If you try to play hardball with John Elway, he will call your bluff, replace you and move on.
This is seemingly what has happened to Ryan Clady, after being unwilling to take the pay-cut the Denver Broncos were asking for, after spending nearly two seasons on injured reserve. In response, Elway has signed Pro Bowl LT Russell Okung to a five-year deal that could be worth up to $53 million.
The Broncos will look to trade Clady who has reportedly drawn interest from multiple teams. The 49ers, Giants and Seahawks may all be interested, all of whom were also interested in Okung. The interesting team in this equation is San Francisco, as they currently have a player under contract that John Elway is interested in acquiring.
Okung prioritized a visit to Denver over other opportunities and now finds himself in a system that fits his skill-set well, to go along with a contract he felt he deserved from the start, as Okung chose to represent himself this offseason.
He does come to Denver with his own injury issues, but the Broncos were comfortable with his status as evidenced by the contract he received. Okung has allowed the fewest sacks (20.0) in the NFL among tackles who have started at least half of their team’s games in each season since 2010.
Okung anchored a Seattle offensive line that helped the team rank second in the NFL with 135.2 rushing yards per game from 2010-15. With the questions the Broncos have at quarterback, the running game will be even more vital moving forward.
For Denver, the signing brings stability to the offensive line, which will line up differently from the Super Bowl squad.
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