Clady would have been an unrestricted free agent, but will be back to protect Peyton Manning.
Elway is very confident in Clady based on his performance during the 2012 season and is hoping to continue contract extension talks that were halted prior to last season.
Last year, the Broncos used their tag on kicker Matt Prater and later secured him to a four-year contract extension. If Clady gets the franchise tag this year, his pay would increase to $9.66 million in 2013. As always, there are pros and cons to using a franchise tag.
- Proven Production: Since being drafted in 2008, Ryan Clady is a two-time All Pro and three-time Pro Bowler in five seasons. He has also never missed a game.
- Youth: At 26 years old, Ryan Clady is in his prime and will only improve as he gets more comfortable in Peyton Manning's offense.
- Bounces back quickly from injury: Clady had major knee surgery before the 2010 season, but bounced back fast and didn't miss a game. He also suffered a rotator cuff injury at the end of the 2012 season and just had surgery to repair the damage. He is expected to be ready for training camp.
- One of the best left tackles in the NFL: He only allowed one sack in the regular season. ONE! That's an incredible statistic that makes Clady deserving of the franchise tag and a long-term contract extension. Clady will be protecting the most fragile asset the Denver Broncos have: Peyton Manning.
- Coming off shoulder surgery: Although it's a pro that he can bounce back quickly, shoulder surgery couldn't have come at a worse time for Clady. Clady is asking to be paid in the same bracket as others in his position. Although he has had wonderful production in the past five years, there is no guarantee he will be 100 percent at the beginning of the season and back to normal production.
- Less money for free agency: If Ryan Clady accepts the franchise tag, he will make $9.6 million, which would leave $12-15 million for free agency deals. Applying the franchise tag to Clady would leave less money to secure pieces in free agency that could take the Broncos to the Super Bowl in 2013.
Overall, I think the pros of applying the franchise tag to Ryan Clady outweigh the cons. Clady has said recently he doesn't plan on signing the tender "right now," but hopes to work something out prior to camp. The Broncos should definitely offer Clady the tag and a long-term deal so they can lock him up for years to come.
The health and future of Peyton Manning depend on Ryan Clady.