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Broncos04Champs
10-08-2005, 06:00 AM
Source: http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_ylt=As78.14MZl7Ly42oQZySuGyE2bYF?slug=knight-_WWW_0-1299-DRMN_17_41427&prov=knight&type=lgns



Win might go a long way

Lee Rasizer, Rocky Mountain News
October 8, 2005

Long-term advantage for Broncos could be reflected come draft day
ENGLEWOOD - The Denver Broncos could double dip Sunday.

Beat Washington and they'll retain their spot atop the AFC West with a 4-1 record. At the same time, a side benefit is that one of the No. 1 picks they've stockpiled for next spring also would increase in value.

Denver traded the 25th overall selection to the Redskins on April 19 in a predraft deal that netted Washington's first- and fourth-round picks in 2006 and a third-round pick this year.
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Washington ended up taking Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell with the pick it acquired.

For the Broncos, the trade went beyond numbers. It morphed into a long-term fiscal plan to create something of a perfect storm this off-season.

Denver already has four first-day picks among its nine selections in April, and probably two more high compensatory picks still to come from losing starters Kenoy Kennedy and Reggie Hayward in free agency.

They've never used two No. 1 selections in team history but can pluck two top prospects if they so choose, or maneuver to stockpile more choices in the future.

The stockpile of picks comes at a time when the team's salary cap finally is free of some of the debilitating "dead money" that has resulted from poor free-agency decisions and unanticipated, career-ending injuries.

Denver was liable for $13 million for a half-dozen players released in 2003, and total outlays of about $16.4 million in 2004 and $11.8 million this season. Next year, the Broncos are only on the hook for less than $1 million for players already pared from the roster.

And while there's nearly $118 million committed to 2005 contracts - the total salary-cap allotment won't be known until at least December, but it could be about $90 million for 2006 - several deals on the books are options that have yet to be exercised, contracts that have reached thresholds to void or will be reconfigured or pared.

In other words, there's work to be done. Denver possibly will have to address the contracts of key players such as defensive stalwarts Gerard Warren, Trevor Pryce and Courtney Brown, along with left tackle Matt Lepsis and center Tom Nalen.

But the Broncos find themselves with more tools with which to work as they proceed financially and otherwise.

"There wasn't a conscious effort to make next year this windfall where we can build for the future, it just kind of happened," Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist said. "But any time you have leverage like that, it has to be a plus for you."

As for the possibility of having extra picks, nothing is cast in stone, with Sund- quist saying if the talent is there, the choices all could be made or perhaps rolled over to the subsequent year.

"Or," he said jokingly, "maybe we'll put them all together and trade for Herschel Walker."

Sundquist also downplayed the significance of next off-season but did say that the past several years, "roadblocks" seemed to interrupt the team's plans. At least for now, he said, those have been removed.

Among those impediments were the failed free-agent experiments with Daryl Gardener, Denard Walker, Kavika Pittman and Dale Carter, cutting ties with Brian Griese two years into his big-money deal, and the sudden losses of players such as Terrell Davis, Ed McCaffrey, John Mobley and Dan Neil.

The team painstakingly has tried to not repeat such failures where decision-making was involved.

It has spent the past several seasons trying to structure contracts with any potential character risks so that the cap won't be blown up if the player fails to pan out.

There also has been a conscious decision not to push too much money into seasons beyond the anticipated years of production by the players they sign and limit future options. The "dead money" situation also was emphasized.

"Part of our long-term plan was to bring that down and bring that into a situation where we felt comfortable," said Mike Bluem, who handles the salary cap as the team's director of football administration. "But every off-season has its challenges."

Added Sundquist: "I think above anything with regards to next year kind of falling into place was just having a philosophy and sticking with it."

The Broncos' planning normally begins about a year in advance of an upcoming season, and as far out as two or three years, when possible, though forecasting is limited because of fluid personnel and financial changes.

The trade with the Redskins was a prime example of such volatility.

Denver often dangles a No. 1 pick in trades. It just happened to find a willing partner this time around.

Bluem and Sundquist studied a breakdown of every trade that has been completed since 1995 and examined those deals to come up with an asking price in consultation with coach Mike Shanahan.

They projected about a half-dozen picks that figured to be available at No. 25 - and many were, in hindsight - and examined their immediate contribution against the long-range benefits of a trade.

"We got what we thought was right, and apparently the Redskins thought it was right, too," Bluem said. "Someone else could have a different take on it."

Many pundits believed Denver got the lopsided end of the deal, especially because the 2005 draft is leaner in prospects than what's projected for 2006, particularly in the first round.

The Redskins' thinking was, deal with the future when it comes.

The trade allowed Denver to use the cash it saved by not paying a No. 1 pick and budgeting it instead to bring Pryce back into the fold. At times this season, he has been a dominant force.

"It's always hard to strike deals. A lot of times there's talk. But no one pulls the trigger," Shanahan said. "But we feel good about it and Washington felt good about it. It's a win-win situation."

As for any future off-season bonanza, Shanahan is hesitant to predict one.

"I don't think along those terms until it happens," Shanahan said. "You've got an off-season to go through at the end of the season and you've got a procedure you go through every year. It's always nice to have a couple extra draft picks, and you're hoping when it's time, you get a couple good players out of it."

The Redskins have bucked some conventional thinking once, simply by starting the season fast. Many prognosticators figured them for one of the league's bottom dwellers. But projecting their immediate future didn't provide impetus on a trade from Denver's vantage point.

Bluem follows the Redskins periodically so he can gauge where their traded first-round pick might potentially fall in terms of budgeting. For planning purposes only, both top picks have been averaged out to a 10th and 25th pick to get a sense of what kind of cash outlay will be needed.

The collective bargaining agreement is set to expire after the 2007 season, and while talks have been ongoing to negotiate an extension, that could alter the landscape.

The thinking in the Broncos organization is more entrenched.

The average age on the Broncos roster is about 27, so an infusion of youth could help. But the team generally has relied on veteran players under Shanahan. Rebuilding isn't a mind-set the organization generally embraces. So just because Denver has more picks possibly at its disposal doesn't mean younger players will be the rage.

Sundquist, for one, won't be standing on his chair Sunday rooting against the Redskins for any reason other than he's a Broncos employee.

"From a business standpoint, yeah, you'd like it to be a high pick," he said. "But they kind of control that."

Strive for five

• Jeff Legwold's keys for the Broncos in their game Sunday against Washington:

1 You know me. Clinton Portis is no stranger to the Broncos. They know the speed, the quickness; they have seen the vision. Now they have to keep him from stealing their momentum.

2 Gather Moss. The Redskins have scored only four touchdowns in three games. But when they want the big stuff, they go to Santana Moss. Moss is shifty and runs well in traffic - work refined by his time as a punt returner. He also is second in the NFC in yards per catch, at 22.8.

3 Here they come. The Redskins are aggressive on defense. They'll put seven, eight and, when in the mood, even nine players along the line of scrimmage. And they want an offense to guess - incorrectly - which ones are coming after the quarterback. If the Broncos can't run the ball well enough to back them off, quarterback Jake Plummer is looking at a long day.

4 When the time is right. When a defense is that aggressive up front, it leaves one-on-one matchups down the field. There won't be much time for pump fakes, and the Redskins will try to put pressure right up the gut in Plummer's face, but some quick hits through the middle of the field could make for some big plays.

5 Don't tempt fate. The Redskins already have an improbable comeback - 14 points in the final 6 minutes of their win against Dallas - and an overtime win against the Seahawks on their 2005 résumé. If the Broncos let them hang around, the Broncos are likely to lose.

rasizerl@RockyMountainNews.com


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One thing is for sure, we are all anticipating Draft Day 2006...

Should be pretty wild around here, with the trade rumors swirling..

MileHighSpirit
10-08-2005, 07:23 AM
The great part is that our cap situation gets increasingly better after next year. If we can get through this there is clear sailing beyond. Hopefully we can find some way to keep our new D-line together. ...and with two first round picks we can get ourselves out of this perennial cap hole.

Thanks for posting the article.

Broncos04Champs
10-08-2005, 07:27 AM
I know some may call me a homer by saying I expect us to win the Superbowl this year... However...

I think that if we DO win it, and then go into next year with all these draft picks and everything, that would put us in a good position to repeat.

Dean
10-08-2005, 03:37 PM
I know some may call me a homer by saying I expect us to win the Superbowl this year... However...

I think that if we DO win it, and then go into next year with all these draft picks and everything, that would put us in a good position to repeat.

B-4-C you sure don't take any half steps do you. "I expect us to win the Superbowl." That is a pretty big bite to chew. My faith is not nearly as strong as yours. I merely hope we will win the Superbowl and I think we will go to the play offs.

I agree that any team that wins the Superbowl has a great chance of repeating. They already have the players, coaches, and scheme to go that far. :rolleyes:

Broncos04Champs
10-08-2005, 04:20 PM
B-4-C you sure don't take any half steps do you. "I expect us to win the Superbowl." That is a pretty big bite to chew. My faith is not nearly as strong as yours. I merely hope we will win the Superbowl and I think we will go to the play offs.

I agree that any team that wins the Superbowl has a great chance of repeating. They already have the players, coaches, and scheme to go that far. :rolleyes:

I know it is a big bite to chew. I just think that we have been close the last 2 years (10-6) and we have kept making improvements and since this training camp I have honestly expected us to win it all this year. I also want us to and hope we do, but because of off-season moves, Plummer being in his 3rd year and being more comfortable with the playbook,etc. etc. I do expect the superbowl...

What I was saying about repeating is basically.... usually when a team wins a superbowl, they don't have 2 first round picks the following year... so I'm saying those picks would put us in a BETTER chance to repeat than your average superbowl champion.

Momentum
10-08-2005, 04:43 PM
I can imagine how they reacted when Gibbs offered them the trade. We robbed them blind.