As the offseason continues and the draft and organized team programs near, the Denver Broncos have a lot of work to do. And while there will be numerous new faces along the coaching staff and offensive line in particular, three players’ recent play and massive contracts dictate that they will shoulder a lot of pressure during the upcoming season.

Ryan Clady, DeMarcus Ware and Demaryius Thomas will all be making over $8 million dollars during the 2015 season. That fact alone should be enough for a player to prove his worth but despite some amazing careers, recent lack-luster performances should also loom over them and motivate them this year.

In 2015 season, Clady will be playing in his third year of a 5-year, $52 million contract and quite frankly he has not looked like the player the Broncos believed they had when he signed the dotted line.

Clady began his career with enormous success. From the moment he was drafted in 2008, 12th overall out of Boise State he was a mainstay along the line. He started his first 85 straight games until 2013 and according to Pro Football Focus (PFF) he accumulated over 1,000 snaps in each of those years. From 2008-12 he was ranked in the top-ten of PFF’s left tackles three times and only allowed 21 sacks during that span.

His performance warranted the huge deal he signed in July of 2013 but soon bad luck hit the tackle in the feet. He suffered a Lisfranc injury in week two against the New York Giants. He then missed the rest of the season.

In 2014 Clady again started every game and appeared in over 1,000 snaps, per PFF. However, his performance was not on par with the stellar year he had in 2012. He seemed to be a step slower, especially against quick pass rushers. He struggled mightily against the Seattle Seahawks, the St. Louis Rams and both games against the Indianapolis Colts. His overall grade on PFF of -2.8 was the second-worst of his career. His performance in 2014 seemed to be masked by the fact that Broncos entire offensive line unit was in shambles and constantly being shuffled.

In March of this year Clady received a $1.5 million roster bonus and will be one of the highest paid tackles in the league. When you add his roster bonus, his base $8.5 million salary and his yearly $600,000 signing bonus he will count as $10.6 million against the team’s salary cap according to

The Broncos will enter offseason programs this month and the offensive line may have three new starters, making Clady’s role more important than ever. The Broncos will be in dire need of Clady to return to a top-ten left tackle to match his top-ten tackle contract.

Ware is another veteran player set to make big bucks in 2015 despite a disappointing end to the 2014 season. Ware, an 11-year NFL defensive end started off the year on fire. He accumulated nine sacks in the first eight games of the year, only to record one in the last nine.

Ware looked like his old, havoc-inducing self early in 2014 but faded in the second half of the season due to presumable some wear-and-tear and an illness in week 12. Like Clady, Ware will be vital in helping out a youthful defensive front. His knowledge of Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense will be very beneficial for Von Miller and others in the front seven. As his age becomes more and more of a factor Ware must find ways to stay relevant down the stretch in 2015 and truly earn his big paycheck during the entire season.

Ware has been a prolific pass rusher his entire career and outside of an injury plagued 2013; he has been a consistent threat to quarterbacks. According to He signed a 3-year, $30 million contact last year and he will getting paid roughly $8.6 million in 2015, after receiving $9.6 last year and will make another $11.6 if he is on the roster in 2016.

Lastly, Thomas still has something to prove after a prolific five years in the NFL. Similar to both his teammates Ware and Clady he has made pro bowls and eclipsed franchise records but unlike those two he has yet to come back down to earth.

Thomas continues to be an ascending talent in professional football and has surpassed 1,000 yards receiving the last three years and become arguably the best receiver in the entire league. However, there are some aspects of his game that have led people to question his sure hands, especially when confronted by physical cornerbacks.

Thomas has a set of skills that are rarely seen in the NFL but for some reason the giant 6’3”, 229-pound receiver can get taken out of games if the right buttons are pushed. Vontae Davis, in both contest against the Colts, kept him in check in 2014, forcing four dropped passes and fans remember that despite his catch total in Super Bowl XLVIII he looked intimidated after being hit early in the contest.

The new and possibly biggest factor in Thomas’ future, particularly as a Bronco happened earlier this week. As a result of the Broncos franchise tagging Thomas to a one-year $12.8 million contract on March 1st he made it known Monday that he would forgo the team’s offseason program and even pass on Peyton Manning’s annual workouts at Duke University. He appears to be content on holding off signing the Broncos offer until the July 15th deadline.

In the same interview with in which he spoke about his intentions, Thomas did say he was preparing hard for the upcoming season and will be ready to play. Missing the workouts will have an effect on the chemistry with his teammates and it could quickly remind fans of his start last season. He started off 2014 slowly and had several drops that led fans to panic before a breakout game in week four. Additionally, Thomas dropped 11 passes in 2014 and he had the eighth highest total in the NFL for wide receivers during the regular season, per PFF.

Thomas has shown that he has the talent to take over as the best skill player in the NFL but he will have to prove it when the biggest moments arrive against the best opponents. John Elway insists he wants Thomas on the team for years to come and baring injury, many teams would love to sign him. The long-term deal he is seeking will obviously be highly impacted by how he plays in 2015 and the pressure will surely mount with each missed workout.

All three players have fame and due to recent contracts, quite the fortune but yet they still have much to prove to themselves and onlookers. The growing pains that will accompany new starters are to be expected but if Clady, Ware and Thomas do not tackle the expectations that come with their 2015 salaries the pressure will reach new heights in Broncos Country.

Email Sam at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @SamCowhick.

For complete coverage of the Denver Broncos here.