As they had done with the contract for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Broncos have pushed some current cap dollars out into the future with their recent restructuring of Peyton Manning's deal.
Instead, Shutdown Corner reports that Manning received a $10M advance ($5M from each of his $20M salaries in 2013 and 2014) that will be treated as a signing bonus and be prorated over the 2013-16 seasons, $2.5M per year.
The net result is a cap savings of $2.5M in 2013 and 2014, and an additional $2.5M cap hit for each of the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Rodgers-Cromartie's deal, a one-year contract masquerading as a two-year deal, had previously pushed $2.1M of dead money onto the Broncos' 2014 salary cap, so this move with Manning essentially compensates for that, and a touch more.
According to Shutdown Corner, Denver now has $9.9M in cap room for 2013, and as we had detailed previously, cutting Joe Mays and Chris Kuper would free up an additional $5M or so under the cap. That both Mays and Kuper are recovering from major injuries has both put off Denver's decision on them (to avoid an injury settlement), while potentially increasing the willingness of those players to accept massive pay cuts (think minimum salaries), but that's another story.
Why would the Broncos do this, and why now?
It's not like Denver is going to sign another $9.9 million dollars' worth of new free agents this year, or anything close to that. The way the Charles Woodson story is playing out, it's looking like adding the matchup safety would only cost the team around $2M or $3M in 2013 cap money, and they already have more than enough space to cover that. Any other additions would likely be at the minimum salary level.
The most obvious reason for this move is that next offseason, a slew of key players are scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency, including Ryan Clady, Eric Decker, Wesley Woodyard, Zane Beadles, J.D. Walton, and Britton Colquitt, barring long-term extensions for any of them.
And therein lies the most probable motivation for freeing up 2013 cap dollars.
Director of player personnel Matt Russell recently acknowledged the team's desire to lock Clady up for the long term, and Mike Klis has reported that the Broncos and Colquitt would discuss an extension sometime this summer.
Additionally, we've suggested that Woodyard would appear a strong candidate for an extension sometime in the next several months. It wouldn't surprise us to see Denver try to extend Decker or Beadles before the regular season is over, but Decker might have to accept a below-market deal for that to occur (Demaryius Thomas will be a UFA the following year, and will command a steeper price than will Decker; how much is Denver willing to spend at wideout?).
There's also the eventuality of a megadeal for Von Miller, although he isn't eligible for a new deal until after the regular season, and the Broncos, in theory, have him under team control at a reasonable cost through the 2017 season.
Is there risk of having that extra $2.5M in cap room go to waste, if the team ends up not extending anyone?
No, because the team can - and surely will - carry over any excess 2013 room to the 2014 cap, which will help re-sign any or all of those aforementioned players.