Elway Addresses Broncos' Timeline for Deciding on Garett Bolles' Fifth-Year Option
The Denver Broncos have a big decision to make on starting left tackle Garett Bolles. As the team's 2017 first-round pick, Bolles received a standardized four-year rookie contract with a fifth-year team option.
The Broncos have the prerogative of exercising that fifth-year option, but in so doing, the team would have to take the third through 25th-highest salaries at the offensive tackle position around the league and average it out to pay Bolles in year five, which would represent a significant pay-raise, even if for just that year. Bolles is scheduled to make $1.969M this coming year with his base salary, which is relative peanuts for a starting-caliber left tackle.
The other deciding factor comes down to timing. Bolles is heading into his fourth season but the Broncos only have until May 3 to officially exercise the fifth-year option on his contract. And according to a report from Ryan O'Halloran of the Denver Post, GM John Elway plans on waiting until the 11th hour to decide.
"We’ll wait," Elway told O'Halloran. "There’s no sense doing it early. We’re not going to do it until May. We’ll see when we get there where we are."
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Traditionally, the Broncos have waited until May when they've exercised a fifth-year option on a player, like in the case of former first-round CB Bradley Roby. Elway's right. There is no rush to decide on Bolles.
Meanwhile, the Broncos have a lot of time to investigate whether there are better left tackle options out there they'd want to pursue for 2021. The 2020 NFL Draft class could offer up an upgrade, as could the free-agent class.
Bolles' first three years in the league have been marred by mental lapses and penalties. Bolles has been among the league's most-penalized players in each of his three NFL seasons.
It was no different in 2019, however, there was evidence to suggest that Bolles has begun to turn the corner. According to Pro Football Focus, from Week 13 until the end of the regular season, Bolles was the second-highest graded tackle in the NFL.
PFF was particularly impressed with Bolles' performance in the Broncos' Week 16 victory over the Detroit Lions wherein he finished with the highest game grade of any offensive player for the Broncos last season with a 93.6 grade. Despite his obvious improvement as both a pass and run-blocker down the stretch, he was still good for that one face-palming penalty per game.
However, the Broncos have to consider strongly the possibility that the worst is finally behind Bolles and that in tandem with Mike Munchak continuing to tutor him, he might be on his way to becoming an upper-echelon left tackle worthy of his draft pedigree. Whether the Broncos decide to exercise his fifth-year option or not, one thing is nearly certain; Bolles will be the team's starting left tackle in 2020.
Take that to the bank.