The Broncos and Peyton Manning's agent are working on a restructure of the quarterback's contract, according to Mike Klis. The two sides reportedly hope to have an agreement on a revised deal by sometime next week.
Manning is due to draw a $19M salary and count for $21.5M against the salary cap in each of the next two seasons. For reasons explained here by Joel Corry and Jason Fitzgerald, it's highly unlikely that Peyton would agree to a net pay cut, as he holds all of the leverage in this situation.
His 2015 salary becomes guaranteed on March 9, so the Broncos would have to threaten to cut the league's marquee player, and be willing to have him call their bluff. That's pretty clearly a gamble the team isn't going to take, only to have Manning end up in Houston.
Denver has plenty of cap space - $28M if the leaguewide cap is $143M - so it would be a tough sell that they're hurting for room, especially since they're not expected to re-sign Julius Thomas, Orlando Franklin, Terrance Knighton, or Rahim Moore. There are other obvious ways for the team to create more cap space, and Peyton doesn't need to accept a pay cut to facilitate that.
As for the wisdom of restructuring now to create more cap space and kick the proverbial can down the road...it's something the Broncos under John Elway and Mike Sullivan have done well to avoid. But here are a couple of arguments in favor of it now:
- The Broncos could enter the new league year with more than $40M in cap space, which would allow them to re-sign Demaryius Thomas, extend Von Miller, and add several big-time free agents. They'd have plenty of room with which to rebuild their offensive line, replace Julius Thomas, Knighton, and Moore, and add a fullback.
- If Denver was going for it in 2014, then they're really going for it in 2015, so it's even more true this year that every bit of room helps
- It appears a lock that Manning will only play for one or two more years, and whoever takes over for him - whether it's Brock Osweiler or someone else - is surely going to carry a much lower cash and cap figure than Peyton. Assumptions like these can make for dangerous caponomics, but unless Andrew Luck is coming to town, then this is a relatively safe bet. Ultimately, there's always risk in mortgaging a team's caponomic future, especially if these moves become habit.