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Broncos, Ryan Clady resume contract talks

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Ryan Clady and the Broncos resumed contract talks (USA Today Sports Images)

Franchised left tackle Ryan Clady won't attend the Denver Broncos' mandatory minicamp this week, but the Broncos and Clady have discussed a long-term contract for the first time since last July, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports.

Clady, who has three Pro Bowls on his résumé, is reportedly seeking a deal similar to the seven-year, $80.5 million extension that Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas signed on Aug. 22, 2011. Thomas' deal included $44 million partially guaranteed money and averaged $14 million per year in "new money" over the all-important first three seasons of the contract.

Clady has yet to sign his franchise tag, which carries a fully guaranteed base salary of $9.828 million. Though unsigned, that tender currently counts against the Broncos' 2013 salary cap. As of Monday, the Broncos had just over $8.5 million in available cap space with their top three 2013 draft picks left to sign.

A thaw in the negotiations does not come as a surprise as the two sides have less than five weeks to reach agreement on a multi-year extension. This year's deadline for teams to sign franchised players to a multi-year extension is 4 p.m. ET on July 15. Once that date passes, Clady, and the other seven franchised players, can sign only a one-year contract that cannot be extended until after the regular season finale on Dec. 29.

Since Clady does not have a signed contract, he is not required to attend this week's mandatory minicamp and will not be subject to fines by the club. Head coach John Fox does not seem concerned about Clady's absence, telling season-ticket holders in a Monday night fan forum that Clady probably would not be participating in the practices even if he were in attendance.

"On Ryan Clady, as I tell everybody, these offseason workouts are voluntary and there really is no recourse," Fox said. "Ryan is a sharp player, a very big part of our offense. He’s basically a cornerstone at the left tackle position. He’s also rehabbing an offseason surgery so he technically or physically would not be able to participate in the practices anyway.

"So he’s taking care of business that way and he’s a guy that I know wants to be a Bronco and the Broncos want Ryan Clady and that’s something that will eventually get worked out."

Clady could skip training camp, too, but if a long-term deal is not reached and he is forced to play out the season under the franchise tag, there is little chance of Clady missing any regular-season games for the first time in his career. Under the tag, Clady's weekly game checks in 2013 would be worth $578,118, which means he'll be on the field when the Broncos host the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 5.

Should the Broncos use the franchise tag on Clady again in 2014, it would be worth $11.7936 million in salary. A hypothetical third franchise tag would be worth $16,982,784, which means playing out the nightmarish (for all sides) scenario of three franchise tags would cost the Broncos over $38.6 million, which is likely close to the amount of guaranteed money that Clady's agent, Pat Dye, is seeking now on a multi-year deal.

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