Broncos Analyst Suggests Best Move For Remaining Cap Space

Broncos head coach Sean Payton

The Denver Broncos turned a salary cap deficit into a $22.6 million surplus by releasing players and restructuring other contracts. While there are several ways to use that money, The Denver Post’s Parker Gabriel suggests saving most of that money for next season.

“Here’s one path forward: Stuff most of the rest in your pocket and don’t even think about it until 2025,” Gabriel wrote in his March 17 column. “The NFL allows teams to roll cap space over. Denver had been at about $10 million in rollover until having less than $1 million this year.”

Over The Cap reveals that the Broncos have the 11th largest cap space eight days after the 2024 league year started. However, assuming they will use all eight picks, it would take around $4 million to sign their draft picks.

“So, for estimate’s sake, let’s say Denver has $16 million to work with now. They’ll sign more players, though big, splashy contracts at this point would be a surprise. … Take $10 million and treat it as if you’re actually paying down $63 million of (Russell) Wilson’s dead cap rather than $53 million,” Gabriel added.

2 Reasons Saving Most of Their 2024 Cap Space Works to the Broncos’ Favor

GettyBroncos offensive guard Quinn Meinerz

First, letting their extra cap space roll into 2025 gives the Broncos additional cushion to offer contract extensions to their key players. “Save as much of it as you can and spend it next year on mega-extensions for Pat Surtain II and Quinn Meinerz,” Gabriel wrote in the same March 17 article.

After his first three seasons with the Broncos, Surtain II is eligible for a contract extension. His Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro selections give him the leverage to command exponentially more significant money than his $1,055,000 base salary in 2024.

They can keep him for the 2025 season by exercising his $19,802,000 fifth-year option on or before May 2. This option buys them time to finalize a long-term agreement.

Meinerz will play under the final season of his four-year, $4.7 million rookie-scale contract. Spotrac reveals that the former Wisconsin-Whitewater standout played 96.5 percent of the team’s offensive snaps in 2023.

Pro Football Focus gave the offensive guard an impressive 83.7 overall grade and an 88.7 mark in run blocking. As PFF’s Thomas Valentine wrote in his January 25 article, “The Broncos running game averaged just four yards per carry in 2023, but Meinerz was nothing but a positive force for the team. It’s ugly work, but someone has to do it. Meinerz proved there aren’t many who can do it better.”

Second, Denver can use the cap surplus this season to re-sign their 2024 free-agent acquisitions. “Prepare for bigger cap hits from 2023 free-agent additions like Mike McGlinchey, Ben Powers, and Zach Allen. After converting all of their salaries to bonuses for 2024, their combined cap charges this year are a paltry $21.65 million. Currently for 2025, the trio combines to charge $61.03 million,” Gabriel suggested.

Broncos Insider Raises Concern Regarding Surging Salary Cap

GettyBroncos cornerback Pat Surtain II

While the Broncos got some relief when the salary cap ballooned from $224.8 million to $255.4 million, Denver Sports’ Andrew Mason pointed out a grim reality with the substantial increase.

“But here’s the catch: everything becomes more expensive,” Mason shared with co-host Cecil Lammey on the February 24 episode of the “Orange and Blue Today” podcast. “For example, if you start looking at the horizon at Pat Surtain’s eventual contract. … You see that cap rising, quarterback costs rise, every premier player sees their price tag rise.”

As a one-time All-Pro and a two-time Pro Bowler, Surtain deserves to get paid top dollar. Therefore, his contract extension exceeds Jaire Alexander’s $21 million annual average value and trumps Denzel Ward’s five-year, $100.5 million deal with the Cleveland Browns.

Aside from Surtain, who he feels could easily command a $25 million annual salary, Mason urged the Broncos to consider selecting a quarterback in the April 2024 rookie draft. “By the way, quarterbacks get more expensive, which is another reason why you gotta look at the draft and ideally find that cost-control quarterback for the next five years,” he added.

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