With the official start of NFL free agency (March 13) exactly one month away, the Denver Broncos are facing a salary cap dilemma.
The Broncos are projected to be about $24 million over the salary cap this offseason, so the team will have to get creative if they want to spend in free agency this spring. Denver can create more cap space through restructures, trades and player cuts.
With help from OverTheCap.com, we’ve come up with a five-step plan to get the Broncos under the salary cap with room to spare. These projected moves are made presuming that Denver will designate quarterback Russell Wilson as a post-June 1 release next month (which isn’t guaranteed, but seems probable).
If Wilson is cut and designed as a post-June 1 transaction, his salary cap hit won’t be different than his current 2024 cap hit ($35.4 million), according to OTC. So the team’s projected cap space factors in Wilson’s (expected) release.
Here’s how the Broncos can get out of the red this offseason.
Trade DB Justin Simmons ($14,500,000 in cap savings)
Broncos fans might not like this suggestion, but the team needs draft picks and cap space. Simmons will turn 31 during the 2024 season and Denver seems unlikely to contend for a Super Bowl before the veteran safety become an unrestricted free agent in 2025. Simmons is still one of the best safeties in the NFL, but he’s getting older. The Broncos should deal him now while he still has trade value to acquire more draft capital and free up cap space.
Trade WR Jerry Jeudy ($12,987,000 in cap savings)
This suggestion should face much less backlash. Jeudy is a talented receiver, but he has never quite lived up to his potential in Denver and a change of scenery might be best for both parties. The Broncos have listened to trade offers for Jeudy over the last two years. Now’s the time to make a move.
Extend LT Garett Bolles ($11,632,000 in cap savings)
Bolles is entering the final year of his contract and the Broncos could cut him and save $16 million, but that would leave the team without a left tackle to protect whatever quarterback lines up under center in 2024. Extending Bolles and pushing back some of his cap hit might be an easier option than trying to find a replacement this offseason.
Restructure OT Mike McGlinchey ($10,406,250 in cap savings)
McGlinchey is set to have a $15 million base salary in 2024. The Broncos can convert some of that into a signing bonus and prorate it over the course of his contract to give the team more cap space now. Cutting the right tackle is not a practical option due to his contract, so Denver might have to find creative ways to reduce his cap hit with a restructured deal.
Release WR Tim Patrick ($9,500,000 in cap savings)
Patrick is coming off back-to-back serious injuries and he will turn 31 during the 2024 season. The Broncos can’t afford to pay him $9.5 million this fall in the final year of his contract. Denver releasing Patrick seems inevitable, but the team might be able to re-sign him on a cheaper deal.
Total savings: About $35 million
Making those five moves (after accounting for the team’s $24 million deficit) would leave the team with nearly $35 million in salary cap space this spring. If parting with Simmons is a bridge too far, Denver could make the four other moves and be left with about $20.5 million in cap space.
The Broncos have some work to do to get under the cap, but it can be done. The next month will be a busy time for GM George Paton.