Friday, June 21, 2013

Allotting Broncos' 2013 Cap Room to Ryan Clady and Sylvester Williams

Earlier today, the Denver Post's Jeff Legwold confirmed that center Dan Koppen's one-year deal is worth the veteran minimum of $940,000.  That puts Denver's remaining 2013 cap room at around $10,506,000.

Still to be signed by the team are rookie defensive tackle Sylvester Williams and Pro Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady.  At first glance, signing both players and still having cap room to spare sound like a difficult task, but it can easily be accomplished.

Last year, the Broncos were negotiating a contract with Clady in the range of five years and a total value of $50 million, but negotiations stalled and the two sides were unable to strike a deal.  Since then, the market for left tackles has dramatically decreased, as has Clady's value.

In hindsight, Clady and his agent should have jumped to sign for $50 million a year ago.

The Broncos used their one-year, $9.8 million franchise tag on Clady earlier this offseason, but he has refused to sign it, seeking a long-term deal.  Clady will probably get a multi-year contract, but not on his terms.

Denver has the leverage because they do not want to commit to Clady long-term until they see how he performs post-shoulder surgery.  Meanwhile, the franchise tag deadline (July 15) is quickly approaching.

If Clady does not sign by the 15th, he will be forced to either holdout for the entire 2013 season or sign a one-year deal with the team, which is precisely what he and his agent are trying to avoid.  If they are going to get a long-term deal done, they will have to agree to Denver's terms.

Earlier this offseason, Jake Long signed a four-year, $34 million deal with the St. Louis Rams as a free agent.  Clady, much to his chagrin, may end up signing a similar deal.

Long (28, 6'7", 319 pounds) was the first overall pick of the 2008 NFL draft by the Miami Dolphins and started in 74 games for them from 2008-'12, allowing 26 sacks over his first five seasons in the NFL.  Clady (26, 6'6", 315 pounds) was the twelfth overall pick in 2008 and has started in 80 games since then, allowing 26 sacks.

Needless to say, both players are very comparable in measurables and performance.  Below is a look at the deal Long signed with St. Louis, courtesy of

         Cap Hit
     2013 3,000,000 1,250,000 4,250,000
2014 8,000,000 1,250,000 9,250,000
2015 9,250,000 1,250,000 10,500,000
20168,750,000 1,250,000 10,000,000

Long's deal included a small $5 million signing bonus which is paid up front.  However, that bonus (the guaranteed money) does not all count against the cap in Year One.  The league spreads it out to count in $1.25M increments against the cap each season.

So after his base salary of $3M and bonus hit of $1.25M, Long is being paid $4.25M in 2013. Clady and his agent will undoubtedly fight for a larger signing bonus, which may be a deal breaker for both sides.

If the Broncos are able to sign Clady to a contract similar to Long's, they can realistically bank on Clady only counting about $5 million against the cap this fall, leaving $5.5 million still to spend.

Update:  Because Clady's $9.8 million tag is already counting against the cap, signing him to a deal that would include a $5 million cap hit in 2013 would actually save the Broncos $4.2 million, leaving them with over $9 million left, not just over $5 million as stated above.

That's where Williams comes in.  Per the CBA, Williams' signing bonus will be $3,894,000, as it was for Mark Ingram in 2011 and Nick Perry in 2012 (both of those players were selected 28th overall, as was Williams last April).  That will spread out as $973,500 cap hits over a four-year period, in addition to the base salary.

Ingram's contract was worth a total of $7,416,750 in 2011 and Perry's was worth a total of $7,499,250 in 2012.  If Williams sees a similar increase, he will be looking at a contract worth around $7,581,750.

Here's what that could look like over a four-year period:

Cap Hit

If Williams does indeed sign a contract similar to the one laid out above, he will count at just over $1.3M against the cap this season.  If you add that to the $5M calculated for Clady, the team could potentially use $6,373,500 of their remaining 2013 cap space to lock up both Clady and Williams.

That would leave the team with $4,132,500 in remaining cap room.

With that additional space, the team can start the process of extending contracts, perhaps starting with punter Britton Colquitt and finishing off with wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker (and eventually Von Miller), but that's another article for another day.

Once Clady and Williams are signed, the team can increase their $4M+ cap room with several looming veteran cuts.  But again, that's another story for another time.

For now, know that the team can feasibly get both Clady and Williams under contract and still have salary cap room to spare for 2013.