The Denver Broncos have made a lot of noise in the first two days of free agency and the talent they have brought in is impressive, but there is something else that is just as impressive.
The Broncos have improved their chances to win a Super Bowl now, but they have not mortgaged the future in doing so. The danger of free agency is signing a player to big contract with prorated bonuses and then finding out that the player is a bust. When that happens, the team that signed that player ends up paying money to guys who are no longer on their roster. Even if the player does get cut, the prorated bonus is accelerated to the year they are cut and kills the salary cap for two or three seasons.
The beauty of what John Elway and the Broncos have done is simple. They have signed a lot of talent but the guaranteed money is not very high and there are no prorated bonuses. In simpler terms, even if all of the signings from the last two days do not work out, the Broncos are still set to make moves in the future. Even going back to last March with the signing of Peyton Manning, the salary is high but none of it is bonus money.
What does all of this mean in English? It means that the Broncos are going all in to win a Super Bowl in the next two years, but will also be in position to build around Brock Osweiler when the time comes. A lot of teams go all in to win a championship, which is not unusual, but protecting the future is extremely rare. Just ask the Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens are the defending champions and if they go 8-8 in 2013, it would be a minor miracle. They kept pushing pack the bills and it finally came back to bite them. Now they must pay. They did manage to keep quarterback Joe Flacco but at what cost? The core of their team is gone because the Ravens simply would not afford to pay everyone.
The job Elway has done over his first 2+ years as the Vice President of Football Operations has been nothing short of amazing. He’s brought in talent, rebuilt a 4-12 team into a contender and made the Broncos an attractive destination again. A lot of personnel people have done those things for other teams over the years, but very few have done it the way Elway has.
He has built the team into a contender now and still has them in position to compete when this group led by Manning is gone. It’s hard to describe how hard that is to do in pro sports and Elway has made it look easy. It’s nothing short of amazing, but we should be used to that from a guy who leads 98-yard drives without breaking a sweat.
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