Who would replace Clady? Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Now that Denver has gone the non-exclusive route to tag Ryan Clady (as we'd suggested they do), it's time to start considering potential replacements for the unlikely scenario in which another team signs him away.

Denver would receive two first-round picks as compensation, should they choose not to match an offer sheet from another team. At this point, only Washington lacks a first-rounder, so a Shanny and Clady reunion is not a possibility (Shanny could trade for a first-rounder, but he already has a fine tackle in Trent Williams, anyway).

Bengals right tackle Andre Smith will surely reach free agency, as Cincy opted to use its tag on DE Michael Johnson, while New England is not expected to tag right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, whom Ted saw as a left tackle just a couple of years ago.

FWIW, Smith tied Clady for the fourth-best grade among tackles in 2012 according to PFF (+26.9), while Vollmer ranked 13th (+21.5). Both Smith and Vollmer allowed far more sacks and hurries than Clady did, but that can partially be explained by the Manning factor (less so in Vollmer's case, since the guy he blocks for is pretty good)

Word is that Smith is seeking around $9M per year, but he won't get that to play on the right side. So he's presumably looking for a left tackle gig somewhere.

Kansas City LT Brandon Albert (+13.8), Detroit RT Gosder Cherilus (+23.4), Minnesota RT Phil Loadholt (+15.8), Miami LT Jake Long (-0.4), Eagles LT King Dunlap (+6.6), and Falcons LT Sam Baker (+11.6) are also due to be unrestricted free agents.

That's not to say all (or any, for that matter) of these players would make sense as replacements for Clady, and of course, the breadth of the tackle market makes it that much less likely a team would willingly part with two first-rounders for the right to sign him.

But before dismissing the idea due to the perceived talent dropoff - and it's hard to know just how much the Peyton factor would help any of these players - keep in mind we're talking about adding one of them for less than Clady is seeking, and piling two first-round picks on top of it all.

Broncos

Not much new here, but John Elway sat down with Rich Eisen to discuss the state of the Broncos (video).

Andrew Mason surveys the free agent safety market and mocks North Carolina DT Sylvester Williams to Denver.

Obviously, we disagree with Brent New's thinking that Denver should replace Rahim Moore based upon a single game, and Champ Bailey based upon his 2012 performance, and we'll stress that Elvis didn't make anywhere close to $19M last season. He made $14M, and counted $15.623M against the cap.

News

As he continues to occupy his alternate reality world, Manti Te'o claims no teams asked him about his sexuality at the combine, and not convincingly: "No, I don’t think that’s a question they asked." He doesn't think they asked that, folks. More tellingly, Te'o says his mindset at this point is to "Avoid. Avoid a lot of the stuff." You know, like avoid honestly answering questions from the press...

The Chargers have several candidates to have their contracts reworked, but so far, the team is focused on cutting the cap numbers of players below Philip Rivers and Eric Weddle on the totem pole.

Atlanta listed their release of RB Michael Turner as having been prompted by a failed physical.

NFLPA president and old friend Domonique Foxworth thinks the NFL is ready to embrace an openly gay player, and he rightly characterizes it as a civil rights issue; Browns LB Scott Fujita agrees.

Analysis

As Mike Florio points out, about $4M of cap space must be set aside for signing draft picks, plus about that much for restricted free agents. In Denver's case, we figure restricted tenders will go to Britton Colquitt (Mike Klis says he'll get a second-round tender, which is for $2.023M), Tony Carter ($715K), and Mitch Unrein (likely $480K). It's hard to imagine the Broncos see Lance Ball and Chris Clark worthy of original round tenders and their corresponding $1.323M salaries.

Ben Shpigel recommends the LOLJets wait on trading Darrelle Revis, but that could mean pushing off draft pick compensation to 2014 instead of this April, and the time value of that should not be understated.

Chris Brown wonders if the success of the Andy Reid/Alex Smith marriage will depend upon Reid's offense becoming simpler; Jason Whitlock thinks Smith is a better acquisition than the Chiefs' prior QB imports, while Trent Dilfer, Herm Edwards, and Rich Gannon think Smith will help the team be competitive immediately; Scott Kacsmar chronicles KC's long, sad history of quarterback procurements.

Mockery

Michigan State RB Le'Veon Bell, who made news when he said he was asked about his sexuality at the combine, is an ideal fit for Denver, and the top RB prospect in the draft, as Bucky Brooks sees it.

After NFL.com faked us out a few days ago, here's Mike Mayock's updated list of the top five prospects at each position, for real.

Gil Brandt says Georgia LB Jarvis Jones and QB Matt Barkley lead the list of players who need strong pro day performances to revive their draft stock.

Doug Farrar analyzes Oregon State WR Markus Wheaton and Georgia defensive lineman John Jenkins, whose name confuses the hell out of me, thanks to the ex-Vandy sharpshooter.

Miscellany

Chase Stuart's trivia for today concerns the last QB to enter the HOF as a non-first ballot selection.

The KSK crew picks more entertaining (and far more useful) combine events

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

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