On This Day:
10/27/13

Former
Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan brought his Washington Redskins to
Denver and left with a 45-21 loss.

Peyton
Manning finished the day 30/44 with 354 yards and 4 touchdown passes, spreading
them out to Knowshon Moreno(35), Wes Welker (6), Demaryius Thomas(35), and Joel
Dreessen (1).

Manning was also called for his first holding penalty of his illustrious
career.

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/201310270den.htm

On This Day:
10/5/14

At
times, the NFL scheduling department mysteriously sets up some near perfect
moments.  Entering the game Peyton
Manning was sitting on 499 touchdown passes. On the opposing sideline he found
the Arizona Cardinals coached by his former quarterbacks coach Bruce Arians,
and the man that designed a very high percentage of those 499 touchdown passes,
former offensive coordinator Tom Moore.

It
was fitting that they were in the house to view #500, a 7 yard pass to Julius
Thomas, unfortunately for them, they also viewed #’s 501, 502 and 503 as the
Broncos defeated the Cardinals 41-20.

Manning finished the game 31/47 with a career high 479 yards passing with each
Thomas, Demaryius(31, 86) and Julius(7,12) hauling in touchdown passes.

Oh
how I wish Arians and Moore were on the Broncos sideline to celebrate the
moment.

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/201410050den.htm

Demaryius, Julius and the Salary Cap

I’ve seen some discussions and people worried about losing either of these guys due to the announcement that the Broncos will not sign either during the season.(which might mean that there will be an announcement of an extension at any point in time, and I’m only half joking).

If the key to real estate is location, location location, the key to salary cap management is structure, structure, structure. 

I’m not worried about losing either one unless they are simply asking for too much in the eyes of John Elway.  At that point, then they might price themselves out of Denver, but I don’t see that happening.

The last figures I saw on cap space from the NFLPA had the Broncos 13.6 under the current cap.

If the cap increases between a modest 5%, or a more likely 10 % the starting cap space will be have a range of 139 & change to 146 & change. If they can carry over 10 million from this year that moves it to 149-156. 

Overthecap.com (the best online cap resource) has 108 million on the books for ‘15 so far, so based on the asssumptions above, that would give 41-48 million to play with. 

Von Miller is on the books at 9.7. They could easily sign him to an extension that could reduce his cap hit to the 5-6 range, creating 3-4 more million in space.

If Peyton Manning were to decided that he wanted to play longer than the 2 years he has remaining on his contract, then could find immediate savings by extending him a year or two as well. 

Those would be the two easiest sources to create cap space if needed for the 2015 season, but with an estimated 41-48 to play with it might not be needed, though I still find it sound to extend Von Miller after this season.

Demaryius Thomas

He’s one of the top receivers in the league and there are some pretty expensive contracts out there like Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald and some questionable deals like Percy Harvin and Mike Wallace. Eyes will also be looking to Dallas to see how/when they extend Dez Bryant. Demaryius has earned his payday and as long as the first year is in the 10-13 range it won’t be a horrible contract for the team.  Johnson signed a 7 year deal in 2012, and restructured in ’13. That’s the beauty of these contracts is that more times than not they can be restructured in any given year to create space for a team. Ben Roethlisberger and Larry Fitzgerald are examples of this and unfortunately, when you restructure you’re pushing cap dollars into the future to create space in the current year. It happens. Any guaranteed $ will count at some point.

The current franchise tag for Wide Receivers was 12.3 million so number next year that could be used on D.Thomas would be a bit higher than that.  It went up to 12.3 from 10.5 the previous year. So any deal that they can sign where his cap # is lower than or similar to that would be a decent one. 

Julius Thomas

His agent might attempt go the Jimmy Graham route and argue he is more WR than TE, and they will likely analyze where he lined up and how many times he lined up in various spots like they did with Graham in determining that he actually was a tight end. The TE tag in ’14 was $7 million up from $6 million in 13, so tagging one vs. the other would show that JT can be tagged for less than DT.   Graham ended up signing a 4 year 40 million dollar deal that gave him a 2014 cap hit of 4 million which was beneficial to his team, so the structure of a JT/DT contract will help dictate what amount of that 41-48 million would be left for Chris Harris, or other players Terrance Knighton, Jacob Tamme, Wes Welker, Brandon Marshall and a host of others.

A team might come along and flash money at a player that the Broncos aren’t willing to spend, and that could happen.

But for the most part, I’m not worried about losing either Thomas, Harris and or Knighton, unless someone grossly overpays for them.  If that happens then so be it, you move on and go shopping elsewhere a lot like Eric Decker and Emmanuel Sanders, or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Aqib Talib.

It will be interesting to say the least.

References for those that have more interest in the subject.

This [Demaryius] Thomas kid might be as good a receiver as there is in the league and by the way you’ve got the best slot receiver in [Wes] Welker, [Emmanuel] Sanders is second in the league in catches. The good news is this [Julius] Thomas kid has only got 19 touchdowns since last season. Really a group that’s struggling. It’s a joke; they’re loaded offensively.

Rex Ryan, New York Jets Head Coach on the Broncos weapons

Did Clady really ‘chop block’ Campbell in Sundays’ game. Didn’t really see the aftermath, but heard about the Cardinal’s Coach ‘quacking’ about the unsportsmanlike behavior. Thanks. Broncos keep it clean.

I haven’t had the time to go back and take a closer look at it. For it to be a chop block, Clady would have likely been the one holding Campbell up and Thomas, “chopping” him. That doesn’t seem the case.  There seems to be some confusion by either Thomas/Clady on their assignment for that play. It is perfectly legal to cut a guys legs(what Thomas did), as long as he isn’t engaged by another player.

The Denver Post addresses the issue in greater detail here and provides samples from the NFL case book/rule book. 

Here is video break down of it from the NFL VP of officiating. 

Thomas is still relatively new to the game of football; blocking isn’t his best asset, and it wasn’t like a grizzled vet like Shannon Sharpe or Jason Witten making the play. I simply think they weren’t on the same play and what happened was the end result. 

I honestly can’t blame Bruce Arians for talking about, it wanting a fine/suspension. If he has it made up in his mind that it was intentional, nothing can be done to change that. I’ve seen a lot of Denver fans(not you) bashing him and telling him to shut up(not in that kind of terms), but you get it. If the same play would have happened to Ware/Miller the Broncos fan base would be up in arms about the Cardinals players chopping/cutting 94/58. 

Thank you for the question.

Q&A Wednesday

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Thanks again for all that have/will participate.