As had long been expected, the Broncos applied their non-exclusive franchise tag to pending unrestricted free agent wideout Demaryius Thomas just ahead of Monday's deadline.
The accompanying tender is worth $12.823M and will count against Denver's cap space immediately, even before Thomas signs the one-year deal. Denver and Thomas now have until 4pm ET on Wednesday, July 15 to agree to a multiyear contract. Once past this deadline, the two sides cannot execute a long-term deal until after the conclusion of the 2015 regular season.
A non-exclusive tag allows Thomas the freedom to sign an offer sheet with another team, but the Broncos would have the opportunity to match, known as a right of first refusal.
As expected, the Cowboys applied their $12.823M franchise tag on wideout Dez Bryant, who is forever linked with Denver's Demaryius Thomas.
In 2010, the Broncos took Demaryius two picks prior to Dallas's selection of Bryant; there was much debate at the time over whether Denver had chosen the right wideout. Denver has just more than two hours to use their tag on Thomas.
The NFL has announced an official salary cap of $143.28M for the 2015 season; the cap was $133M in 2014.
Denver is expected to apply its franchise tag to Demaryius Thomas by the 4pm ET deadline; the accompanying tender will amount to $12.823M. Based upon the cap space estimates at OTC, the Broncos will be left with $16.856M in room as soon as Demaryius is tendered.
According to Adam Schefter, the Chiefs are the first team to use their franchise tag ahead of today's 4pm ET deadline, applying it to linebacker Justin Houston. Based upon a $143M cap, Houston's tender is for $13.169M.
Saddled with one of the league's worst cap situations, KC recently cut TE Anthony Fasano and wideouts Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins to help their cause. Among their other pending free agents are center Rodney Hudson and former Denver draftee Ryan Harris, both of whom have been linked to the Broncos in recent speculation.
Free agent tight end/fullback James Casey visited Dove Valley on Thursday but left without a contract, according to Mike Klis. Casey spent his first four NFL seasons with Houston under Gary Kubiak, but was released a week ago by the Eagles, who would have owed him a $4M salary.
Already scheduled to visit with Tennessee, Arizona, and Cleveland, Casey added stops in Washington, Cincy, and Jacksonville to his free agency tour.
Judge David Doty has sided with the NFLPA in its lawsuit on behalf of Adrian Peterson, and the Vikings running back may soon be reinstated. However, the NFL has placed Peterson back on the Commissioner's Exempt List and will appeal the decision. Earlier in the day, it was reported that Peterson had been reinstated, but that is not the case.
These players are all able to sign with any team and get a jump on free agency, which begins at 4pm ET on Tuesday, March 10.
The Broncos and Peyton Manning's agent are working on a restructure of the quarterback's contract, according to Mike Klis. The two sides reportedly hope to have an agreement on a revised deal by sometime next week.
Manning is due to draw a $19M salary and count for $21.5M against the salary cap in each of the next two seasons. For reasons explained here by Joel Corry and Jason Fitzgerald, it's highly unlikely that Peyton would agree to a net pay cut, as he holds all of the leverage in this situation.
Predictably, the Broncos will meet with free agent fullback/tight end James Casey (6-3, 240) on Thursday, according to Mike Klis. A native of Texas, spent his first four NFL seasons playing for Gary Kubiak in Houston, was released by the Eagles last week.
Casey could fill multiple needs for the Broncos, who currently have no fullback and only one tight end under contract, in Dominique Jones.
Brandon Marshall is scheduled to become an exclusive rights free agent, IAOFM has confirmed through a reliable source. This means that Denver will be able to tender Marshall a one-year deal at a salary of $585K, and the linebacker will not be free to negotiate with any other teams, unless the Broncos inexplicably choose not to tender him.
Obviously, there's no chance of Denver dumping its leading tackler, so for all intents and purposes, Marshall is not going to reach free agency this offseason, and will be a restricted free agent in 2016.