However, when the 2012 season comes to an end and the 2013 offseason officially begins, it will be back to the business side of the game for Denver's front office, with the salary cap the No. 1 topic of discussion.
Heading into 2013, how do the Broncos stand?
Diving into the Salary Cap
Per Spotrac, the Broncos currently have $113,705,917 invested in current contracts with $5,481,818 in "dead money." For clarity, the term "dead money," often thrown around by league executives, simply means money being paid to a player no longer on the team.
For example, the team signed veteran cornerback Drayton Florence to a one-year contract in May which guaranteed him $1.5 million in salary. A few months later, Florence was cut by the team, making that $1.5 million still owed "dead money" for Denver.
Great job by Florence's agent, poor foresight and money management by Denver's front office.
Of note is the fact that Denver parted ways with former General Manager Brian Xanders in the offeseason, who dealt out his fair share of contracts-gone-bad while in Denver. The team had a "clean up" of sorts in the offseason, also cutting ties with long-time cap manager Mike Bluem, as Denver is reportedly "getting tough" in contract negotiations, hoping to avoid more potential "dead money" situations down the road.
Eliminating "dead money" will be one of the Broncos' biggest salary cap goals moving forward. Signing depending players to contracts that favor the team's best interests will be key.
Underperformers May Become "Cap Cuts" in 2013
The Broncos have a handful of players who are expected to hit the road next offseason, with running back Knowshon Moreno the most notable on the list.
Moreno is will be entering his fifth season in 2013, but the former 2009 first round draft selection has not lived up to his pre-draft hype or contract since arriving in Denver. Battling injuries and lack of production since the 2010 season, Moreno has been a non-factor this season, inactive the last six weeks, Moreno has been a healthy scratch on game days.
The eighth-highest paid player on Denver's 2012 roster ($2,630,750), Moreno is making good money for standing on the sidelines. Expect the team to part ways with the under performing back next offseason.
Miscellaneous Salary Cap Notes
Somewhat surprisingly, quarterback Peyton Manning ($18,000,000) is not Denver's highest paid player. That title goes to two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Elvis Dumervil ($18,948,000), who has recorded six sacks and four forced fumbles this season.
Denver's three other arguably three biggest stars, cornerback Champ Bailey ($11,500,000), left tackle Ryan Clady ($5,829,375) and outside linebacker Von Miller ($4,772,814) rank among the top five paid players on the team.
Heading into 2013, the Broncos are in a good salary cap situation. Although "dead money" has been an issue in the past (cornerback Perrish Cox, who hasn't played in Denver since 2010, was paid $101,000 from the Broncos in 2012), the team has cleaned up their negotiating department and have salary cap money rolling over into next offseason.
At this point, the team's salary cap situation is the last thing on the mind of John Elway and Co.
With the team leading the AFC West at 5-3 and Manning posting phenomenal numbers, the Broncos can afford to focus on the task at hand—getting back to the playoffs, and winning.