Broncos Expected to Pursue $231 Million QB in Free Agency: Insider

Sean Payton, Denver Broncos

Getty Head coach Sean Payton of the Denver Broncos.

The Denver Broncos have made several significant moves recently, getting themselves in compliance with the NFL salary cap ahead of free agency.

They now sit with $27.2 million in cap space, per Spotrac. That number could increase though.

It’s a lot of change, with three 2023 starters already shown the door: Jerry Jeudy, Justin Simmons, and Russell Wilson. And it is Wilson’s departure that could be the most significant when it comes to the Broncos’ moves this offseason.

The Broncos could enter the running to sign pending Minnesota Vikings free agent Kirk Cousins.

“At this point, it does appear that the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback is going to hit the free agent market on Monday,” NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero said on “NFL Total Access” on March 10. “Other teams I would expect to pursue Cousins do include the Atlanta Falcons and quite possibly the Denver Broncos as well.”

Pelissero began his report by saying the Vikings “remain in communication” with Cousins’ representatives.

The Athletic’s Dianna Russini reported that the team anticipated an answer on March 10. However, she later reported that that had yet to come to fruition as the Vikings remain on standby.

Free agency opens on March 13, when Cousins’ one-year, $35 million contract expires.

However, the Broncos can begin negotiations with Cousins – or any other free agent – starting on March 11.

Pelissero expects Cousins, who has already banked $231.6 million in his career, to command a contract starting at $40 million annually. That would mean the Broncos still have some work to do if they plan to pursue him.

Denver will pay Wilson $39 million in 2024 regardless. They will also absorb an $85 million dead cap hit when they finally release him.

Broncos Have Path to Additional $35 Million in Cap Space

Kirk Cousins, Denver Broncos

GettyKirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings.

In addition to the moves involving Jeudy, Simmons, and Wilson, the Broncos also restructured the contracts of right tackle Mike McGlinchey and wide receiver Tim Patrick.

Re-signing safety P.J. Locke (two years, $7 million) ate into that.

But the Broncos can generate up to an additional $35-plus million by cutting or restructuring the contracts of three players: defensive tackle D.J. Jones, left tackle Garett Bolles, and wide receiver Courtland Sutton.

It makes more sense to restructure Bolles and Sutton, especially if they are to invest heavily in a veteran quarterback like Cousins. He is 35 years old and coming off a torn Achilles.

Denver will need as much additional space as they can muster in any potential pursuit of Cousins.

Broncos Could Face Stiff Competition for Kirk Cousins in Free Agency

Arthur Blank, Denver Broncos

GettyAtlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank.

The Broncos could face strong challengers in Cousins’ incumbent team, the Vikings, and the lurking Falcons in a potential pursuit. There has been mutual interest in his return to Minnesota throughout the process.

Pelissero and Russini both speculated that structure could be at issue in terms of the future guarantees in Cousins’ next contract.

That may not be an issue for Cousins’ other top rumored suitor, the Falcons.

Owner Arthur Blank is rumored to be all for adding the four-time Pro Bowler this offseason, per WSB-TV’s Zach Klein on February 29. The Falcons have the most money readily available to spend in free agency. That is a potentially significant leg up on the eve of the early negotiating period.