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Explaining The Broncos’ 2023 Free Agent Signings

This was an unusual start of the new league year for the Broncos where they were extremely active on the unrestricted free agent market. I cannot recall seeing such a blistering pace in a very long time. There is reason behind why the Broncos did this, of course. But because there were so many signings over a short time frame, I decided to do something a little different this time around: take a pause, let the details of the contracts arrive and sink in, and then proceed with discussion all at once.

I’ll break this effort into two pieces. This first part will be a factual look at the contracts that were signed. This article will then be followed up by a second part in where I offer my opinion on what they all mean.

The sections of this article will simply consist of each player’s contract table with a brief explanation. As always, all contract data is courtesy of Over The Cap. Italics indicate salary that is fully guaranteed. All dead money and cap savings numbers are if the players are cut prior to June 1.

Mike McGlinchey

YearBase SalaryProrated BonusPer Game Roster BonusCap NumberDead MoneyCap Savings

This is a five year, $87.5 million contract that guarantees McGlinchey $35 million at signing, via a $17.5 million signing bonus, and guaranteed salaries in 2023 and 2024. However, his likely guaranteed money is likely to end up being $52.5 million. That’s because, as you can see in the italicized and asterisked figures in 2025, McGlinchey has an injury guarantee on the entirety of his 2025 base salary that vests to full on the 5th day of the 2024 league year. As such, I have adjusted the numbers if McGlinchey were cut before June 1 in 2025 to account for this guarantee vesting.

The Broncos could be able to feasibly cut McGlinchey after one season if something went horribly wrong with his play that is not injury related. In practicality, they would use a June 1 designation to keep his cap number the same for 2024, and defer the remaining $10.5 million of dead money to 2025. The June 1 designation would also likely come into play for a 2025 cut, keeping $7 million in dead money in 2026.

In any case, this contract will likely commit to McGlinchey for three seasons. If his play holds up during his first two seasons, his 2024 and 2025 base salaries are very restructurable if they so choose. Meanwhile, the Broncos securing two non-guaranteed years at total pay of $17.5 million each (indemnified slightly by per game roster bonuses) could end up being a bargain if McGlinchey’s play remains strong beyond age 30.

McGlinchey’s contract is standard among the top tier of right tackles, yet is not overwhelmingly market beating in any regard. $17.5 million APY ranks either 4th or 5th, depending on whether the Chiefs play newly signed Jawaan Taylor on the right or left. Cash flow is not particularly notable in McGlinchey’s favor, either: he ranks either 5th or 6th (again, depending on how Taylor is classified) in running cash flows of $20 million, $35 million, $52.5 million, and $70 million throughout the first four years of the contract.

Zach Allen

YearBase SalaryProrated BonusPer Game Roster BonusCap NumberDead MoneyCap Savings

This is a three year, $45.75 million contract with $32.5 million guaranteed at signing and in total via a $15 million signing bonus and guaranteed base salaries in 2023 and 2024. A void year was added to this contract to spread out Allen’s cap dollars from his signing bonus, and could also prove useful for the same purpose via restructuring his 2024 base salary if need be.

This is a very standard contract that’s become common for interior defensive linemen: three years in length, with the first two fully guaranteed. It is very similar to that of DJ Jones, and the structure is also very similar to what I initially projected for old friend Dre’Mont Jones, as well as to what Dre’Mont Jones actually got from the Seahawks.

Allen’s contract, while paying him well, is well off the top of the first tier of non-Aaron Donald interior defensive linemen, set at the same time by Daron Payne getting $22.5 million APY from the Commanders. Allen ranks 14th in APY and at all levels of running cash flows. However, in exchange for concessions in total money, Allen did secure stronger guarantees, receiving a firm two year commitment from the Broncos. Contrast to say, Dre’Mont Jones, who only got $23 million guaranteed at signing, and still is due to have less guaranteed even when accounting for a $7 million vesting guarantee in 2024. It is much more feasible for the Seahawks to move on from him after only one season than it is for the Broncos and Allen.

Three years in length also makes Allen a free agent again before he turns 30, and if his play remains high throughout his contract, he could potentially earn a third contract that is also lucrative.

Ben Powers

YearBase SalaryProrated BonusRegular Roster BonusPer Game Roster BonusCap NumberDead MoneyCap Savings

This is a four year, $52 million contract with $27 million fully guaranteed at signing via a $13 million signing bonus and guaranteed 2023 and 2024 salaries. This is another contract with a clear two year commitment by the Broncos, with flexibility to make decisions afterward. However, Powers was able to negotiate a little bit of leverage to nudge the Broncos into early action in case they do want to move on from him after 2024. The asterisk on his 2025 base salary indicates a $1.5 million guarantee that vests on the 5th day of the 2025 league year, and similarly, on the 5th day of the 2026 league year, Powers is due a $500,000 roster bonus.

Powers’s contract fits neatly at the bottom of the top tier of guard pay, and should the contracts of Laken Tomlinson and Zack Martin be terminated or expire before his own, he may very well fall out of the top tier. His running cash flow ranks 10th throughout the contract until the 4th year where it takes a mild jump. However, like with Allen, Powers negotiated better full guarantees at signing, coming in 6th with his two years of commitment from Denver.

Alex Singleton

YearBase SalaryProrated BonusPer Game Roster BonusCap NumberDead MoneyCap Savings

The only major re-signing the Broncos have made, they pretty much copied the contract that they gave to fellow linebacker Josey Jewell, except they gave him a slight pay raise ($6 million APY over $5.5 million APY) over Jewell in exchange for another year of team control. Singleton secured a total of $9 million in full guarantees via a $4 million signing bonus, his 2023 base salary of $2 million, and (indicated via the asterisk) $3 million of his 2024 base salary.

Jarrett Stidham

YearBase SalaryProrated BonusRegular Roster BonusPer Game Roster BonusCap NumberDead MoneyCap Savings

The Broncos gave Stidham a strong contract for a clear backup quarterback, guaranteeing him $5 million via $2 million each in base salary and signing bonus money, plus a guaranteed roster bonus due in 2024. Contrast with some other similar contracts recently signed like Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Mike White, and old friend Drew Lock, as well as a renegotiated contract for Jameis Winston. All of those quarterbacks got $4 million APY deals, other than Darnold at $4.5 million APY, and none got more guaranteed than $4.5 million. However, the Broncos did get Stidham under contract for two seasons, something that only White agreed to among those peers.

Chris Manhertz

YearBase SalaryProrated BonusPer Game Roster BonusCap NumberDead MoneyCap Savings

Not a whole lot to say here for a blocking tight end contract. Manhertz gets $3.34 million fully guaranteed via a $1.25 million signing bonus, the entirety of his 2023 base salary, and $500,000 of his 2024 base salary. However, despite the guarantees, it is entirely possible, although not preferable at all, that Manhertz could not even make the regular season roster without much dead money problems.

Samaje Perine

YearBase SalaryProrated BonusPer Game Roster BonusCap NumberDead MoneyCap Savings

Perine’s entire guaranteed money is contained in a $3 million signing bonus. As with Manhertz, there is a possible but unpreferred avenue where Perine might not make the roster, and given the current lack of depth at running back, it does not seem likely as of now. Perine also has a reasonably frontloaded deal, scheduled to earn $4.5 million in 2023, as opposed to $3 million in 2024.

Riley Dixon

Details on Dixon’s contract are not in yet, but the fact that the Broncos immediately parted ways with Corliss Waitman would suggest that his contract will likely be of starter material.

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A final note on contract structure

When the Broncos hired Sean Payton as head coach, there was some speculation that he might be given considerable influence on contractual matters, even to the point that some wondered if he would bring over Saints-style structure that goes to extreme leveraging and mortgaging of cap dollars into the future.

However, upon looking at the details of these contracts, it’s clear that George Paton is still running the show here, as one can see the following traits that have been consistent with the contracts that Paton crafted before Payton arrived:

  • Signing bonuses that contain almost the entirety of the first year of pay
  • In turn, low base salaries in the first year
  • Fully guaranteed base salaries in the second year
  • Per game roster bonuses, usually $30,000 per game, on any year that does not have a full commitment from the team

This is a middle of the road formula that keeps Paton near the median of contract proration ratios among his fellow general managers, and it is a formula that I find to be a good way to run a roster, as it gives a team flexibility to utilize both techniques as appropriate.