Ronald Leary told me on Thursday that he was joining the Denver Broncos under the terms of a four-year contract I believe is worth $36 million, including more $20 million guaranteed.
“It is,’’ Leary says, “a beautiful day. “I’m almost speechless. I’m blessed. I’m ready.’’
Leary was a stalwart in the Dallas offensive line, giving up playing time to young La’el Collins only because of Collins’ promise, not because Leary was ever anything but solid.
In 2012, the Cowboys signed Leary as an undrafted free agent, with the unusual addition of $200,000 guaranteed. That was needed to lure him here, because teams knew of his talents despite a knee condition many feared was chronic.
It’s never been a problem … and Leary fitting in with All-Pro teammates like Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin was never a problem, either. His run blocking helped pave the way for DeMarco Murray’s franchise-record 1,845 rushing yards in 2014 and helped Ezekiel Elliott to an MVP-level year in 2016 as the rookie won the NFL rushing crown with 1,631 yards.
Leary will fortify the Denver offensive line … and maybe the Broncos’ acquisition of Romo will follow, sources in Denver having told me they will “go hard’’ after the Dallas QB if he’s released. (Of course, first we have to go through the process -- or pretense -- of Dallas owner Jerry Jones trying to trade Romo, and the risk of ruffled feathers here. Click here for that insight.)
Leary professes to know nothing about that. This week is about taking care of his business and his family. Same goes for his teammate Doug Free, who sources told me two weeks ago was considering retirement and has now officially informed his bosses of that. (Click here for the full ramifications of Free's departure.)
Leary on Free: "He was the leader of our room. And like a brother to me for five years. He's going to be hard to replace for the Cowboys, but I respect the hell out of him. He had a lot of ball left in him. I wish him nothing but the best in the next chapter in his life.''
What might that next chapter be? "A lot of hunting and fishing, I bet,'' Leary says of Free. "And he's gonna love it.''
Meanwhile, Leary has plenty of football to play ... now in Denver.
“I’m full of positive emotions right now,’’ Leary tells me … all part of his “beautiful day.’’