Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady placed a pretty big bet on himself by turning down extension overtures from the team last summer, leaving him to risk the possibility of injury before landing a big contract from Denver or someone else.
The bet wound up working pretty well. The Broncos won the AFC West and Clady was selected for the Pro Bowl because of the way he protected Peyton Manning over the course of the season. He didn’t totally avoid injury, though. Clady needed shoulder surgery after the end of the season, forcing him to miss the Pro Bowl and possibly increasing the likelihood that he’ll have to wait a little longer for a long-term deal.
Mike Klis of the Denver Post writes that the shoulder surgery makes it “more likely” that the Broncos use the franchise tag on Clady this offseason. That doesn’t mean that the two sides wouldn’t wind up coming to a longer agreement, but Klis suggests the Broncos will take a wait-and-see approach with Clady, who has also had major knee surgery during his career, coming off the operation on his shoulder.
If he played under the franchise tag, Clady would make $9.66 million. That’s likely a bit less than he could command as a free agent, but the Broncos could still find a long-term deal easier to swallow because it would likely make for a smaller cap hit in the short term.
There doesn’t seem to be much chance Clady leaves Denver. The question of how his return is structured will be one the Broncos ponder long and hard in the coming weeks.