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.
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.