According to CBS4's Vic Lombardi, the Broncos have gotten serious in their negotiation with Ryan Clady toward a long-term deal. Lombardi reports that the team's latest offer includes $33M in guarantees, which would cover the first three years of a multiyear contract.
If that's $33M in full guarantees - meaning there are no outs for the team, like the one that resulted in Elvis Dumervil's release - then a deal must indeed be getting pretty close, as CBS4 suggests.
Reports from the DP's Mike Klis have varied wildly, pegging the guaranteed portion of Denver's final 2012 offer at $28M last July, and at just $16M more recently.
If the Broncos did indeed offer Clady just $16M in guarantees a year ago, then they were never sincere in those efforts.
But given that the All-Pro left tackle was due a salary of just $3.5M in 2012, and with giant question marks hanging over Peyton Manning's health, and therefore the team's prospects, it was a wise tactic. Denver always knew it had the franchise tag in its pocket for 2013, and even again in 2014, if need be.
This time, Clady has the leverage of his $9.828M tender in hand; were the Broncos to push an extension off until next year, then that would be nearly $10M in guarantees down the tubes, as far as a portion of a longer deal goes.
In other words, they could pay him $9.828M to play out the 2013 season, only to again be faced with the specter of doling out another ~$30M in guarantees a year from now. Instead of guaranteeing his salaries for the 2013 through 2015 seasons, they'd be doing so through 2016, when Clady will turn 30 years old.
The Broncos used their non-exclusive franchise tag on Clady in March, but he has not signed the tender and received no offer sheets from other teams. If the two sides are unable to reach agreement on a long-term deal by 4pm ET on Monday, July 15, then Clady would play out the one-year tender and be a free agent again in 2014.
If Denver wants to keep Clady beyond this year, then now is the time to lock him up.
All indications are that they're about to do exactly that.