Many fans have been taken aback by the dollar amounts in the contracts handed out to Ward, Talib and Ware. The Broncos certainly paid a fair price, but they have set themselves up for a two-year window to win at least one Super Bowl.
However, they did not overpay.
At $23 million, Ward’s total dollar amount is less than half of the $54 million that safety Jairus Byrd received from the New Orleans Saints. Before the start of free agency, Ward and Byrd were considered the top two safeties available. In terms of total dollar amounts, Ward’s deal ranks fourth for all safeties who have been signed in free agency so far.
Talib’s deal has drawn some criticism due to the guaranteed money and the veteran corner’s injury history and off-field incidents. When looking closely at the deal, it shows the Broncos have protected themselves in their hefty investment.
Tom Pelissero of USA Today reports the Broncos have an out in the contract. If Talib doesn’t work out in 2014, the contract could essentially turn into a one-year, $12 million deal. His salary in both 2015 and 2016 are guaranteed for "injury only." Barring a career-ending injury, the Broncos have given themselves an option to move on next offseason.
Like Talib’s deal, the contract (and guaranteed money) for Ware has come under scrutiny as well. Looking over the total dollar amounts for defensive ends signed so far in free agency, he ranks fourth with his $30 million total. With $20 million of that guaranteed, it’s basically a two-year deal for $10 million annually.
That price is fair for what he could potentially bring to the team. His 2013 season saw him nab a career-low six sacks, but that was because he was playing through a painful elbow injury. Ware had offseason surgery on the elbow and should be 100 percent healthy to start this season. The Broncos added an impact player for a premium (but not over-the-top) price.
The Broncos looked into keeping Rodgers-Cromartie, but he didn’t jump at the chance to stay with the team. Denver also was interested in Jared Allen but chose to sign Ware instead. Elway is willing to spend money, but he’s not going to overpay when better value (and better talent) is available.
Known as a salary-cap guru, director of football administration Mike Sullivan has worked his magic again.