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Why Did The Broncos Allow Matt Paradis To Leave Denver?

As you likely know by now, Matt Paradis is no longer a Bronco. In this article, I intend to scrutinize the events that led to this result, and to ask questions about how the Broncos let this happen, and where they stand on the offensive line after this move that they did not make.

Back in July, I crafted a deal that I felt that was fair for both Paradis and the Broncos at that time. That contract would have created a total of $27.05 million in new money, and $13.75 million in full guarantees, over three years. The contract table within the link above shows what that contract would have looked like had it been signed during the 2018 league year. Below, here’s what the contract would have looked liked if it was signed in the 2019 league year:

YearBase SalaryProrated BonusCap NumberDead MoneyCap Savings

Obviously, such a deal was not struck, back in July, or ever. Instead, here was the deal Paradis struck in reality with the Panthers yesterday:

YearBase SalaryProrated Bonus53 Player PGRB46 Player PGRBWorkout BonusCap NumberDead MoneyCap Savings

I’ll spare you the ugly math that’s created here by the Marty Hurney Special of creating void years to defer cap charges to emphasize the core value of this contract: this is a three year, $27.03 million deal–a mere $200,000 difference in total value from what I projected in July–that fully guarantees Paradis $10 million, less than what my deal offered him.

Finally, here’s a very important note to keep in mind as you continue to read this article: $4.5 million of Paradis’s money in the Panthers’ contract is tied to workout and per game roster bonuses. This is money that is no sure thing for Paradis should he get injured throughout the duration of his contract.

So, why weren’t the Broncos able to get this deal done last summer? Well, according to Mike Klis, a $9 million APY deal was indeed what the Broncos offered to Paradis at that time. Paradis’s camp reportedly countered with an offer to make him the highest paid center in the league, and that ended negotiations at that time. Fair enough on both sides, in my opinion.

What followed next was terrible for Paradis: he suffered a torn syndesmotic ligament and broken fibula during the regular season. While that ended his 2018 campaign, it was not the type of injury that should have dampened his free agency campaign as his contract year was concluding. At the same time, it was appearing that Paradis was correct to reject a valuation on his talent at $9 million APY, as centers appeared to be in high demand for the next offseason. This argument further appeared to be confirmed this last Monday when Mitch Morse signed an $11 million APY deal with the Bills, and it seemed fait accompli that Paradis would soon best that.

But as we now know, Paradis didn’t come even close to besting Morse. Furthermore, the Panthers were clearly spooked by Paradis’s recent history, given the $4.5 million that they demanded–and Paradis accepted–to be tied to workout and per game roster bonuses. But remember this: Paradis did not miss a single snap in his career before his 2018 injury, even after he underwent double hip injury surgery.

I find it quite incredible that Paradis even had to settle for putting $4.5 million into bonuses based upon his ability to play. Furthermore, it should have been very easy for the Broncos to better the Panthers’ offer if they wanted to by moving that money into typical base salary money due to him even if he was unable to play.

But the Broncos did not. Instead, according to Klis, they only offered a one year deal to him before free agency. This indicates to me, on the surface, that Broncos were even more spooked about his injury than the Panthers were, despite his history of continuous play in the face of injuries.

So what gives? Here is where we enter the world of speculation from outside the Broncos’ front office. The best reason I can concoct is that, with Mike Munchak now in the fold as offensive line coach, perhaps he saw something in Paradis that deemed him not to be worth the value of even $9 million APY in his system. Fair enough if that is the calculus, but it would be nice to know if that was the case.

Furthermore, even if we cede that Paradis is no longer a fit for what the Broncos want to do, then what is the plan for replacing him? As it stands now, Connor McGovern would likely remain his replacement at center. But who would be McGovern’s replacement at right guard? I find it incredible to think that that hole can be definitively filled with Sam Jones, Elijah Wilkinson, or Don Barclay with what we know now. And Billy Turner won’t fill it now that he’s departed to Green Bay for an impressive $7 million APY deal. Perhaps there will be a future right guard or center signing in free agency that will handle this hole, although I have no idea who is available that would be able to sufficiently fill it.

But to wrap this up, know this: John Elway prides himself in filling the biggest perceived roster holes in free agency, so that he can have the luxury of picking the best players available in the draft, instead of being forced into drafting for need. We’ve seen what happens when he has the ability to do the former, and has no choice but to do the latter.

But from how I see the Broncos roster right now, Elway had a chance to snuff out a major hole on the offensive line by retaining Paradis at an amount he was reportedly willing to offer back in the summer. He did not do so, and thus I respectfully dissent from this inaction. Now, my dissents are far from infallible: I did so when he cut CJ Anderson last offseason, and he decisively proved me wrong. I hope that he proves me wrong again.