Broncos, Clady halt contract talks

According to Mike Klis, the Broncos and the representatives for Ryan Clady agreed to put off talks on a long-term contract until after the 2012 season.

Klis reports the team has not improved upon the contract offer made public a week ago and which included $28M in guarantees.

But as we've noted before, the Broncos have in their corner most of the leverage in this situation. They will pay the left tackle a bargain basement-level $3.5M salary in this final year of his rookie contract, and they will have the option of using their franchise tag on him next offseason. The tag for offensive tackles is worth $9.3M this season, and is unlikely to increase significantly by next year. If the two sides were still unable to agree to a deal after the 2013 season, Denver would have the ability to retain Clady with a 20% raise over that tag value, or $11.16M based upon that current $9.3M figure.

Denver's latest proposal of $28M in guarantees likely covers the first three years' salaries, including a signing bonus, as part of the reported five-year offer. In comparison, having Ryan play out this final year and tagging him for two straight years would pay him about $24M in guaranteed money (but only guaranteed on a year-to-year basis after each tag is tendered and signed).

All the Broncos would really have to gain in signing Clady for the longer term at this point, is to make one of their best players happy and show other players they are willing to do so, not to underestimate the value of those factors.

Meanwhile, Ryan has the chance to give himself 28 million dollars' worth of security - with the risk that a serious injury could hamper his earning power beyond 2012. Barring injury, a drop in his market value would likely only follow a terrible season in terms of performance. 26-year-old left tackles with five years' experience and multiple Pro Bowls to their names aren't exactly commonly available commodoties (Ryan turns 26 in September).

It's practically a given that Denver will use its exclusive franchise tag on him next offseason, so it's unlikely the fifth-year player would get to test the market then. He could hold out next summer, but doing so hasn't appeared to be a profitable endeavor for any tagged players so far this summer, pending the outcomes of the Mike Wallace (Pittsburgh) and Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville) situations.

Ryan Clady has one year and $3.5M remaining on his rookie contract. What should the Broncos do about him long-term?

Clady is eligible for free agency next year, and the franchise tag for tackles is currently at $9.3M for one year. It will likely be incrementally higher than that figure next year. Clady's play has dropped off a bit over the past two years, but he's still only 25 (he'll turn 26 in September) and widely considered as being among the top half of the league's left tackles. The QB switch to the lightning-fast decision-maker Peyton Manning from the scramble-prone Tim Tebow should make Clady's job easier and his performance look better.

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

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