KUSA—Sure, the Denver Broncos have money. They also have common sense.
With the opening of NFL free agency Tuesday, the Broncos’ strategy was clearly to spend money to improve portions of their roster, but not to overspend to the point they hurt the overall composition of their team.
The result was the Broncos had a four-year deal in place, at a little more than $8.5 million per year, to sign Dallas Cowboys’ guard Ronald Leary. In doing so, the Broncos passed on Cincinnati guard Kevin Zeitler, who is to receive a five-year deal at $12 million a year from the Cleveland Browns.
The Broncos were also awaiting the Cowboys to release quarterback Tony Romo. The Houston Texans, however, were making an aggressive play for Romo, going so far as to make budget room by trading away quarterback Brock Osweiler and a second-round draft pick to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for Cleveland taking the remaining three years and $51 million remaining on Osweiler’s contract, including $16 million fully guaranteed in 2017.
Houston outbid the Broncos for Osweiler last year. It turns out the Texans lost for winning as Osweiler played poorly. Now the two teams are competing again, this time for Romo.
The Texans are now in position to at least keep up with the Broncos in the bidding for Romo. If the Broncos sign Romo, there were reports they would turn around and trade Trevor Siemian to the New York Jets. However, a Broncos source told 9NEWS the team was not trading Siemian. Then again, if they acquire Romo…
Leary mostly played left guard for the Cowboys, who had what was generally considered the league’s best offensive line in two of the past three years. The Broncos had a need at right guard as they have Max Garcia starting at left guard.
The Broncos haven’t decided which one to flip to the right side, but bet on Garcia, a third-year pro who had played more right guard prior to last season.
Michael Schofield, the Broncos’ starting right guard last season, for now is a backup guard who will compete for the starting right tackle position with Donald Stephenson and Ty Sambrailo.
However, the Broncos were still hoping to sign a left tackle and possibly a right tackle in free agency. The team was also needing a 5-technique defensive end after they were unable to secure Calais Campbell, who signed with Jacksonville, or Chris Baker, who is signing with Tampa Bay.
The Broncos’ toughest bidding war defeat was for Campbell, a hometown hero and 3-4 defensive end. He will sign a four-year contract worth $15 million a year with $30 million in guarantees with the Jaguars, who had twice the salary cap room than did the Broncos.
Denver didn’t make an offer to Campbell until Wednesday night – after he was close to an agreement with Jacksonville. Denver’s offer to Campbell was around $13 million per year, per a source, with about $6 million less in guarantees. Campbell and his wife took a few hours to consider playing in Denver, where he was a three-sport star at Denver South High School. But playing at home can be a distraction, too.
Campbell also benefits from Florida having no state income tax, a savings of about $1 million over the next three years.