Today's question about the Broncos comes from Ted Shih: Q: Is it my imagination, but are more players accepting short-term deals than before? For example, I was surprised that Wes Welker signed only a two-year deal and not a longer one. What's the explanation? A: Ted, it isn't your imagination, it's the Broncos business plan in free agency these days. With John Elway calling the shots on the football side of the organization, the Broncos have made the decision to limit the risks in free agency, if possible. They don't want dead money on the salary cap — cap charges for players who are no longer on the roster — and they are a draft-centered team. This idea the Broncos are entirely in "win-now" or "all-in" mode because they have Peyton Manning at quarterback is simply false. Who says so? Guy named Elway. Here's how he put it: "So, I know that we've got to continue to stack these drafts, and that's how we're going to stay competitive for a long time. Now, free agency, to me, that's something you look at where you add certain aspects that make you better there, but the bottom line is, you're going to make your living on the draft." And that's exactly how the team has approached free agency in the last three offseasons under Elway if you look at the big picture, a picture that extends beyond Manning. Manning's signing was an anomaly, a future Hall of Fame quarterback with football tread left on the tires simply doesn't come into the market in the free agency era. In fact, many personnel folks I speak to regularly believe the league may never see another situation like it. Elway and the Broncos saw a unique opportunity and they made the most of it. So, to hold up Manning as an example of the Broncos' strategy in free agency is mis-placed. They have been far more selective in free agency after Manning, choosing to make short-term offers to players they believe could fill specific needs without burdening their salary cap. They are not one of the most cash-rich organizations in the league in terms of the ability to give up up-front, guaranteed money — they are closer to the middle of the pack in that regard than the top of the league — so that has influenced their strategy. Couple that with simple fact the "all-in" approach has yet to really work for anyone who has tried it, in terms of playing in, let alone winning, a Super Bowl and you have the football business plan for Dove Valley. The annual rite of the postseason is the "all-in" teams conduct their coaching searches as they watch the draft-built teams play of the trophy.
John Elway's Broncos business plan has long-term view on short-term deals
Denver Post | Mar 27