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.
As the Broncos move into the offseason a little sooner than planned, we now know they will pick 28th overall in the upcoming NFL draft.
Denver has six picks, with either a sixth- or seventh-rounder heading to Philadelphia to complete the 2011 trade for Brodrick Bunkley.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Last week, we took what we thought was a very early peek at Denver's cap situation for 2013, and the players due to become free agents.
Unfortunately, we were only days premature - not weeks - and it's already time to think about 2013 in earnest.
To review, Denver's pending unrestricted free agents are Ryan Clady, Brandon Stokley, Kevin Vickerson, Justin Bannan, Jim Leonhard, Keith Brooking, David Bruton, Dan Koppen, Jason Hunter, Tracy Porter, Ty Warren, and Matthew Willis.
The Broncos will have a three-day period from March 9-11 to negotiate exclusively toward new contracts with these players, whose 2012 deals will expire at 4pm on Tuesday, March 12, which is also precisely when the 2013 league year and free agency will commence.
While the Broncos are among eight teams whose seasons are still ongoing, the other 24 franchises are busy figuring out their front office and roster situations. Even as the team preps for Saturday's showdown with the Ravens, we figure it's never a bad time to look at the cap and salary circumstances for next year.
According to John Clayton, Denver is carrying over $11.5M in cap space over from the 2012 season, which in concert with their $7M in 2013 headway will give the team $18.5M in space. The Broncos could easily create more wiggle room by negotiating new deals with or releasing any of D.J. Williams ($6M salary), Joe Mays ($4M), Matt Prater ($2.5M), and Caleb Hanie ($1.25M).
The Broncos have signed G Justin Boren and WR Gerell Robinson to future contracts today.
Robinson had been with the team in training camp as an undrafted free agent out of Arizona State, where he was a teammate of Brock Osweiler and Omar Bolden, and was on Arizona's practice squad this season. Boren has spent the past two seasons on the practice squads of Baltimore and Detroit after playing his college ball at Ohio State.
The two players will join the team following the Super Bowl.
Following a season during which he faced the unenviable task of blocking for a player who used the entire 160-foot width of the field as his pocket, Ryan Clady received the ultimate gift in the form of Peyton Manning last March.
By choosing not to accept the reported $28M in guarantees offered him by Denver over the summer, he set himself up for an even bigger prize.
At the least, Clady figures to receive the Broncos' franchise tag, which will provide him with $9.66M in guaranteed salary, which is more than a $6M bump up from his 2012 salary of $3.5M.
Broncos starting right guard Chris Kuper again missed practice Friday and is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game against Cleveland; it would be the third consecutive game he's missed due to injury, and the ninth in total.
According to John Fox, Kuper continues to be hindered by scar tissue in his surgically-repaired ankle, and is also dealing with migraine problems. Manny Ramirez will again start in his place; Peyton Manning has taken just two sacks with Kuper in the lineup, but 19 with Ramirez starting.
The Broncos have added tackle Paul Cornick to their practice squad; he replaces Darrion Weems, who had been signed to Dallas's active roster five days ago.
Cornick had signed with the LOLJets as an undrafted free agent out of North Dakota State, where he was named an All-American following his senior season.
As expected, the Broncos announced the signing today of running back Jacob Hester, formerly of the Chargers. They also brought Jeremiah Johnson back to the practice squad, as had been reported over the weekend.
Hester (5-11, 235) is a fifth-year player out of LSU who was taken by San Diego with the 69th-overall pick in the 2008 Draft. He started 23 of the 62 games he played for the Chargers, accumulating 319 yards and one touchdown on 94 rushes, plus 308 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 55 catches.
Jay Glazer is reporting that the Broncos will place running back Willis McGahee on season-ending IR today.
Although there had been reports that the 31-year-old would be able to recover from his torn MCL and leg fracture in time for the playoffs, the team has obviously given up on that possibility.
Mike Klis reports that the move has not yet been finalized, and that Denver may designate McGahee as eligible to return. Adam Schefter is reporting that the decision has been made, and that the back could be back in time for the AFC Championship game, should Denver make it that far. Lindsay Jones has gotten confirmation of that from Denver PR man Patrick Smythe.