I've been seeing a lot of threads and comments asking about how the Broncos have so much cap as well as a lot of comments accusing us of selling out our future to win now. So I put together a FAQ to clear up these questions. If I've got anything wrong or you have another question reply below or PM me and I'll check it out.
How do the Broncos have so much cap space?
The Broncos had roughly $17 Million in cap space heading out of last season which was due to a large number of players they let walk this offseason, big cap hits being Woodyard ($3.25m), DRC ($2.9m), Ayers ($2.2m), Moreno ($3.3m), Lenon and Decker (Both $1.5m) and a few others at around the $1m mark.*
Then on top of this cutting Champ Bailey and Chris Kuper retiring freeing up $15 million between them.
This left the Broncos with $32 Million in cap space for this free agency.
* Note the above numbers are the players 2013 cap hits so there might still be dead money for some this year, the $17 Million is what the team had available after taking dead money and such like into account.
So the Broncos are nearly done this free agency right?
The Broncos currently have two back up TE’s, Dreessen and Tamme, who are currently eating up $5.5m total of cap space with only $1.1m of potential dead money. Expect these guys to be cut if the team decides to grab someone else this free agency.
Surely the Broncos are selling out the future to win now? There’s no way they can re-sign any of their big names up next year.
The Broncos next year have a lot of big names needing re-signed. At a quick glance that is Demaryius Thomas, Von Miller, Terrance Knighton, Julius Thomas, Rahim Moore, Wes Welker, Orlando Franklin, and Kevin Vickerson. Now not all of these are must signs and not necessarily everyone will be re-signed.
Out of them expect only D. Thomas and Knighton to be getting big contracts. Julius Thomas broke out this year and will be expected to do well in 2014 and this will most likely help him get a good but probably not a huge contract. Moore, Franklin and Vickerson will also most likely get good contracts but don’t have quite the impact to demand a huge contract, they are also the players the Broncos probably let walk if they think they can get bigger contracts from others. Wes Welker with his age and history of concussions is generally expected to retire but might stay around on a cheaper 'I love football' contract. Von Miller has a 5th year option meaning he will be costing roughly between $8-9 million which is only a small pay rise over his current contract.
Now all those contracts above are going to combine to be a hefty chunk of change so how do the Broncos afford these especially after the big name signings this Free Agency.
Firstly before any signings this FA the total money the Broncos had locked up next offseason was $61 Million leaving them with $72 Million free cap space. The new signings this FA hit the cap as so Talib - $7m, Ward - $7.75m and Ware $8.6m. Leaving the Broncos with $48.65 million in cap space to re-sign all the players they need to. This is also before any increase to the cap space that might happen.
On top of this Manning is going to retire soon he has 1 maybe 2 seasons left to play and when he retires he instantly clears up $20 million in cap space and will be, as it currently stands, replaced by Brock Osweiler who will be either still on his rookie contract or signing a fairly low contract as he will be yet to prove himself.
This means that if Manning retires after the 2014 season the Broncos are currently going into the next offseason with $68 Million cap space, more than double what they entered with this year and after Talib, Ware and Ward are accounted for. And if Manning doesn’t retire this year he will retire the year after meaning the team can load contracts quite heavily towards that year.
How is it possible that the Broncos keep having so much cap space?
Very simply it’s a combination of rookie contracts, 1 year contracts we can drop with no dead money and most importantly while a lot of teams backload contracts or split the dead money across the whole contract via signing bonuses the Broncos frontload their contracts when they have cap space and stay away from signing bonuses, instead preferring roster bonuses which are only guaranteed provided the player starts the season on the roster. This is roughly the difference between saving your money before spending vs buying things now on credit and trying to play catch up with the payments.
Fitzgerald,J; Korte,N. (2014). Denver Broncos 2014 Salary Cap. Available: http://overthecap.com/teamcap.php?Te...ncos&Year=2014
. Last accessed 17/3/2014. Fitzgerald,J; Korte,N. (2014). Denver Broncos 2015 Salary Cap. Available: http://overthecap.com/teamcap.php?Te...ncos&Year=2015
. Last accessed 17/3/2014. Fitzgerald,J; Korte,N. (2014). Denver Broncos Free Agents. Available: http://overthecap.com/futurefreeagents.php?Team=Broncos
. Last accessed 17/3/2014. Lee,D. (2014). A crude guesstimate on Denver’s current cap space.Available: http://www.itsalloverfatman.com/bron...rent-cap-space
. Last accessed 17/3/2014.
edit: Had Champ Bailey as retiring when he was cut.
Quick further note on sources the www.itsalloverfatman.com
article is a great summary of this and next seasons situations but it's estimates on how the Ward, Talib and Ware contracts breakdown are exactly that estimates and are solely a product of that article being written before the information was released. Note the article is titled A crude guesstimate on Denver’s current cap space for a reason.
All cap numbers came from Over the Cap which does it's best to be as accurate as possible. Jason Fitzgerald talks about the accuracy of the data a bit here http://overthecap.com/sample-page/