DENVER -- The puzzle pieces remain scattered as the Broncos attempt to picture next season's roster.
We know they will seek an upgrade at quarterback -- Kirk Cousins anyone? -- and need multiple additions to caffeinate an offense that ranked 27th in points scored at 18.1. Will that lead to subtractions?
It is expected the front office will request multiple players to restructure their contracts or take paycuts. As such, receiver Demaryius Thomas becomes an interesting case. He ranks as one of the Broncos' all-time greats, and should land in the Ring of Fame someday. But a wrinkle in his contract makes him vulnerable this offseason.
Thomas' contract contains a $4 million option bonus due by the last day of the league year on March 14. If the Broncos decline to exercise it, the final two seasons of Thomas' contracts are voided, making him a free agent. The dead money makes this interesting. It would be $4.4 million less a $1.33 million cap charge already absorbed for one-third of the bonus.
Translation: the dead cap money would be $3.07 million. Is that a manageable figure? It's a fair question if the Broncos want to allocate their money differently this offseason. Thomas, 30, is due to make $8.5 million in base salary next season. He is the longest-tenured Broncos player. However, last season he failed to eclipse 1,000 yards for the first time since 2011, and his 11.4 yards per reception represented a career-low.
In fairness, the quarterback carousel -- six separate changes between Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch -- undermined Thomas and the receiving crew. But Thomas' age and declining production the last three seasons create a situation worth monitoring as the Broncos try to rebound and reconstruct their roster.