In just three years John Elway played the role of GM behind the scenes for the Denver Broncos, now he gets the title. Elway has impressed many with his free agent signings and arguably excellent draft decisions. His ability to lead has taken the Broncos to three straight AFC West division crowns as well as three playoff appearances and one Super Bowl.
With the new season on the horizon, the Broncos and Elway will have some tough decisions to make regarding it’s personnel. With that in mind lets see what a Monday Morning GM does with the current Denver roster.
1. Re-sign Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
The current free agent market for cornerbacks clearly favors the players. Brandon Carr of Dallas inked a deal worth $10 million per year for 5 years in 2012. In 2011, Johnathan Joseph from the Houston Texans managed a salary of $48.7 million at $9.7 million per year. Of course lets not forget about the highest paid CB in the NFL, Darelle Revis. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers parted with $16 million after agreeing to non-guaranteed contract with the ex-Jet corner.
I don’t expect Cromarte to break the bank this year but his contract will probably be somewhere around Johnathan Josephs neiborhood, somewhere around $9 million. The Broncos will have no choice to retain his services as he is still young and plays at a high level.
Now according to overthecap.com, the Broncos are estimated to have around $12.7 million in salary cap space. That is with out any cuts or restructuring of contracts. This means that they will only have $4 million available bring us to:
2. Roster Cuts and Restructuring
Champ Bailey received $10 million from the Broncos last year. Most of last year Bailey was just doing anything he could to get healthy, meaning his time was very limited and certainly not worth the millions. When he did play however he made an impact on the field but yet he is not someone to be considered a “shut down corner”. Paying him $10 million would be like paying that to backups, nickel corners, or even the number 2. The point is that time finally caught up with him and he is just not the same player he used to be.
With that said, he can certainly be an effective player and if the Broncos do decide to keep him, they will most likely move him to the safety slot. The key here, they must work out a deal at a very reduced rate. Bringing him back at close to the veterans minimum would free up around $9 million in cap space.
Another candidate to look at for restructuring or even cutting will be guard Kris Kuper. After his injury back in 2011 he just hasn’t been the same. Currently he is serviceable but a solid back up. The Broncos do value him as a leader in the team but he will be asked to take the veterans minimum or hit the road. If the choose to keep him, restructuring will be certain and the savings will be $4 million.
$13 million so far….
Now the tough ones come into play. Joel Dressel and Jacob Tamme are scheduled to make $2.5 million and $3 million respectively. Dressen was very productive in 2012 with 42 receptions 5 touchdowns and 356 yards. Dressen is better than average blocker and is a solid receiver. In 2013 he was injured during training camp and once he was healthy, his impact was at best minimal. Chances are he will be a cap casualty being that Virgil Green has rendered him obsolete.
Tamme on the other hand is an excellent receiver and the obvious Manning favorite, but Pro Bowl TE, Julius Thomas made it difficult for him to get on the field. Now, if it was me making the decision, i probably would not cut Tamme but would pressure him to take a cut in pay by at least half to somewhere around $1.5 million per year.
To recap, cutting Dreessen and restructuring Tamme would add another $5 million to the cap bringing the total to $18 million.
3. So Long Eric Decker
An unrestricted free agent, Decker and Manning have accumulated 172 receptions for 2,352 yards and 24 TD’s. Not bad for a 3rd round Minnesota selection.
With a resume like that, Decker will be looking to make $10 million a year and even though he stated that he will like to remain a Bronco, chances are that he will be wearing a different uniform in 2014. Demaryius Thomas has a contract coming up at the end of 2014 and that leaves no room to pay Decker what he wants, not to mention Bey Bey is just a physical talent that Decker is not.
Replacing Decker should be easy with all the options available. The Eagles, Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper are both set to hit the open market. Other options in the free agent market include, Kenny Britt, Hakeem Nicks, and James Jones, plus others.
4. Re-sign Knowshon Moreno
Some people underestimate the value Moreno brings to the Broncos offense and Payton Manning, but it is clear that manning loves the guy. He has the perfect skill set to use the backfield just like Manning wants. An intense runner and authoritative off the snap. Soft hands that make him an excellent receiver but can also pick up the blitz with the best of them.
He is now entering free agency and having drafted Montee Ball last year one could think that his days are numbered as a Bronco. Personally, i doubt he will be let go as Manning really likes the guy. There is a chance that some desperate team out there will offer him $4-$5 million a year but i feel like Denver will re-sign him for around $3 million and stay for as long as Manning is behind center.
5. Bye Bye Woodyard
I know, i know….this will be a highly unpopular thing to do but with Danny Trevathan waiting in the wings and Woodyard decline over the years, it’s time to part ways. Yes, he was a team captain in 2013 but at the same time he was relegated to being a backup to Paris Lenon.
Woodyard was thrusted into the position of MLB last season when Stewart Bradly went down with an injury during the pre-season and Nate Irvin just didn’t have what it took to take over. Woodyards natural position is the Will (weak side). At that position he had a pro-bowl caliber season in 2012 with 100 tackles 3 interceptions and 5 sacks. It is just plain obvious that paling the Mike position just doesn’t suit him so what do you do? Danny Trevathan is much better so the only other option is to re-sign him for depth and play nickel LB. Let’s just say good by to the old workhorse.
With the restructuring the cap savings are significant, freeing up space to use on player like Shaun Phillips or even go after a pass rusher to bookend Von Miller. Other possibilities will be a ball hawking safety or even a good Mike linebacker who is younger than 37, heck maybe even a replacement receiver for Decker. With all these choices and opportunities around it should be interesting to see how the newly* appointed GM will handle it.