DENVER - Each Tuesday during Denver Broncos' season, our Broncos Insider Mike Klis will answer questions pulled from the Broncos Mailbag.
I'm one of the biggest Brock Osweiler supporters I know. I believe he's a franchise QB, but I'm afraid Cleveland or some other team is going to offer him $15 million a year. Do you think we would be better off with RG3 or Kaepernick while re-signing Von Miller and Malik Jackson and the defense? Or should we fork over the dough for Brock?
John—Fork over the dough for Brock. Fork over the dough for Von. Fork over the dough for Malik. Pay the men!
The Osweiler I know would take a $12 million a year deal to re-sign with the Broncos instead of a $15 million a year deal to go play with Cleveland.
Not that the Broncos should test his loyalty to such a staggering degree. And Osweiler’s agent Jimmy Sexton may warn the Broncos against undercutting Osweiler’s market.
But Osweiler is smart enough to understand there is a greater chance for personal fulfillment and happiness by playing starting quarterback for the defending Super Bowl champions than for a perennial doormat.
Osweiler is sincere when he says he loves his teammates. He loves Denver. He’s the type who would look at the difference between $12 million and $15 million a year this way: If he gets $12 million a year, he’s rich. If he gets $15 million a year, he’s rich. Either way he’s rich. He might as well be rich and happy.
What are the chances the Broncos sign Malik Jackson?
Daniel—This is a tough one but I’m going to give the Broncos a 49 percent chance. The Broncos have made Jackson an offseason priority. They tabled, at least until the NFL Scouting Combine this week, contract negotiations with Von Miller and Osweiler.
The Broncos have only engaged in negotiations with Jackson. Now for the flip side – the Broncos made Jackson their offseason bargaining priority because he’s going to be the most difficult to sign.
He will command anywhere from $11 million to $14 million a year in the open market. The Jacksonville Jaguars covet Jackson and they have an NFL-most $79.8 million in available cap space, according to the Overthecap.com.
That same website says the Broncos only have $8.16 million cap space, or the fifth least.
I said Osweiler would take $12 million from the Broncos before he would take $15 million from the Browns. I’m not sure Jackson takes a $12 million a year deal from the Broncos when he has $14 million a year offers from Jacksonville, Jack Del Rio’s Oakland Raiders or John Fox’s Chicago Bears.
Jackson might, but I don’t know.
Are the Broncos going to move on from Danny T? Thanks for insight Mike.
Daniel Sanchez, Pueblo
Daniel—I think the Broncos will make an attempt to bring back inside linebacker Danny Trevathan. But I think he will be able to test the market first. This is another tough one. I’d put the Broncos chances of re-signing Trevathan at about 30 percent. Not because they don’t want him but because he has a chance to command a nice contract worth $5 million to $7 million a year in the open market. I’d be surprised if the Broncos could offer more than $5 million a year and they wouldn’t be able to do that if they re-sign Jackson.
To show how strong the Denver defense was this season, Trevathan was both its leading tackler and no better than its eighth-best player. I’d put Von Miller, Chris Harris, Aqib Talib, Jackson, Derek Wolfe, T.J. Ward and Brandon Marshall ahead of Trevathan.
When a team can’t sign them all, it has to sign its absolute best. Interesting. Trevathan may be a top 5 non-pass-rushing linebacker in the league yet not a top 5 player on Denver’s defense.
How tough was that Denver D?
Maybe I'm on the outside here but I don't get why everybody is making a big deal about Malik Jackson 5th round pick didn't do anything his first three years and when it’s his contract year he plays good is that because he's after the money or Wade Phillips system that made everybody better this year did the same for him I just keep thinking to myself if Antonio Brown plays that first playoff game against the Steelers are we even having this discussion
Billy—I think the Broncos ought to put you on their negotiating team.
I think you’re selling Jackson’s pre-2015 performance a little short but I get your point. First, Jackson was better than a fifth-round talent. He slipped because there were concerns about his transfer from USC to Tennessee and he didn’t take his Pro Day as seriously as he should have. He was also a bit of a defensive line tweener at 284 pounds coming out of Tennessee.
He learned. He learned you have to work for what you get in the NFL. He got bigger. He’s now listed at 293.
Jackson didn’t play much as a rookie in 2012, but he came on with 6.0 sacks and six pass deflections in his second season of 2013. He seemed ready for stardom in 2014, but instead the league adjusted to him and he slumped to 3.0 sacks and four deflections.
With Phillips coming in as defensive coordinator and Bill Kollar coming in as defensive line coach Jackson became a dominant player in his fourth season.
He didn’t make the Pro Bowl team but he should have. From the inside he had 5.5 sacks and his seven pass deflections were tied for second behind only J.J. Watt’s eight among NFL defensive linemen this year.
It’s not unusual for great players to not become great until their fourth season. Was free agency and the possibility of a huge pay motivation for Jackson? No question. He was refreshingly candid about it throughout the season.
Maybe, Jackson is not worth $14 million a year in the grand scheme of putting together a 53-man, Super Bowl roster. But that’s the going rate for defensive linemen of his ilk. Gerald McCoy is drawing an annual average of $15.87 million. Robert Quinn is averaging $14.28 million.
With free agency looming, what Broncos must be resigned to give the Organization a chance to repeat? Which of those free agents can Denver not allow to hit the open market on March 9?
Kyler—Amazing. Not one question in the mailbag about the Broncos’ Super Bowl victory. All questions are about what are the Broncos going to do now?
I’m not sure so much concern in a time of triumph is healthy. Maybe it is. What am I, a shrink? The 9NEWS Broncos mailbag doesn’t come with a couch. Onward to the offseason issues.
The Broncos top priority among their unrestricted free agents is Von Miller. He’s right there with Watt as the two most disruptive defensive players in the league.
The Broncos will make sure Miller doesn’t get away by slapping him with the franchise tag by next Tuesday. The franchise tag will be worth an estimated one-year salary of $14 million.
The Broncos can use the franchise tag up to three times on a player. He’d get a 20 percent bump to $16.8 million in 2017 and another 20 percent increase to $20.2 million in 2018.
Considering Miller would command a multiyear contract worth between $17 million and $20 million a year in the open market, the franchise tag is a palatable option for the Broncos.
History says the Broncos won’t do this. They may have threatened it with kicker Matt Prater, left tackle Ryan Clady and receiver Demaryius Thomas in recent years. But a long-term extension was eventually worked out before any of those players had to play a season on the franchise tag.
The lesson that should have been learned from Clady and Thomas, though, is it would behoove the Broncos to work out a long-term deal with Miller by mid-April rather than the deadline of mid-July.
Clady and Thomas both held out from the team offseason conditioning work and practices in protest of their franchise tag. Although, both reached long-term agreements by their July deadline, both may have suffered from their holdouts in April, May and June.
Clady suffered a season-ending foot injury two games into his new contract in 2013.
And we all know Thomas wasn’t the same in 2015.
I had a dream that Mack and Malik were on the same team. That tandem of talent would be quite rare, I hope that Elway prevents that nightmare. That's all I got. Good day sir!!
San Antonio, TX
Art—In real life, the Broncos had better than your nightmare: Malik and Von and DeMarcus and Wolfe. The Orange Rush, I think the Broncos’ pass rush was sometimes called, although the moniker hasn’t quite caught on in the way the Fearsome Foursome, the Purple Eaters, Steel Curtain and Doomsday Defense in the late-60s and 1970s.
I don’t think any defensive unit will ever have a long-lasting identity in these transient times.
But you hit on something there, Art. Whether you agree or disagree that Jackson is worth $12 million, $13 million or $15 million a year, the fact is the Broncos would not be as good a team if they lost him, and the Oakland Raiders would be much improved if they got him.
But you can’t lose sleep over it, Art. It’s the NFL.
Do you see any difference between this year's franchise tag situation with Von and year's past? Seems to me there is a lot more certainty about Von's worth in terms of salary compared to, for instance, last year when Demaryius and Dez were both waiting for the other to sign and there was a sizable gap between Calvin Johnson money and Larry Fitzgerald money.
My question is: Why do the tag with Von and play games for months rather than just aggressively offer him what we know he's worth (JJ Watt money) before free agency opens and then use the tag on Brock or Malik? My preference is for Malik, but seems like the tag would be good for Brock to give him a one-year audition. Thoughts?
Jonah—Have you been listening to Big Al? Alfred Williams advocates getting a deal done with Miller and placing the franchise tag on Jackson.
Here’s what I explained on the Big Al and DMac Show and what I’ll explain here: Arithmetic and business 101 say it only makes sense for the team to franchise Miller.
Follow along. Miller is worth between $17 million and $20 a year. The franchise tag is considerably lower at $14 million.
Jackson is worth between $12 million and $14 million. His franchise tag would be either estimated at $15.4 million (if he’s classified as a defensive end) or $13.4 million (if he falls into defensive tackle category).
Osweiler is worth anywhere from $10 million to $15 million a year. His franchise tag salary would be a whopping $19.6 million.
If a long-term deal can’t be worked out, the Broncos wouldn’t mind getting stuck with Miller’s $14 million salary.
But it wouldn’t sit well if the Broncos had to pay a one-year salary of $19.6 million to Osweiler.
The team has far greater bargaining leverage tagging the player whose estimated value exceeds the franchise tag salary. And so Von Miller is the slam-dunk choice for the franchise tag.
Besides all that, the Broncos under no circumstances can take the risk of losing Miller. It would hurt to lose Jackson. Losing Miller may do irreparable damage to the franchise.
I have not heard anyone give the kicker any kind of credit or praise for what he has done by putting the points he put on the board and how helpful and important his contribution was to the team in the games that we won. All the credit is going to our defense which Brock Osweiler should also get credit but in a lot of these games, if it wasn't for our kicker we would not have won. Thank you, Brandon McManus
Paul—We generally don’t pay attention to kickers unless they miss. I didn’t think any kicker was more underappreciated this season than New England’s Stephen Gostkowski.
And then he missed. Missed in the AFC Championship to end his nine-year extra point streak of 523.
McManus was huge for the Broncos early in the season. You can say he “won” four of the first six – Baltimore, Minnesota, Oakland and Cleveland. He was a little shaky in the final third of the season, but I was impressed with how he pulled it back together and was so clutch in the postseason.
You can say he “won” all three postseason games.
We made a point of crediting McManus in the Broncos defeat of New England – while Gostkowski missed what turned out to be a huge extra point -- in the AFC Championship Game.
And McManus was perfect in Super Bowl 50, going 3 of 3 on field goals while his counterpart Graham Gano missed a 44-yard field goal that had a major impact on momentum.
So there you go, Paul.
Why do you think Elway hasn't won executive of the year, yet? His track record since taking over the Broncos speaks for itself. Even Jerry Jones won it a couple years ago and I consider him one of the worst GM's in the league.
Charles—The Sports News issues the award based on a poll of league executives. There may be some envy in Elway not getting the award. He really didn’t work his way up to the top of football operations ladder. He started there.
Peyton Manning might be another reason. The feeling there is anyone can win with Manning as your quarterback.
Elway did nearly win the award in 2013 but he lost by one vote to Indianapolis’ Ryan Grigson, otherwise known as the #Deflategate snitch.
It’s a silly award, really, because the Executive of the Year every single year should be the GM of the team that won the Super Bowl. Only then is there justification that a roster was built strong enough to overcome weaknesses.
I’ve mentioned this before: What Elway did in transforming the Broncos from a wide-open offensive team that reached the Super Bowl in 2013 to a defensive dominated team that won the Super Bowl in 2015 is unprecedented.
This year’s award won’t be announced until the owners meetings March 20-23 in Boca Raton, Fla. The Pro Football Writers Association gave its top executive award to Mike Maccagnon this year.
My guess is Elway will let Maccagnon keep it and take his Super Bowl ring instead.