Strike 3: Is there any chance the rebuilding Colorado Rockies would follow a similar path as the rebuilding Denver Broncos? Would they ever consider handling Kris Bryant the same way the Broncos handled Russell Wilson, by just eating the players’ massive contract and parting ways?

Unlikely, but something to think about.

Wilson was healthy and fairly productive during his final season in predominantly orange, but he just didn’t fit what first-year Broncos head coach Sean Payton wanted to do with his offense. Despite having missed the playoffs for eight straight years, as an organization the Broncos remain in “win now” mode at all times. Wilson’s contract cost the Broncos uber-wealthy ownership something they could afford – about $38 million to not play for them in 2024 – and something they really can’t, $85 million against the NFL’s unforgiving salary cap. That cap hit and subsequent limitations are a crippling blow to an organization that’s more than willing to spend on player salaries regardless, budget be damned.

The Rockies are in a very different situation. A relatively healthy Bryant is off to a terrible start to his third season in purple pinstripes. That’s the worst possible result for everyone – including Rockies ownership – who’ve been waiting for the former MVP to get over his nagging injuries and become a productive regular in Colorado’s everyday lineup. If Bryant can’t become an All-Star caliber performer once again and validate the huge seven-year, $182 million contract he signed in 2022, then his signing really does become an albatross hanging around the neck of an organization with limited resources.

The Rockies have a self-imposed salary cap – called a budget in other businesses – and Bryant’s contract eats up a lot of it.

The irony here is obvious: The Broncos cut their high-priced veteran QB even without having a replacement in place because they could, regardless of the contract. The Rockies won’t cut a high-priced veteran even though they do have better options already in place, because of the contract.

With the NFL Draft approaching, the Broncos are still searching for a replacement for Wilson. The Rockies, on the other hand, already have young players like Jordan Beck, Hunter Goodman, Benny Montgomery and Zac Veen waiting in the wings. Young Rockies currently on the roster, like Michael Toglia and Elehuris Montero, are already better players than Bryant right now on both offense and defense. But due to the money he’s owed, Bryant remains in the lineup.

So while both organizations – each living in that “rebuilding” mode – can lament the size and scope of those ill-fated contract signings, they are dealing with them very differently.

It’s not outlandish to say that the Broncos could have kept Wilson and he would have continued to be productive – and perhaps Pro Bowl caliber – at the position. We’ll find out now that he’s a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. And the Broncos would have been far better off financially.

But winning sooner appears to matter more than dollars at Dove Valley.

It’s also not outlandish to say that the Rockies could release Bryant, eat the remaining $131 million on that contract and open up playing time for those younger, better players they already have under far smaller contracts. And the team on the field would be better for the move.

But winning sooner doesn’t appear to matter as much as the budget and the hope of winning later.