A post-draft look at the Broncos’ cap situation

Before and after last weekend's NFL Draft, it was reported that the Broncos were $8.4M under the salary cap for 2013.

Given the matching info, we'll assume that figure does not factor in Denver's signing of Shaun Phillips, who will count for $1.4M this season, with any potential sack incentives beyond that impacting the 2014 cap.

Since we all know that the addition of Phillips's $1.4M cap number is partially offset by the removal of Duke Ihenacho's $480K figure under the Top-51 offseason accounting rule, that means signing the ex-Charger cost Denver $920K against the cap. That brings them to $7.48M in 2013 cap space as of today.

As for signing rookies, it was reported prior to the draft that Denver would have to allocate a shade over $3.9M for that purpose. But since the team traded down on Saturday and ended up with an extra pick, they will spend a little bit more than had been previously reported - somewhere between $4,099,329 and $4,300,731, to be exact.

This range of rookie signings would bring Denver's cap room to between $3,179,269 and $3,380,671, by higher math.

Sounds a little tight, but as the Phillips signing shows, that's enough room to sign another two or even three veterans.

Joe Mays

Of course, the Broncos are far from done in terms of clearing out space, as we were just discussing with our pal Joe Mays.

Whenever Denver gives up on its pipe dream of acquiring something in return for Joe, they will pay him his $500K in guaranteed compensation for 2013 (leaving $833,334 in dead money) and send him on his way.

On its own, cutting Mays will free up $3,333,333, offset by adding Ihenacho and his $480K figure back in, bringing Denver to between $6,032,602 and $6,234,004.

Chris Kuper

Ever since the Louis Vasquez acquisition, it's been our expectation that Chris Kuper is on his way out, along with his $4.5M salary for 2013.

If that's his fate, Denver would be left with $2,745,502 in dead money, and a pre-51 Rule savings of $2,669,664. Another $480K player (Mario Butler, Sealver Siliga, Trindon Holliday, or Jeremiah Johnson) would be added back to the cap number, for a net gain of $2,189,664, to between $8,222,266 and $8,423,668.

Other Potential Cuts

Ignoring the Top-51 rule, here is the amount to be gained by cutting any of the following players, in decreasing order of how likely we think such a move is to occur:

  • Lance Ball - $1.323M
  • Jacob Hester - $715K
  • Willis McGahee - $2M
  • Andre Caldwell - $900K
  • Chris Clark - $1.323M
  • Stewart Bradley - $900K
  • Manny Ramirez - $815K
  • Knowshon Moreno - $945K

All other perceived likely cuts (Julius Thomas, C.J. Davis, etc) would have minimal cap impacts.

Bonuses paid to undrafted rookies also factor against the cap, but that's capped around $75K.

Conclusion

Aside from a day or two during the early stages of free agency in March, the Broncos have not been particularly close to the salary cap.

The inevitable release of Mays will nearly double their room, and cutting Kuper (or getting him to accept a big cut, which we think unlikely) would add a good chunk more.

In other words, the Broncos have plenty of room to do whatever they want (or don't want) to do, including perhaps adding a matchup safety, middle linebacker, or some competition at kicker (a guy can dream, right?).

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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