Woody Paige: Can the Broncos win with bargain basement QBs?

Posted at 1:28 PM, Jun 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-13 15:29:52-04

Half the teams in the NFL possess quarterbacks receiving more than $20 million in salaries. The Broncos are not one of those teams,. 

Get this!

The Broncos have four quarterbacks at minicamp this week who count a combined total of $3.7 in cap money.

In real cash, the Broncos probably will end up with three quarterbacks on the roster this season who make $880,741 (Paxton Lynch), $615,000 (Trevor Siemian) and $465,000 (Chad Kelly).

The fourth quarterback – Northern Colorado’s Kyle Sloter – has a slight chance of being on the practice squad at $117,000 (for the entire season). If he were on the regular-season roster (which isn’t happening), he would earn the same as Kelly ($465K).  Kelly probably will be assigned to the injured reserved list for the season, but would get his full amount.

So, the Broncos likely will go into the season with their two young quarterbacks – supposedly competing for the starting job now – both under $1 million in salaries.

Lynch, a first-round pick in 2016, got a pro rata signing bonus over four seasons that pushes his salary cap number to $2,153,707, while Siemian, who was given a small signing bonus when he was drafted in the seventh round of 2015, is at $628,196 against the cap.

In comparison, if Brock Osweiler sticks with the Browns, he will be paid $18 million.

Only three other teams in the league have quarterback salaries in the general vicinity of the Broncos. Two are in Texas; the other is in California waiting to move to Las Vegas.

But, with the Raiders, the situation could change before the season.  Derek Carr, in the final year of his rookie contract, is due to earn about $1.7 million. But the team and the player’s agent are negotiating a long-term extension. Carr says if the deal isn’t done by the regular-season opener, the matter will no longer be discussed until after the season.

The Raiders have to put Carr into the universe of Andrew Luck, the highest-paid player in the league after signing a contract last off-season that will pay him almost $25 million per year.

The Saints’ Drew Brees gets $24.3 million in 2017, about the same as the Cardinals’ Carson Palmer.

Peyton Manning reached a $19 mil plateau in his final season (2015) with $15 million in salary, after a cut of $4 million that he got back by winning the AFC Championship and the Super Bowl.

Here are the others, based on information from, USA Today and other reputable internet sports sites, in the $20-million-a-year Shave Club: Washington’s Kirk Cousins ($23.9 as a franchised player); Baltimore’s Joe Flacco ($22.1), Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers ($22 mil); Seattle’s Russell Wilson ($21.9 after signing a new pact before last season); Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger ($21.85); the Giants’ El Manning ($21 mil), the Chargers’ Philip Rivers ($21.8); Carolina’s Cam Newton ($20.76); Atlanta’s Matt Ryan ($20.75); and Tom Brady ($20.5 million).

Several other teams have crossed the $20 million threshold because of the $15 million-plus contracts of their starting quarterback and deals with backup quarterbacks.

For example, the Chicago Bears signed free agent Mike Glennon to a contract that calls for him to receive $15 mil in ’17. The Bears traded up to No. 2 in the recent draft to select Mitch Trubisky, who will get $7.3 million this season. So the Bears, who dumped Jay Cutler and his expensive salary, are now spending more on quarterbacks. They also have an injured Mark Sanchez.

Others in that category, with two or three or even four quarterbacks totaling $20 million-plus in salaries and bonuses, include the Dolphins (Ryan Tannehill, $19.25), Cleveland (Osweiler, if he stays), the Lions (Matt Stafford, $17.5), Kansas City (Alex Smith, $17 mil), the Vikings (Sam Bradford, $18 mil).

At the next level – in the $15 million range for their quarterbacks -- are the Bengals with Andy Dalton and the Bills with Tyrod Taylor.

Then, the third group includes teams with young, well-paid first-round pick quarterbacks of the past two years – Philadelphia (Carson Wentz, $6.68), the Los Angeles Rams (Jared Goff, $6.9), Tampa Bay (Jameis Winston, $6.34) and Tennessee (Marcus Mariota, $6.05).  Also in that realm are San Francisco (Brian Hoyer, $6 million), New York Jets (Josh McCown, $6 million) and Jacksonville (Blake Bortles, $5.1 million).

That leave four teams spending $5 million or less in cap count on quarterbacks on their rosters:

Raiders (Carr, Connor Cook and E.J. Manuel) -- $3.044.

Broncos (Lynch, Siemian, Kelly and Sloter) --   $3.78.

Texans (Deshawn Watson, Brandon Weeden, Tom Savage) -- $4.909.

Cowboys (Dak Prescott, Kellen Moore, Zac Dysert, Jameill Showers, Cooper Rush) -- $2.795. Amazing, considering Dallas has five QBs, including former Broncos draft choice and off-season free-agent signing Dysert. Prescott, of course, is a steal at $635,000, but he’s the highest paid of the bunch.

The three highest-paid quarterbacks didn’t reach the postseason last year.

Three of the four teams with the lowest QB payroll now did make the playoffs.

Only one didn’t. The Broncos.

Can they do it this season On The Cheap?