With 17 impending unrestricted free agents, the Denver Broncos are going to have to clear some cap space if they wish to bring back any of their key free agents. We are going to take a look at players the team will look to move on from and players whose contracts exceed their current worth.
Peyton Manning, QB
2016 Cap Hit: $21.5 million
We start with QB. While the team has indicated Manning can take as long as he wants to mull retirement, in actuality, the team is already moving forward without the 18-year veteran in their plans.
Manning, who is set to have a cap hit of $21.5 million, will either retire, or be cut by the team — saving $19 million in cap space. The decision should be simple for Manning. Announce his retirement and ride out on top, a scenario that looked impossible just a few weeks ago.
Louis Vasquez, OG
2016 Cap Hit: $6.75 million
After Manning, we come to Louis Vasquez, who struggled for the Broncos this season in large part due to his ill fit in the zone blocking scheme. With a $6.75 million cap hit in the final year of his deal, Vasquez will likely be cut, saving the team $5.5 million and allowing them to bring in a more scheme-friendly player.
2016 Cap Hit: $4 million
The final cut candidate is Britton Colquitt, although this is one player that may stick with Denver. Prior to the start of the 2015-16 season, Colquitt took a well-deserved pay-cut, stemming from his poor play. That poor play continued during the season, until he had his best game of the year in the Super Bowl.
Colquitt is scheduled to be the 12th-highest paid Bronco with a $4 million cap hit. The team can save $3.25 million by cutting him, although another pay-cut may work for both sides in this case.
Now, we move to players who will likely stay with the team but have their contracts resctructured
Ryan Clady, LT
2016 Cap Hit: $10.1 million
We start with Ryan Clady. Clady, who has missed 36 of the past 55 games, including post-season, has already stated his desire to stay with the Broncos and his willingness to take a pay-cut to do so. Clady is still just 29 and conceivably is one of the better left tackles in football when healthy. The Broncos may offer a short extension that would lower his annual salary and spread out the $10.1 million he is set to make this season.
DeMarcus Ware, OLB
2016 Cap Hit: $11.66 million
DeMarcus Ware joins Clady as a player who is willing to take a pay-cut to stay with the Broncos. Ware loves Denver and still believes he has another good year in the tank before calling it quits.
Ware is also aware of the Broncos free agent situation and is open to returning at a reduced salary if it will help facilitate bringing back a few of his defensive teammates. Ware is well worth what he is scheduled to make, but he is aware of where the team is and what he can do to help.
Aqib Talib, CB
2016 Cap Hit: $9.96 million
The Broncos finish up their restructure/pay-cut conversations with CB Aqib Talib. Talib has been one of the best corners in football since signing with Denver, but he has also been a headache for the team. Talib will be back this upcoming season, but Denver may approach him about restructuring his contract first.
Once the Broncos settle their contract situations with these players, the team will likely have a healthy amount of cap space to retain their key free agents.
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