Von Miller is the Broncos’ best and highest paid player. The team also used this year’s 5th overall pick on Bradley Chubb. If all goes to plan, they will be the starting edge rushers in Denver for many years to come. Is there room for Shane Ray or Shaq Barrett on a vested veteran deal to play the #3 position? I believe there is, but doing so will have to be on terms that may not be fully satisfactory to either player.
This contract will pay only to the second tier of edge rushers in the NFL.
With Miller and Chubb as the planned starters, it’s clear that the Broncos cannot afford to give either Ray or Barrett a deal that’s going to pay among the highest tier of edge rushers that largely consists of eight figure APYs, and with Miller atop that tier for now. After Cameron Jordan’s $11 million APY, there’s a drop to four players above $9 million APY that either signed way back in 2015 (Tyrone Crawford, Jerry Hughes), or are older players on shorter deals (Michael Bennett, Cameron Wake).
This brings the second tier of players who signed in the past two seasons that range in APYs from $8.5 million to $4 million, and full guarantees from $16.8 million to $4.5 million.
|Player||Yrs||APY||Full Guarantees||Running Cash Flows|
|Total||Pct.||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3|
Statistically, Ray and Barrett fall right in line with this second tier.
Here are the medians of some core stats that the group of players above have obtained in the past three seasons: 52% of the defensive snaps, 11 sacks, 18 tackles for loss, 31 quarterback hits, and 3 passes deflected. As you’ll see in the table below, both Ray and Barrett’s own productions fit neatly at or near those medians in all those metrics. This, to me, further supports the notion that this pay tier is not only appropriate for the Broncos’ specific needs, but for teams in general across the NFL.
|Year||Base Salary||Prorated Bonus||Cap Number||Dead Money (pre June 1)||Cap Savings (pre June 1)|
italics indicate fully guaranteed base salary
*This would be Barrett’s 2018 salary. For Ray, it would be $801,466.
This is a three year, $18 million extension that includes a $5.5 million signing bonus and a guaranteed 2019 base salary of $3 million. Three years is an appropriate length for this contract–not only because most of the comparables also have three year deals, but also because after the 2021 season, Chubb will be eligible for a fifth year option that, should it be picked up, will greatly raise his salary due to being picked within the top ten. $8.5 million in full guarantees, almost half of the contract guaranteed, and running cash flows of $8.5 million, $13 million, and $18 million are also competitive with the averages of those metrics among the comparables used.
As with offers to Bradley Roby and Matt Paradis, I will be asking Ray and Barrett, expecting no resistance from them, to convert $2.1 million of their 2018 base salary to a signing bonus, in order to assist with the possible cap crunch the Broncos could face in 2019.
I expect both players to balk at this offer–particularly Ray
My guess–and it is only a guess–is that Ray and Barrett will think that this offer is too low, and as of now at the very least, will plan on using 2018 as a contract year in an effort to bolster their value on the open market. My guess is that this will be especially true for Ray. This is because, as Sam Bradford’s career earnings can attest, being a highly regarded first round pick can go a long way into convincing teams that there is untapped potential that they can gain from. Combine that with Ray’s unfortunate injuries, and I think that should he have another moderate season he’ll aim for a one year, “prove it” deal in 2019 for a sum equal to the higher end of the second tier (around $8-9 million), with hopes of striking it big financially in 2020 and beyond. Barrett, too, may feel the same way even without injuries and draft status as excuses.
The Broncos, too, may be hesitant to offer this deal right away. For example, if Chubb lights it up in training camp and the preseason, and top UDFA prospect Jeff Holland shows enough in the same span to earn a chance at being the #3 edge rusher in 2019, the Broncos may be comfortable with letting both Ray and Barrett walk next offseason, and reap the compensatory pick benefits that would come.
However, whenever the Broncos do make this offer, I would advise them to keep the skeleton of the offer open throughout the 2018 regular season. If it becomes more likely than not to Ray or Barrett that they’re not having the monster contract year they hoped for, one of them may end up accepting the offer. And if both fail at that goal, the Broncos could be in a good position where whichever of the two claims the offer first gets it–as they did with Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson near the close of the 2015 season.