2017 Denver Broncos Free Agent Decisions
After the 2016 season, 21 Denver Broncos players have their current contracts run up. With an estimated $20 million in cap space, some of those players are likely to walk due to financial reasons. Others will be allowed to walk as the Broncos are fine with letting them walk, likely because they have replacements in mind.
Some of the 21 players are ERFAs, or exclusive rights free agents. An exclusive rights free agents is a player who doesn’t have more than two accrued seasons in the NFL. They can only sign with their previous team as long as the team extends a minimum qualifying offer to the player. ERFA’s have no negotiating power whatsoever.
Then there are also some RFAs, or restricted free agents. Restricted free agents are players who have more than the two accrued season that makes an ERFA, but they also don’t qualify to be an UFA, or unrestricted free agent. To declare as an unrestricted free agent, the player has to be over 27 years old or have a minimum of seven years in the NFL.
With restricted free agents, the player is allowed to sign with another team, but the former team has a chance to match the offer. That is if the former team placed a tender on the player. When a team puts a tender on a player it determines how much the player would make the following season. The tender is a 1st, 2nd and original round.
See if the player signs elsewhere and the team doesn’t match they get the pick that the tender amount qualifies them for. So if Denver were to place a 2nd round tender on a player, that would decide how much the player would make if he does’t sign elsewhere. If he does sign elsewhere, then the former team gets the second round pick. Original round is just the former team gets a pick for whatever round they were drafted in. If undrafted, they get no pick.
For the Broncos 21 free agents, the breakdown is eight ERFAs, three RFAs and the rest are UFAs. Fortunately for the Broncos, they have some key players as ERFAs and RFAs, giving Denver a lot more power and room to work next offseason.
Among the ERFAs, are Shaquil Barrett, Zaire Anderson, James Ferentz, Bennie Fowler, Matt Paradis, Casey Kreiter, Kapri Bibbs and Jordan Taylor. All of those players are likely to get brought back. At the very least they are cheap players to have on their training camp roster. For Barrett and Paradis, this is excellent value for Denver.
The three restricted free agents are Darrion Weems, Brandon McManus and Todd Davis. Most probably get tagged with an original round tender. The only one who might get something more is Todd Davis, but it depends on how the rest of his season goes.
As for unrestricted free agents, DeMarcus Ware, Sylvester Williams, Austin Davis, Vance Walker, John Phillips, Billy Winn, Darian Stewart, Jordan Norwood, Dekoda Watson and Kayvon Webster all fall into this category. Most of them are likely allowed to walk.
With Ware and Williams, it all depends on money. If Ware wants to return on a cheap deal, then the Broncos might be willing. Of course with his injuries, he may choose to retire. Williams will have to be a cheaper deal, and even then the Broncos may view Darius Kilgo as ready.
Phillips, Davis, Winn, Stewart and Norwood all should be allowed to walk. Stewart is the only one worth bringing back, but Justin Simmons is set to replace him. Walker, Watson and Webster should all be brought back, even if just as depth at their respective positions.
One thing is for sure, the Broncos have choices and options ahead of them. Thankfully they are led by one of the best general managers in football, John Elway. Plus they have a coaching staff that believes in developing young players.