KUSA - Donald Stephenson agreed to restructure his contract, a transaction that greatly enhances the offensive tackle’s chances of sticking with the Denver Broncos in 2017.
The team’s starting right tackle last year, Stephenson essentially lost that job when the Broncos signed free-agent Menelik Watson away from the Oakland Raiders on Friday.
But the Broncos still value Stephenson’s athleticism and versatility and worked out a compromise. After making $6 million in signing bonus and salary last year through the leverage of free agency, Stephenson was scheduled to have his $4 million salary guaranteed against injury on Monday.
Instead, Stephenson will now receive a $2 million full guarantee, with the other $2 million to become guaranteed if he makes the Broncos’ 53-man roster.
The final year of his contract – a non-guaranteed $4 million salary for the 2018 season – remains intact.
With Watson on the right side, don’t be surprised if Stephenson gets reps at left tackle. The Broncos could get a left tackle in the draft, either with their No. 20 overall pick in the first round or No. 51 selection in the second.
As their roster currently consists, the Broncos have four offensive tackles in Watson, Stephenson, 2015 second-round draft pick Ty Sambrailo and 2014 third-round draft pick Michael Schofield.
Schofield starting 16 games, counting the postseason, at right tackle in 2015 and 16 games at right guard last season.
Sambrailo battled injuries the past two years. He has played left tackle, right guard and right tackle.
The top left tackles in the draft are Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk, Utah’s Garett Bolles and possibly Alabama’s Cam Robinson, who may be more of a right tackle, and possibly Bucknell’s Julie’n Davenport.