The Broncos and left tackle Ryan Clady played beat the clock last week, negotiating a multi-year deal that replaces Clady’s one-year franchise tender of just under $10 million. PFT has obtained a copy of the breakdown of the contract, which hints that the Broncos might keep Clady only as long Peyton Manning is the quarterback.
The deal loads up the cap charge and cash in 2013, with Clady getting a $3 million signing bonus, a $10.5 million roster bonus, and a fully-guaranteed $1.5 million base salary. That equates to a cap number of $12.6 million.
The deal gets more interesting come 2014. Clady’s $8 million base salary is guaranteed for injury only upon signing, and it becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2014 league year. But the contract omits offset language as to the guaranteed payment, which gives the Broncos a strong incentive to reconsider whether Clady’s services are needed (and whether they could sign a cheaper left tackle on the open market) before committing to an $8 million payment that won’t be reduced even if he’s cut and signs elsewhere.
The low signing bonus (relatively speaking) means that the cap charge for cutting Clady after one year would be only $2.4 million.
The Broncos face the same question in 2015, when $8.5 million that is guaranteed for injury only becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the league year — with no offset language. A $1.5 million roster bonus due that same day raises the stakes to $10 million.
Cutting Clady in early 2015 would result in a $1.8 million cap charge.
If, as many suspect, Peyton Manning has only two years left, the Broncos could opt to find a replacement for Clady during the first few days of 2015 free agency at a lower rate — and then to dump Clady and avoid the $10 million.
What’s that, you say? Left tackles rarely hit the open market? That was true, before 2013.
The final two years of the contract have non-guaranteed salaries of $9.5 million and $10 million, respectively, giving the Broncos the entire offseason to make a decision on whether to keep Clady before the payment becomes, as a practical matter, guaranteed as of Week One.
To summarize, Clady may get $15 million for one year (not a bad deal) or $23 million for two years (also not a bad deal). If Peyton Manning is no longer around in 2015, Clady may not see three years, $33 million.
Proving yet again that there’s really no such thing as a long-term deal in the NFL.