The Denver Broncos have signed the bulk of their draft picks and officially added multiple undrafted players, thus their cap space for 2022 is mostly realized.
The Broncos currently have $12.6 million in cap space, with fourth-rounders Damarri Mathis and Eyioma Uwzurike as the only draft picks who haven't signed their contracts, but their cap hits will be minimal at this time because the top-51 cutoff is in effect. So when they sign their deals, other players will be pushed underneath the cutoff.
Of course, once the Broncos set their 53-man roster, fill the practice squad and make any necessary moves to injured reserve, all players will count toward the cap. Still, the Broncos should have enough space available to get them through the year.
Some may look at 2023 and notice that the Broncos are projected to have just $6.7M in cap space. However, there is some context needed here.
First, the cap space doesn't yet include any adjustments, such as carryover from 2022 or incentives that players may earn this year. The current 2023 number is based on a base cap of $225M, but takes no other factors into account.
Second, there will always be players whom teams will release for cap or other reasons. Such moves will give the Broncos additional cap space and allow them to either extend players they wish to keep or sign other free agents.
Let's look at some moves the Broncos could potentially make either this or next season that would make a difference when it comes to cap space.
Potential Cuts in 2022 & 2023
Potential Cut: Mike Purcell | DL
He's been brought up multiple times but it bears repeating: Purcell doesn't have the flexibility to move around on the defensive line, which means he leads the list of players who could be cut to clear cap space.
In Purcell's case, he's the one most likely to be cut in 2022. Cutting him after June 1 would save $3.5M in cap space. Regardless of whether or not he makes the 2022 roster, he's certain to be cut in 2023, when the Broncos would save $3.5M as well.
Potential Cut: Graham Glasgow | IOL
While Glasgow's renegotiated deal that reduced his salary to $3.1M plus incentives means he's likely making the 2022 roster, there are no guarantees he'll stay in 2023. Cutting him next year would save $11M in cap space.
However, it's possible the Broncos could trade Glasgow if they feel comfortable with other players. Not only would that open up cap space for 2023, but the Broncos would gain $3.1M in cap space in 2022 because the acquiring team would take his base salary.
Potential Cut: Ronald Darby | CB
He's almost certain to be with the Broncos this season because of his $9.5M fully guaranteed base salary. 2023 is a different story, though, because his full guarantees run out next year.
Cutting Darby would save the Broncos $10M in cap space. However, Darby could stick around if he impresses in 2022 — or perhaps he agrees to renegotiate his deal to free some cap space.
Potential Trades in 2022
Trades are most likely to involve players who would have to go through waivers. Teams are often willing to give up Day 3 draft picks to avoid the risk of another team claiming the player.
Any player who has accrued three or fewer seasons is subject to waivers. Let's look at a few possibilities.
Potential Trade: Malik Reed | OLB
As others have pointed out, nothing is guaranteed with Reed, even though he got a right of first refusal restricted free agent tender. And even after he signed the tender, his money isn't guaranteed.
It's possible he's waived, but it's also possible somebody would send a late-round pick for him. Either way, that's $2.43M in cap space freed.
Potential Trade: Dalton Risner | IOL
It appears likely the Broncos will keep Risner, but the performance of other players during training camp and the preseason could change that.
Because Risner has a lot of starting experience, it shouldn't be difficult to trade him if the Broncos go that route. Trading him saves $2.79M in cap space.
Potential Trade: Lloyd Cushenberry III | IOL
Though the third-year player is penciled in as the starting center, that could change during training camp and the preseason. It's not out of the question that the Broncos could acquire a late-round pick in a trade for him.
Should it come to that, the Broncos would free a little more than $1M in cap space in 2022 and in 2023. While not a lot of space, little amounts do add up.
One shouldn't fret about the Broncos cap situation as it stands for 2023. Moves will happen both this and next year that will change the outlook, helping the Broncos gain cap space and allowing them to make other moves.
Among the moves I've mentioned, Purcell is the most likely cut to happen this year, while Glasgow is likely happening next year. As for trades, Reed might hold some value, even if it's just for a seventh-round pick.
For now, though, Broncos fans shouldn't worry too much about the salary cap. The main focus will be who impresses in the offseason and makes the final roster. At that point, cap matters should take care of themselves.
Follow Bob on Twitter @BobMorrisSports.
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