Just one NFL game at center was apparently enough for the Broncos to lock up Manny Ramirez through the 2015 season.
Granted, that game featured perhaps the toughest assignment Ramirez will face all year, in Ravens NT Haloti Ngata. And while Ngata was credited by PFF with two QB hurries, neither of them came at the expense of Ramirez, who had a clean grade sheet in his positional debut.
The 30-year-old Texas Tech alum is currently making $815K this season ($100K more than the minimum for his experience level) and had been due to reach unrestricted free agency at year's end.
During the 2014 and 2015 seasons, the minimums due a player of Ramirez's experience will be $855K and $870K, respectively ($1.725M total). We're wildly guessing that Denver gave Manny somewhere between $2.5M and $3M over that period, with perhaps $1M guaranteed.
Denver's other centers - J.D. Walton, Dan Koppen, and Steve Vallos - are each scheduled to become unrestricted free agents after this season.
Walton is currently on the Broncos' PUP list, and at best, he'll return to action in late October or early November, at which point he'll be trying to either win back his starting job or prove he's worth giving another chance in 2014.
It was Walton's ankle injury that first gave Ramirez the opportunity to work in the offseason as Peyton Manning's center, and an infection discovered in June kept Walton sidelined. So while many (us, especially) kept waiting for someone to unseat Manny - Koppen, Walton, Ryan Lilja - it's yet to have happened, and as Doc noted yesterday, Ramirez figures only to improve from here.
It remains to be seen whether Ramirez can hold up as a starting center, but if he does, the Broncos will be covered at the position for another couple of years, while Walton perhaps hopes for a chance to win back his job at some point.