The Denver Broncos, win or lose in Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 against the Carolina Panthers, already are thinking about next season.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Broncos are leaning toward using the franchise tag on free agent-to-be Von Miller — and taking their chances at quarterback.
You know the deal with Peyton Manning: Even though he’s under contract for another year, he very well could retire after Sunday’s game. Even if he intends to play in 2016, Manning is not expected back with the Broncos.
Brock Osweiler, who got his feet wet this season after sitting and watching Manning since 2012, is a pending free agent as well. So using the tag on Miller means the Broncos would be rolling the dice at the quarterback position, with only 2015 seventh-rounder Trevor Siemien for sure under contract.
They certainly could work something out with Miller before the start of free agency, but that might require making him the highest-paid defender in the NFL. In terms of guaranteed money, Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus ($60 million) has received the most to date, just ahead of Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh ($59.955M). Suh’s total contract value of $114.375M is by far the highest for any defender.
Be prepared to go north of that, Broncos.
Perhaps the ideal situation would be to cap Miller and sign Osweiler to a fair deal for a first-time starter. But that could prove to be difficult, especially with multiple teams this offseason — including the Los Angeles Rams and Houston Texans, both with talented rosters — seeking starting-caliber quarterbacks. The draft offers some potential at QB but perhaps not the immediate returns that Osweiler could. Likewise, the rest of the free-agent and trade market at the position is filled with questions.
Osweiler could really cash in nicely here. He has some leverage for certain, and his seven-game starting stint this season — even after being benched — was good enough to get some teams interested. The Broncos have a fascinating little situation on their hands, whether or not they win the Super Bowl.
Podcast: What will Peyton Manning do next year?:
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