One of the more underrated members of the No-Fly Zone, Roby is still operating on his rookie deal, which paid him the relatively low sum of $1,018,072 for last season. Without giving it much scrutiny, Denver is getting a high level of play at a tremendous discount.
Much akin to Von Miller’s contract a few seasons back, Roby is coming up on the deadline for the Denver Broncos to exercise his fifth-year option — a prerogative awarded to all NFL teams on players selected in the first round.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1770638-valuing-draft-position-gr... If the Broncos were to go down that road and extend Roby's contract for one more year, the team would be on the hook for an estimated $8,026,000 million. With two All-Pros starting ahead of Roby, Denver finds itself in a tough position.
Free agency is great for the have-nots of the league but it forces good teams like Denver to carefully construct their roster after the core of the franchise has been locked up contractually. Given the fact that it’s impossible to pay and keep everyone, is Roby’s contract situation forcing the Broncos to let him test the free-agent waters a year from now, or do the Broncos need to keep Roby in the fold for this season and longer?
The Broncos are quickly approaching the May 3 deadline to decide, so let's go through the pros and cons of picking up Roby's fifth-year option.
For “only” being the third cornerback, Roby has solidified himself as one of the best young defensive backs in the game. Essentially playing a starter's role on defense, Roby has racked up 143 tackles, five interceptions and 31 passes defended, in addition to taking three of those turnovers back for scores (two interceptions and a fumble).
As dynamic as the No-Fly Zone has been, it’s top-heavy at the corner spots. It’s doesn’t get much better than Chris Harris, Jr., Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby on any team in the league but after those three names, the roster is surprisingly thin with only Tulane youngsters, Lorenzo Doss and Taurean Nixon, on the roster.
When the injury bug struck in the middle of last season and forced those two into action, it became painfully obvious why they hadn’t merited more playing time, as both were exploited in a Week 9 loss to Oakland.
Keeping Roby around beyond 2017 allows Denver to shore up its defensive line in the draft this year, while also giving the club more time to look into signing him long-term. Having too many good cover-men is a luxury few around the league have and it’s hard to see John Elway willing to part with Roby.
Roby is as integral to the defense as Harris or Talib. One of the biggest strengths of the Broncos defensive unit is the ability to match up against wideouts and tight ends one-on-one and allow pass rushers like Von Miller and Shane Ray to get after opposing quarterbacks. Letting go of a productive player on the brink of his prime doesn’t make sense.
There has been little in Roby’s on-field performance that would lend itself to the idea of letting him test free agency next year. With that in mind, the team owes $21.3 million to Harris and Talib for this season alone.
To take that even further, with safety Darian Stewart signing an extension last season, the Broncos have a considerable amount of money invested in just the secondary alone.
If Denver decides not to extend Roby's option, they could find his replacement in this year's draft class, because next year's crop of cornerbacks may not be as deep. With Denver's only glaring hole at left tackle and there not being a tackle prospect worthy of pick 20, taking a corner this year is a better choice in terms of value and dollars.
If you look at Roby’s body of work as a whole, you can make the case that it would be crazy not to throw money at him to keep him in a Denver uniform. However, Roby probably had his most uneven season last year.
In the home win vs. San Diego, Roby gave us a glimpse of just how good he could be when he took a Philip Rivers pass back for a score, to go along with seven total tackles.
It’s equally troubling that Roby didn’t record a single stop in losses to the Titans, Patriots and Chiefs to end the year — crushing defeats that took Denver out of the playoff hunt. In the Week 12 loss to the Chiefs especially, Roby looked disinterested and lethargic, frequently caught out of position or simply looking bored.
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With so much on the line and a united team effort needed to lock down the last playoff spot, it didn’t look great for Roby to have his worst games of the season.
It feels like Denver is being punished for scooping Roby where they did and having him turn out to be a very good football player. They are in the tough spot of either paying him a considerable amount of money for what amounts to a one-year rental in 2018, or risk losing him for nothing in free agency. Such is the burden of teams who draft well.
With a dearth of quality cornerbacks on the market, Roby is set to be rewarded handsomely by another team — Denver chooses inaction.
While the May 3rd deadline is still weeks away, the fact that Denver hasn’t spoken publicly on whether they plan to exercise Roby's option should say more about his role next year than the fact they just haven’t chosen to make a move just yet.
Even if it is just for one single season, Denver can’t let a player like Bradley Roby get away from them. Look for Denver to exercise their option this year with an eye towards a long-term extension next season.
Adam Uribes is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @auribes37.