The Denver Broncos had three contracts that were more important than anything to them heading into the offseason: Von Miller, Malik Jackson and Brock Osweiler. It hasn’t been easy getting any of those deals done so far.
The Super Bowl champions are working on their plans for 2016 without considering Peyton Manning as part of the team. If he won’t retire, they’ll release him. He comes with a cap hit of $21.5 million in 2016, which might be nice and well for a franchise quarterback, but the Broncos are working under the assumption that they won the championship despite of Manning being on the field, and that’s probably not far from the truth. If he doesn’t retire, they’ll cut him, save $19 million in cap space and gladly take the $2.5 million in dead money.
Miller was the contract they wanted to do more than anything, but right now, with Jackson looking like he’s heading towards free agency and Osweiler also difficult to find a price for, it looks like franchise tag for Miller. Being a 3-4 outside linebacker, it should mean around $12.3 million, with Miller probably looking for a long term deal that pays him $14 million a season. Justin Houston is the highest paid 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL, with a $19.1 million cap hit in 2016, unless that deal is reworked.
With the Super Bowl MVP award and 60 sacks through his first five seasons in the NFL for the Broncos, while stating constantly that he wants to stay, it’s hard seeing him going anywhere else, or the Broncos not giving up quite a lot of money in order to keep him. He’s just 26, and with the defense being the key to all their success, they simply can’t afford to let someone like Miller go.
But there are consequences to all of this. Jackson is looking for $14 million a season, which is J.J. Watt kind of money. The Broncos aren’t going to pay him that, offering him around $11 million a season (probably a bit less), which means there’s a big difference between the two teams, and Jackson is going to try and make up for that in the free agency market.
The Broncos do intend to retain Osweiler, but he might also be tempted to test free agency. He’s number three on their list, which is rare when it comes to a franchise quarterback in free agency, but is Osweiler really the guy for them for the next five, six, seven years or maybe more? With quite a few teams looking for a new quarterback to lead them, Osweiler might try and see if anyone is willing to pay him more than the Broncos.