ENGLEWOOD—The Broncos will not be cutting Donald Stephenson.
A trade is still possible, although not likely after the offensive tackle agreed to restructure his contract with the Broncos for the second time in five months, league sources told 9News.
Stephenson was to make a $4 million base salary this season -- $2 million of which was fully guaranteed, and $2 million that was not guaranteed. He also had a $4 million non-guaranteed salary for the 2018 season.
Under his new deal, Stephenson took a cut in salary in exchange for an additional $500,000 in guarantee. Stephenson, who is projected as the Broncos’ top backup tackle to starters Garett Bolles and Menelik Watson, will now make a fully guaranteed $2.5 million this year.
He can also make an additional $750,000 with 50 percent playing time and another $750,000 with 70 percent playing time, according to documents filed with the league office. So if Stephenson becomes a starter, he would essentially make his $4 million in 2017.
His $4 million salary for 2018 has been erased.
Stephenson initially signed a three-year, $14 million contract with the Broncos that paid him $6 million in signing bonus and salary last year.
Bothered by a strained calf, he had a rough year. The Broncos restructured his contract on March 12 so that instead of exercising an option that would have guaranteed him a $4 million salary on that date, he accepted a $2 million full guarantee with the other $2 million not guaranteed.
Without the restructure, the Broncos likely would have cut Stephenson without owing him any more money after the $6 million he received in 2016.
Stephenson’s new deal could make him more attractive in the trade market. But if not, it appears the Broncos could make Ty Sambrailo available for trade.
Sambrailo was a second-round draft pick in 2015, but became ravaged by upper body injuries the past two years. Finally allowed to lift weights this offseason, he has gained 15 to 20 pounds of muscle while losing 5 to 6 percent body fat.