While we learned earlier today the Broncos are making a push to keep Malik Jackson off the free agent market, they haven’t been as proactive with Brock Osweiler. Mike Klis of 9News reports the Super Bowl champions are waiting on beginning negotiations with the fifth-year quarterback “out of respect” for Peyton Manning‘s decision on whether to retire or return for a 19th season.
Manning’s $19MM salary becomes guaranteed if he’s on the Broncos’ roster on March 9, so talks with Osweiler should be commencing soon, as only second-year player Trevor Siemian is the only other quarterback on Denver’s roster. Klis notes the sides could begin talking at the NFL Scouting Combine, which starts Feb. 23.
The Broncos will likely have to offer more than $9MM per season to keep Osweiler and either approach — or surpass — the $12.5MM AAV deal Nick Foles is signed to in order to keep their longtime backup off the free agent market. Osweiler’s small work sample and a quarterback-starved market have created a wide range of contract expectations for him. Klis set that range at anywhere from $11MM to $17MM annually and for the pact to be between three and five years.
Denver could possess nearly $27MM in cap room if Manning decides to retire.
Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kirk Cousins and Chase Daniel are the notable signal-callers looming as unrestricted free agents that quarterback-needy teams like the Texans, Jets and Rams could also pursue if they in fact hit the market. Cousins and Washington don’t have much common ground as of yet.
Here’s more news coming out of Denver.
- Von Miller and the Broncos haven’t engaged in talks yet, according to Klis. They are expected to place the franchise tag, estimated to be worth around $14MM for 2016 for linebackers, on the sixth-year edge-rusher and can negotiate with Miller on a long-term extension until July 15. Klis expects Miller to command more than Justin Houston‘s $16.83MM AAV and perhaps exceed Ndamukong Suh‘s $19.06 annual average after dominating in the Broncos’ championship-cementing contests.
- DeMarcus Ware could be a potential cap casualty as the Broncos prepare to keep their top-tier free agents, and the Denver Post’s Woody Paige expects the team to move on from the stellar pass-rushing presence. Ware collected two sacks in Super Bowl 50 and 3.5 in the playoffs for the Broncos, but the four-time first-team All-Pro will be 34 when they convene for training camp. Entering the final season of his three-year, $30MM deal, Ware is slated to occupy $11.66MM of Denver’s salary cap. He missed five games this season with a back injury but booked his ninth Pro Bowl honor. The Broncos have cheaper options behind Ware in Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray, although neither are on Ware’s level at this point.
- The Broncos also have decisions ahead regarding their offensive line, with two 2015 starters, Evan Mathis and Ryan Harris, set for free agency. Paige expects Ryan Clady, who missed 2015 with a torn ACL and said he’d be willing to restructure his contract that’s set to pay him $9.5MM in base salary this coming season, to be back at a lower price but for Louis Vasquez to be released. Denver’s starting right guard the past three seasons and a first-team All-Pro in 2013, Vasquez is entering the final year of his contract and is due to take up $6.75MM of the Broncos’ cap in ’16. Moving into Gary Kubiak‘s zone-blocking system, Vasquez struggled at points last season, rating 50th among guards on Pro Football Focus’ grading scale. Max Garcia, who spelled both Mathis and Vasquez as a rookie, will start at left guard next season, according to Klis, who believes Vasquez will be back at right guard.
- If the Broncos retain Jackson, they won’t enough money to retain Danny Trevathan, Klis writes in the same piece. He expects the versatile linebacker to sign a deal that pays Trevathan between $5MM and $7MM yearly. Trevathan started throughout the 2013 and ’15 seasons for the Broncos, playing outside in John Fox‘s 4-3 scheme and inside in Wade Phillips‘ 3-4. A sixth-round pick of the Fox-led Broncos’ in 2012, Trevathan expects to receive interest from the Bears.