Jussel: (Rick) Elway spells out the offseason for Broncos
I am John Elway and I have work to do, starting with … ME!
My contract as general manager of the Denver Broncos is up. Do I want to continue in that role? I do.
Does Team President Joe Ellis want me to? He says he does.
Let’s get that order of business out of the way and sign a contract extension. I enjoy my job, and I still get in plenty of golf.
Next up: I’ve got to hire a coach since good buddy Gary Kubiak called it a career. Surprising to some. Not so much to me. I had a suspicion.
The two best choices are Vance Joseph, who would have been on our defensive coordinator a couple of years ago except the Cincinnati Bengals wouldn’t allow him to interview, and Kyle Shanahan, who has grown up with us, being the son of our longtime coach, Mike Shanahan.
Joseph is defensive coordinator at Miami, Shanahan offensive coordinator in Atlanta. Both are successful as assistants and have wonderful futures as head coaches.
Question is, do I want to continue with much of our current staff and hire Shanahan, or gut the staff and bring in Joseph.
Shanahan it is.
That done, it’s time to deal with the team. We’ve got a rough schedule next season, games against the likes of the Patriots, Cowboys, Giants and Dolphins, all playoff teams this time around, not to mention two games against the Chiefs and Raiders, also playoff teams.
Tough, yes, but K.C. and Oakland (or Vegas, or Los Angeles) will have it even tougher. Our task will be to again get back on top in the AFC West, then see what happens when the tournament starts.
To do that, we need to rework our roster a bit.
Time to crunch some numbers using figures obtained from Spotrac and the NFL Players Union:
The all-important salary cap next season will go up from $155 million to $168 million, according to reports. We have about $38 million in cap space — money to add more talent.
Sounds good, but it’s not nearly enough to do what needs be done. Cleveland has more than $100 million in cap space, the 49ers nearly $90 million. Even the Patriots — yes the Patriots — will have more than $70 million to spend on additions.
I’ve got to find more money.
Here’s my plan:
I waive offensive tackles Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson. Big mistake last season. But I am going to rectify that and save $10.7 million on Okung and $3 million on Stephenson.
I am also going to ask two veterans to restructure their contracts. Demaryius Thomas will go from $12 million to $6.9 million and Aqib Talib will go from $12 million to $5.2 million. Yes, I know we’ll have to pay them later, but they are leaders and can deal with the hit now.
With those four moves, I have saved nearly $25 million against the cap. We will now have roughly $64 million to mess with.
A couple of people we will need to re-sign, and one of them is DeMarcus Ware. He wants to play and still can help in the locker room and on the field — and I think I can bring him back near the league minimum for a player with 10 years or more of experience, $1 million per.
Also, I’ll bring back Vance Walker, who was hurt this season, Kayvon Webster and Billy Winn. I can get them all for less than $4 million.
So what do we need to bring in?
First, we’ve got to replace Okung and Stephenson and there are lots of choices.
We also need to upgrade with a veteran guard. I keep Max Garcia at left guard and put Michael Schofield as a backup at both tackle and guard spots.
Three new offensive linemen are going to cost somewhere between $20 and $25 million.
We need more quality beef on the defensive line. The two big-name tackles are Kawann Short of Carolina and Brandon Williams of Baltimore. Estimates have them re-signing or heading elsewhere for $12 to $14 million per season.
I can get two high-quality players for that, defensive tackle Nick Fairley of New Orleans and defensive end Andre Branch of Miami. Fairley is 28, Branch 27. Both would be at least doubling their current salaries and we still have money to burn, possibly $20 to $25 million.
I wonder, what would Tony Romo do with Shanahan calling the plays?
What is Trevor Siemian worth on the market right now?
Does anyone have Jerry Jones’ cell number?