success we had offensively this season and was heavily involved in all aspects of our game plan, both during the week and on gameday. Maintaining that continuity with our offense was very important in this decision. While we did speak with several qualified candidates, it became clear that Adam was the best fit to be our offensive coordinator.
Two days after some had reported he would be the new coach of the Eagles, Gus Bradley has landed in Jacksonville, where he will replace
Mark Mike Mularkey, who had spent just one year with the Jags after he took over for current Broncos DC Jack Del Rio.
Bradley began his NFL coaching career in 2006 as an assistant with Tampa Bay, where he stayed for three years before taking the Seahawks DC job in 2009.
Well, it's a good thing Chip Kelly didn't go the Bill O'Brien/Nick Saban "I'm the most loyal human in history" route, when he announced he was returning to Oregon.
Because it didn't last long.