The Broncos have been active in free agency and have the cap space to do even more.
The Denver Broncos have a two-year window to win a Super Bowl with Peyton Manning, and they know it. Even though Manning’s contract eats up 16 percent of the salary cap in 2013, the Broncos have plenty of resources to put pieces around him.
Despite being the best team in the AFC in the regular season in 2012, the Broncos had plenty of needs to address. The Broncos needed to add a cornerback, middle linebacker, right guard, running back and other quality depth.
The limiting factor in the NFL is often not a desire to win, but the salary cap. In 2013, the salary cap is $123 million and the Broncos rolled over $14.1 million of their unused cap space from 2012. In total, the Broncos have a maximum of $137.1 million to spend on player contracts.
After releasing linebacker D.J. Williams at the start of free agency, the Broncos had about $122 million committed in player contracts in 2013. The difference of about $15 million was the free cap space at the start of free agency, but additional salary cap space can easily be created by releasing players or restructuring contracts.
Approximate Salary Cap Space at the Start of Free Agency: $14.9 million*
Current Approximate Salary Cap Space: $8.8 million*
*Approximate salary cap space is based on data compiled by spotrac.com, overthecap.com and the average per year salary of reported contract signings. Actual salary cap space will be updated when available.
The Broncos' first big move was to sign right guard Louis Vasquez.
The Broncos signed right guard Louis Vasquez to a four-year, $23.5 million contract with $13 million guaranteed according to Mike Garafolo of USA Today.
Approximate 2013 Cap Hit: $5.9 million*
The Broncos signed linebacker Stewart Bradley to a one-year, $1.1 million with a $200,000 signing bonus according to Mike Garafolo of USA Today. Mike Klis of the Denver Post reports the deal is worth $1.2 million.
2013 Cap Hit: $1.1 million
The Broncos signed defensive tackle Terrance Knighton to a two-year, $4.5 million contract according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post. He received a $500,000 bonus according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.
Approximate 2013 Cap Hit: $2.25 million*
The Broncos signed receiver Wes Welker to a two-year, $12 million contract with a $4 million bonus and $2 million in base salary in the first year of his deal and a $3 million bonus and $3 million salary in the second year of his deal according to Michelle Beisner of NFL Network. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports Welker will get $150,000 in incentives each year he catches 90 passes.
2013 Cap Hit: $6 million
However, because Dumervil's revised contract was not filed in time according to Mike Klis of theDenver Post, the team released him to avoid guaranteeing him $12 million in 2013. The Broncos save more $4.75 million in cap space than they would have under the restructured contract, but they also have lost Dumervil for the time being.
2013 Cap Savings: $8.75 million
*Approximate cap hit is based on yearly average of new contract and is considered a very rough estimate.
The Broncos are in a tough spot with star defensive end Elvis Dumervil.
By Friday at 4 p.m. EDT, the Broncos have to make a decision on what to do with defensive end Elvis Dumervil. It seems that the Broncos are leaning toward releasing the star defensive end in order to save over $8 million in cap space, because he will not take a pay cut.
John Elway made one final plea to Dumervil (via Mike Klis of the Denver Post). Elway told Klis that he has to “do what's best” for the Broncos even if he hates having to ask Dumervil to take a pay cut. Elway described Dumervil’s contract as “way out of whack” when compared to the market rate for defensive ends, so it doesn’t sound like the Broncos are going to budge on the pay cut demand.
The Broncos would save $8.8 million in cap space by releasing Dumervil according to spotrac.com, which is plenty of money to replace him and add other free agents. The Broncos reportedly have interest in Dwight Freeney and Richard Seymour, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.
Update: Dumervil agreed to take the pay cut, but the revised contract was not filed with the league on time. The Broncos released Dumervil and will now have to re-sign him to keep him in 2013.
The Broncos could also save $3.4 million by releasing linebacker Joe Mays, $2.7 million by releasing guard Chris Kuper and $2 million by releasing Willis McGahee according to spotrac.com. These cuts, combined with the release of Dumervil, could clear about $17 million in additional cap space for the Broncos.
The Broncos could gain cap space by signing Ryan Clady to a long-term contract. Clady received the franchise tag, which is worth $9.8 million guaranteed and counts against the salary cap in 2013. Considering that the Broncos don’t typically use signing bonuses and that Clady wants north of $10 million per year, it seems unlikely that the team will save much by exploring this avenue.