Thanks to some smart managing, the Denver Broncos came into the free agency period with the sixth-most cap space of any team in the NFL. They had $39 million in cap space before the trade of Russell Wilson on Tuesday, which was part of the reason they were in on talks to trade for Aaron Rodgers, and his massive cap hit, too.

But it turns out, the Broncos not only dodged a bullet in terms of Rodgers “me-first” mentality, but also his massive salary number compared to that of Wilson.

Consider this: Rodgers’ salary cap hit is $46 million for the 2022 season, while Wilson’s is “only” $24 million. That’s a massive difference of $22M, which is enough to sign a star at many positions, or multiple role players.

And, Wilson is arguably the better player going forward. He has 10 years of experience, has won just as many Super Bowls as has Rodgers (1 each) and is much younger (33-38). There is a report that Wilson’s deal, which has only two years remaining, will also get reworked, keeping him in the Mile High City for the long term.

So, where exactly does that leave the Broncos in terms of salary moving forward into free agency for the 2022 season. Actually, in a very good position.

Let’s first look at what they lost in the trade in terms of salary. Shelby Harris came with a $6 million dead cap hit, and it was $1.794M for Noah Fant and $779,000 for Drew Lock. So, all told, that’s $8.6M in dead cap from the trade. Still, worth it.

Now, let’s look at the total salary cap for the 2022 season. It was set at $208.2 million, which is a ton of money. However, the Broncos also were able to rollover $11.28M from 2021 in unused salary, meaning their total for 2022 is $219.5M.

So, including the addition of DangeRuss Wilson, and all that dead cap money from the trade, the Broncos still have a spectacular $26.005M in cap space. (Note: All of these numbers are coming from

That puts Denver in 11th in terms of cap to still spend, which is phenomenal considering they just landed one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. And, Broncos GM George Paton smartly signed Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick to long deals last year, giving Wilson the tools and talent to work with at wide receiver.

With that $26M, Paton still has a ton of work to do, though.

The Broncos will likely look to sign a veteran free agent tight end to fill Fant’s void. That could be someone like Robert Tonyan, who became a star under Nathaniel Hackett in Green Bay. But, there are a ton of options out there, too, including the draft (CSU’s Trey McBride, anyone?).

Offensively, there’s still an option to bring back Melvin Gordon, or to replace him with some who can run alongside Javonte Williams. And, the Broncos need a right tackle as well as possibly a new starting center.

Defensively, there are many bigger voids to fill. Kareem Jackson is a free agent; does Caden Sterns step into the starting role or will they look to sign a veteran at safety? Both Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson, the team’s inside linebackers, are free agents. Denver’s mentioned wanting to re-sign Jewell, but what about Johnson?

And the Broncos already needed more depth along the defensive line both on the interior and on the edge before Harris was traded away. So, they now need two IDLs and a new starting edge rusher with Von Miller being traded away mid-season. (Although, he could make a triumphant return).

Simply, Paton and the Broncos have a ton of work to do in terms of building the roster around Wilson.

But, with their franchise quarterback secured — one of the top-10, if not top-5 QBs in the NFL — those other voids will be easier to fill. And, some players may even take a discount, like we saw when Peyton Manning was signed by the Broncos nearly 10 years ago to the day.

Stay locked on Mile High Sports where we will be bringing free agency primers and updates as they happen.