Rosterbation

Fat Camp: Ryan Clady and the franchise tag

It's widely expected that the Broncos will use their franchise tag on All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady this offseason. But what exactly does that mean?

Let's go over the details, including the most basic:

What is a franchise tag?

A franchise tag is a restricted tender used by teams to retain their most important unrestricted free agents. Franchise tags can also be used on players who are already deemed restricted free agents, but this doesn't generally happen, as it's not cost-effective.

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Mailbag: Should Robert Ayers be cut?

Happy Sunday, friends.  Once again, the mailbag has yielded a good question.  This is one of those parts of the offseason where nothing is really going on, and where we’re really likely to have time to address good questions, so keep ‘em coming.

Today, from our friend Haiku Boy:

I have an ongoing argument with this contrarian frenemy of mine who keeps insisting they should cut Robert Ayers. I know the cap savings would be minimal (roughly one million) but he points to his lackluster statistics, low defensive snap count, and frankly the fact he was picked by McDaniels.

 Is there any way this will happen, and would there be any way to justify the move? This guy is seriously bugging the crap out of me.

No problem, HB.  The price for the answer is one haiku in the comment section.  Whenever a fan talks about getting rid of a player, for whatever reason, the first question that must be asked and answered is, “Can you get somebody better (or at least at a better value) to fill the guy’s role, and where’s he coming from?”

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Champ Bailey expected back with Broncos

Despite speculation earlier in the week that Champ Bailey might end up a cap casualty, Mike Klis reports that the future HOF corner will be back with the Broncos in 2013.

However, Klis and PFT appear to be incorrect in writing that Champ is scheduled to make $10.5M in his 15th NFL season and 10th with Denver. His base salary was originally worth $9M, but the latest of 12 Pro Bowl selections for the 34-year old triggered a $500K escalator.

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Could the Broncos create more cap room by reworking Peyton Manning’s contract?

Great question today from reader Helge:

Do you guys believe the Broncos should restructure Manning's contract by converting his base salary to bonuses, and push that money into future years (by adding some dummy years at the end of his current contract)?

One downside would be a big dead money hit when Manning retires, but at that point, the next QB would presumably be relatively cheap.

Helge, it's certainly an option, but one that John Elway & Co. have likely been trying to avoid. Since Elway took over, they've done a great job of not dispersing large piles of Pat Bowlen's cash at any one time, and not mortgaging future cap space for anyone - not even the greatest free agent in history. 

So many franchises during the cap era have been undone by pushing cap hits off into the future. Eventually, you have to pay the cap piper, and that's when things can get ugly.

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Lombardi: Broncos could pursue Ed Reed or Steven Jackson

Revisiting talk of Revis to Denver

The 2013 offseason has already gotten rolling, as established defenders Kyle Vanden Bosch (DE, Detroit), Michael Boley (LB, Giants), and Frostee Rucker (DE, Cleveland) were all cut loose today.

Many more veterans figure to be looking for work soon, and Jason La Canfora of CBS thinks a Denver shocker is among the possibilities:

Champ Bailey, Broncos ($9 million plus $1 million roster bonus): Bailey had a brutal time of it in the postseason, the Broncos have emerging young corners and owner Pat Bowlen has had them operating on a tight budget.

It's hard to imagine the Broncos without Bailey, who along with D.J. Williams is the team's longest tenured member, and prior to Peyton Manning's arrival, was the longtime face of the franchise.

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Broncos-style: Why the Dumervil contract is a good one

Happy Tuesday, friends.  Doug mentioned in this morning’s Lard that he and I had discussed Elvis Dumervil, and his associated costs, and I wanted to amplify my thoughts on him.  His cap number of $12.5 million is pretty high for 2013, but since his $12 million salary is fully guaranteed, there should be no doubt that he’ll be a Bronco.

The question is whether he’s properly valued.  Not to spoil the surprise, but I think the answer is yes.  Let’s first talk about the contract Dumervil is working under, which is what I’d call a Broncos-style contract.  They’ve been leading the NFL in moving away from the concept of signing bonuses, and instead going to more of a guaranteed base salary concept, like MLB and the NBA do.

That’s smart from a cash management perspective, because much of the cash inflows that the team receives come during the season, from ticket sales, and concessions, and corporate sponsorships.  I don’t know when the networks and DirecTV pay the NFL, but I think it’s a reasonable assumption that it happens during the season, because that’s when they’re getting cash from their advertisers and (in DTV’s case) subscribers.  By paying out a larger salary during the season, the team times its outflows to match when its inflows are highest.

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You Got Served: 2013 Broncos salary cap and free agency primer - Part 2

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.

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Clady to undergo surgery on right shoulder

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.

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You Got Served: 2013 Broncos salary cap and free agency primer - Part 1

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.

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