NFL Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos: Potential Salary Cap Casualties

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Potential Salary Cap Casualties

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Teams all over the NFL are busy preparing for free agency and the draft, and part of the preparation involves some very tough decisions. Teams who are currently over the salary cap must find a way to get under the cap before free agency begins, and teams who are under the cap are looking to create more room.

The process has already started in some cities. The Green Bay Packers have said they are not interested in re-signing Charles Woodson, and the Indianapolis Colts have parted ways with Dwight Freeney. These moves and moves like them have nothing to do with the player’s ability; they have everything to do with the money they are making.

The salary cap forces teams to make decisions based on two factors and those factors don’t always work well together. Take Woodson, for example, he’s still a great player in the NFL but for the Packers to sign him they would have to commit a lot of money to an aging player. The problem is less about the money that Woodson would be making and more about the Packers inability to commit money elsewhere. The trick for executives like John Elway of the Denver Broncos is to release a player at the right time. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

If you release a player too early and he goes on to three or four more great seasons somewhere else, then it’s a huge mistake. If you hang onto a guy too long, then you are stuck with a high-priced veteran who can no longer play.

The Broncos are roughly $14 million under the salary cap, but they will be looking to create more room before free agency begins in March. Here are five players who could be salary cap causalities for the Broncos.

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Knowshon Moreno

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Knowshon Moreno had a surprisingly good season for the Broncos, but he is likely to be the third or fourth string running back when the team reports for training camp in August. The Broncos have Willis McGahee and Ronnie Hillman, both will be listed ahead of Moreno. There are also reports that the Broncos will add another running back via free agency or the draft. Moreno is scheduled to make $3.5 million which is way too much for a fourth string running back. However, Moreno could be helped if the next player is a salary cap cut.

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Willis McGahee

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Willis McGahee finished the season on injured reserve and will be 32 years old when the next season begins. The Broncos also saw that they can survive without McGahee, especially if they add another running back in the off-season. The one thing working in McGahee’s favor is his $2.5 million salary is very reasonable for a player with his resume. The biggest thing working against McGahee is the success of Moreno who is younger. It’s just a guess but if the Broncos choose one or the other, I believe Moreno would be the odd man out.

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Chris Kuper

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The Broncos like guard Chris Kuper when he is on the field, the problem is he hasn’t been able to stay on the field for extended periods of time. He missed a lot of time in the 2012 season due to various injuries and is rehabbing again this off-season. Kuper is scheduled to make $4.6 million, that’s a big number for someone who may or may not be ready to go.

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Joe Mays

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Joe Mays signed a new contract before last season that would pay him $4 million. That contract was designed with the idea that Mays would be the starting middle linebacker; that is no longer the case. It would be a stunner if Mays was back with the Broncos in 2013.

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DJ Williams

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The most obvious name that is almost certain to go in a salary cap related move is linebacker, DJ Williams. The talented but troubled player is scheduled to make $5.3 million in 2013 and he is no lock to make the team. Wesley Woodyard has taken over the position that Williams used to play and they are not about to pay over $5 million for a backup. In addition, saying goodbye to Williams would rid the Broncos of a headache.

There will be other Broncos who are released for cap reasons, there will even be a surprise or two but these five are certainly the top candidates.

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