George Paton and the Denver Broncos are at an impasse this season. Meaning, a successful season is the most important variable in determining how the 2022 Broncos are created.
Paton has the Broncos in an interesting position. The Broncos’ current roster is as deep as any other in the league. The Broncos’ new headman has a particular philosophy to attack the AFC’s elite and is building a team in that image.
Campbell also indicates the team’s financial commitments are encouraging.
“For today I wanted to look at which teams have the most expensive rosters in the NFL when valued by the annual contract value of the players on the team,” Campbell said. “The second thing I wanted to look at was how much cap space each team is projected to have in 2022. I used each team’s estimated cap room and added in the salary cap carryover estimates to come up with those figures.
What does it all mean?
Data across the X-axis indicates roster value for the 2021 season based on the APY (average per year salary) of every player on the roster. The data along the Y-axis indicates projected 2022 salary cap space along with an estimation for cap carryover.
Each line represents the NFL average. Teams within the top right quadrant are teams who have an expensive roster this season and salary flexibility moving forward. The left quadrant is rebuilding. Those rosters consist of low-value contracts. Additionally, these teams have strong salary cap positioning in 2022.
This includes the Broncos and a handful of other teams.
Impact on Broncos this season and next
Campbell’s work provides more information into the position the Broncos are in. One tail of the story is encouraging, lined with flexibility moving forward.
The other half of the coin brings uncertainty for Broncos fans as to what the future may hold.
Former general manager John Elway left his successor some quality young talent and a strong cap situation. Paton maneuvered this offseason to maximize flexibility moving forward.
For instance, the good news is this team sits 20th in salary cap spending in 2021 while having over $69 million available next offseason. The flip side is players such Von Miller, Teddy Bridgewater, Kareem Jackson, Alexander Johnson, Kyle Fuller, Bryce Callahan, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, and Melvin Gordon are set to hit free agency after the season.
With a successful season, many of these players could return. A playoff run in 2021 could signal Paton seeking a veteran quarterback. Options such as Aaron Rodgers or Matt Ryan this offseason. As the team did in 2012, Paton may be able to sell the upside of this roster to an available high-end veteran starter that this team can push for a Super Bowl berth.
This team will look very different next year if the 2021 season gets off to a slow start and this team struggles. Paton may elect to let these veterans walk and retool the remaining young and talented roster. This would like up for the team to draft a developmental quarterback high in the 2022 draft. The team would lean into a draft and develop a model, looking to rebuild and compete in the years ahead.
Overall, Paton has put himself and the Broncos in a good position for the next offseason. He can simply see how this season goes before determining how to build the 2022 roster.