Skip to main content

Analyzing the Broncos' Salary Cap Situation Ahead of Training Camp

Money matters.

I’ve talked several times about how the Denver Broncos are in good shape from a salary cap perspective and will have roster flexibility for the coming seasons, provided things work out with the majority of their offseason transactions.

Pro Football Focus analyst Brad Spielberger, who has previously written for Over the Cap, reflected my views in his ranking of teams based on a three-year analysis of the salary cap situation for all NFL teams.

Spielberger ranked the teams based on the number of players under rookie contracts (active draft capital), projected effective cap space for the next three years, total prorated money, and the total valuation of the top 51 players (excluding 2022 draft picks) and 2023 free agent projections.

The Broncos check in at No. 13, down from the top overall ranking last season.

What happens next on the Broncos? Don't miss out on any news and analysis! Please take a second, sign up for our free newsletter, and get breaking Broncos news delivered to your inbox daily!

A key reason why Doesn't rank as high as they did is because they acquired quarterback Russell Wilson in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks. That trade sent a first- and second-round pick to the Seahawks, meaning the Broncos had two fewer picks this year to acquire players on cost-controlled contracts.

But, as Spielberger wrote, the Broncos still maintained cap health for the next couple of seasons. He added that the most impressive move they might have made was getting wide receivers Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick signed to below-market deals when 12 other receivers signed deals for more per year in the following months.

Whether the Broncos can continue to keep players at below-market deals remains to be seen. Not only will the club have to think about an extension for Wilson after the 2022 season, but they must decide the fates of outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, offensive lineman Dalton Risner, and defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

However, the Broncos will have 56 players under contract for 2022 before any cuts may be made. We have mentioned previously that OL Graham Glasgow and DL Mike Purcell may be cut after the 2022 season — that is, unless they're cut or traded after this year’s training camp.

And while the Broncos don’t have first- or second-round picks in 2023, the team will still have a host of players under cost-controlled deals under contract next season.

The hope is that wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler, cornerback Michael Ojemudia, center Lloyd Cushenberry, DL McTelvin Agim, and tight end Albert Okwuegbanum can increase their contributions this season. If they do, they will remain with the organization for 2023. The Broncos can exercise the fifth-year option in Jeudy’s contract while keeping an eye on the others to determine who might be retained after next season.

Then there’s the 2021 draft class, in which the likes of CB Patrick Surtain II, running back Javonte Williams, OL Quinn Meinerz, LB Baron Browning, safety Caden Sterns and OLB Jonathon Cooper have all given fans hope to become key parts of the roster in the coming years. If so, the Broncos will benefit from three more years of cost-controlled deals.

If the Broncos get enough contributions from those draft classes, plus a couple of players emerge from the 2022 draft class, they will have more than enough talent to supplement players on veteran contracts and, thus, be in a good position until 2024, when the Broncos will again have first- and second-round choices.

Even so, the Broncos should be able to add a free agent or two in 2023, even after making any decisions about their own pending free agents. They won’t be able to splurge, but they should be able to do enough to fill holes.

Having that future flexibility is important. It’s easy to fall for the temptation to make another big move, particularly after other AFC teams made big moves after the Broncos’ trade for Wilson.

But the smart thing to do is be patient. Wilson needs to be considered the one all-in move the Broncos could do right now. They, along with fans, should know to wait and see how the team comes together in 2022 before going “all in” again.