The Denver Broncos started their offseason sooner than they expected after getting eliminated in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. That means that the Broncos have to begin addressing their needs now, and the need at the very top of their list is the contract status of starting left tackle Ryan Clady.
The 6-foot-6 fifth year pro played out his contract this season and can now head into free agency if the team decides not to use the franchise tag on him. Clady had another excellent year, protecting the blind side of Peyton Manning and his surgically fused neck, which made him an even more important part of the offense than usual. He responded by being named to the All-Pro team.
Denver will undoubtedly pull out all of the stops to try and sign Clady to a long-term extension. The 26-year old tackle is quickly becoming one of the premier offensive linemen in the NFL and has earned a big-time contract for his efforts. A deal that paid him on average between $12 and $15 million per season would not be out of the question.
If the two sides can’t come to an agreement before the franchise tag deadline, Denver won’t have any issues using the tag on Clady to keep him in the Mile High City. Last year, the franchise tag for left tackles cost just north of $9 million and this season it could get closer to $10 million. That’s a small price to pay to keep Peyton Manning upright, and Denver won’t hesitate to use it.
The team will likely continue to work on a long-term extension for Clady even if they use the franchise tag on him this season. His consistent play has been a big reason for the success Denver has had in winning back-to-back AFC West division titles. He’ll be a key piece for the future of the franchise as they try and take the next step and bring another Super Bowl trophy home to Denver.