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  1. #1
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    Our "Not so Denver" Broncos

    Get ready for a long one, folks!
    I wrote up this informal and sloppy little “article” a few days ago, after seeing some very interesting info, at overthecap.com. There are some good numbers in here, so try to suffer along with me for a little while, and maybe even learn some good stuff Let’s start off with some good ol’ fashioned inflammation…:

    The Broncos are now a “mercenary” team. We are less about the Denver Broncos, and more about signing every old, nearly-washed up free agent we can get our hands on. When Manning signed with us, the hidden cost was abandoning the natural development and evolution of our team, in order to “win now”, which we’ve clearly failed to do.

    Because of Manning’s age and lingering health issues, the urgency of “win now!” overcame the powers that be, and we’ve turned ourselves into a team with no identity (other than Manning), poor leadership, and a very backwards-built team, going into the future. Maybe Kubiak can save us, but I’m not so sure.

    In other threads I’ve visited, some people have disagreed with me on using “mercenary” to describe our team. So I decided to do a little research of my own. I wanted to see what information I could find, and if it confirmed or denied my suspicions on the “rent-to-win” nature of our team. Well… the numbers I found were somehow far worse than I even imagined. At the website Overthecap.com, I found our 2014 roster and cap figures, and the numbers were alarming, to say the least.

    Here are our top 6 highest cap hit contracts, and some relevant stats.

    Peyton Manning 17,500,000
    Demarcus Ware 9,666,666
    Ryan Clady 8,600,000
    Aqib Talib 7,906,250
    Wes Welker 7,647,059
    Louis Vasquez 7,250,000
    Total 58,569,975
    "Mercenary" Total 49,969,975
    % of cap spent on "mercenaries" 38.4%
    Players over 7mil 6
    Self drafted 1
    By "mercenary", I'm referring to Manning, and high cost FA's signed since 2012.

    First of all, 5 of our top 6 contracts go to Manning and the “mercenary” free agents we’ve signed since 2012. This is essentially money that we’ve taken from our own up and coming stars, and handed out to other teams’ castoffs.

    The most alarming thing to note about these numbers is that we’re paying nearly 40% of our cap limit on these “mercenary” free agents. 38.4% of our team’s resources are going to 5 players! Not only are these guys taking up all of our cap space, but we’re also the team with the most money allocated to its top 6 contracts! This shows that we’re foregoing the concept of “team play”, and a balanced roster, and we’re trying to overpay a small handful of “superstars” to carry the team.

    The hidden cost of this “bind” we’re in is the sacrifice of our team leadership. 5 out of our top 6 contracts were paid out to guys who hadn’t even been on the team more than a year. When our “leaders” are short timers, and come from other “questionable” organizations, how can we expect to have any stabilizing leaders in the locker room. Consider this: we took one “choker” from a team that choked nearly every single year in the playoffs, for a decade and a half. We got one veteran from Dallas, one of the most mediocre and consistently dysfunctional teams in the league. 2 others, we took from the Patriots, the most dishonest, cheating team in the league. Where is this super bowl caliber leadership we’re supposed to be buying?

    For all of the talk that Elway makes about our “Denver Broncos Culture of Winning”, he sure isn’t doing much to cultivate it, and even seems to be actively undermining it. What would all of these mercenaries, with their questionable backgrounds, know about Broncos culture?

    Well… this is just the nature of free agency, right? I mean, a lot of players switch teams all the time, and we’ve kinda lost some of that home town identity we used to get, back in the day, right?

    Well, I dug deeper, and found the same statistics for 4 other “stalwart” teams in the league. I picked the 4 teams that I consider solid and well managed, and here is what I found.
    Total "Mercenary" Cost Cap Spent on "Mercenaries" Players over 7m Self Drafted
    Denver 58,569,975 49,969,975 38.4% 6 1
    San Fran. 37,658,154 0 0 2 5
    Baltimore 45,125,000 6,575,000 6.7% 4 4
    Seattle 48,288,212 9,750,000 8.6% 4 4
    New Eng. 44,573,333 11,700,000 9.8% 3 4


    Out of all of these teams, we are literally the worst in every single category. The second highest “mercenary” buying team spent not even 10% of its cap on its top “rental” players. 10%, compared to nearly 40%! It’s just astounding! We hand out the most money to the fewest players, and give them by far the largest portion of our cap. We break the bank for free agents, and we neglect our own home grown drafted players.

    Every single stat.

    Dead last.

    It was an eye opening discovery for me, to say the least.

    Well, that about wraps it up! I didn’t really get to touch on the whole “draft vs free agency” debate on team building, and there’s plenty more I missed, but this post can’t go on forever.

    I’m sure there will be some sort of disagreement here, and I’m eager to hear it. Perhaps I can be accused of cherry picking…?

    There are more rebuttals out there, waiting for me. But I think that these statistics are about as clear cut as they come. Let me know how you feel about these cold hard football facts, and we’ll see if I can’t win some hearts and minds out there!
    This post may or may not have been written while under the influence of alcohol, and I disclaim all responsibility for its contents, herein...

  2. #2
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    I didn't dig deeply into your numbers but - What if the Broncos won the Super Bowl last season?
    Red 98

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  3. #3
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    This would be a valid argument if we were losing home grown players, or if we were a middling to bad team spending in FA.

    Free agency isn't how you build a team. But it is how you make a really good team great. None of the signings you pointed out were bad signings. We were really really close to winning the big one due in main part to our 'mercenary' FAs.

    Until we lose a good drafted player due to the contracts we have given to free agents, this argument is invalid.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the great insight, if anything it will add fuel to the discussion no matter where people fall in the debate.

    Quote Originally Posted by dizzolve View Post
    I didn't dig deeply into your numbers but - What if the Broncos won the Super Bowl last season?
    That is a legitimate line of query only insofar as answers our efficiency. Had we won the numbers would still be the same but the debate would be different.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dizzolve View Post
    I didn't dig deeply into your numbers but - What if the Broncos won the Super Bowl last season?
    Or the season before, and let's not forget that the Super Bowl winning broncos if the 90s were one on the oldest teams in the league. Wasn't Romanowski like 67 when we signed him. Lol jk

  6. #6
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    John Elway is quoted as describing it as 'Winning Now On' as opposed to 'winning now'.

    Again -you might have a good point. I don't delve too deeply into the cap stuff personally so I wouldn't know. Obviously John Elway is going to have a different method since he's not coming from the normal GM path (as Chris Landry would say) so this free agent MO might part of this unique way.

    I am uncomfortable with some of our free agents but I'm not sure if that's just a product of my own expectations. For instance, Talib and Ward have not lived up to my expectations. I never really thought Talib was quite as good as some color guys claim. Not saying he's terrible just saying that ever since he's been categorized apart from the field, I haven't seen why all the hype. He has really good games, but he offsets those with bad ones too. JDR further clouds this evaluation though.

    I think our most problem FA right now is Ryan Clady. He's not the same player that he used to be since he was injured. Maybe going to zone blocking (which was the system in place when he was drafted) could revitalize his career. But this is a risky sign I think. The bad part of this is that Clady is one of our best OL and our OL isn't that great. Again, the change to ZB could make all the difference. I don't know
    Red 98

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  7. #7
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    As many of you know there was this unspoken "arms race" between the Broncos and Patriots during the off season.

    About 2 weeks ago on one of the sports shows in Boston they actually compared the contracts and the signings between the 2 teams. We all know how the fans and media always want the Patriot way to be the best in everything and for us to have come out as losers.

    While I don't remember all the numbers, I was surprised that in going through our free agent contracts - minus Manning's, they said that Elway has done a great job in building a team through the draft while signing some free agents with contracts that weren't hurting us or mortgaging our future. That it was possible that Elway was doing both and had done a great job at it.

    Now again, I don't know numbers, but I was surprised at their praise and their acknowledgement of Elway showing good contract management in winning from now on.

  8. #8
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    Not really confident in your numbers, gonna need to see those broken down more.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by dizzolve View Post
    I didn't dig deeply into your numbers but - What if the Broncos won the Super Bowl last season?
    I'd say that the stars were aligned for a near perfect walk to the superbowl. The afc was exceptionally weak last year, and even the Pats were just a shell of their normal selves.

    However, the beatdown/massacre we witnessed in the super bowl was exactly what you could expect of a team with no guts, poor coaching, and no leadership (on or off the field).

    Quote Originally Posted by BroncosFan2011 View Post
    This would be a valid argument if we were losing home grown players, or if we were a middling to bad team spending in FA.

    Free agency isn't how you build a team. But it is how you make a really good team great. None of the signings you pointed out were bad signings. We were really really close to winning the big one due in main part to our 'mercenary' FAs.

    Until we lose a good drafted player due to the contracts we have given to free agents, this argument is invalid.
    Moreno, Decker, Beadles, Watson, Tebow, etc... We're bound to lose at least 1 or several of our guys this year, also. There are plenty, even if some of their contributions are debatable.

    Quote Originally Posted by broncoslover115 View Post
    As many of you know there was this unspoken "arms race" between the Broncos and Patriots during the off season.

    About 2 weeks ago on one of the sports shows in Boston they actually compared the contracts and the signings between the 2 teams. We all know how the fans and media always want the Patriot way to be the best in everything and for us to have come out as losers.

    While I don't remember all the numbers, I was surprised that in going through our free agent contracts - minus Manning's, they said that Elway has done a great job in building a team through the draft while signing some free agents with contracts that weren't hurting us or mortgaging our future. That it was possible that Elway was doing both and had done a great job at it.

    Now again, I don't know numbers, but I was surprised at their praise and their acknowledgement of Elway showing good contract management in winning from now on.
    I did put up the Patriot's "mercenary" numbers in my chart, for this exact reason. The Patriots have a surprising amound of homegrown players contributing, and Revis was their only "big" mercenary type signing.

    The talking heads will babble on about "draft vs FA" without actually contributing anything of substance to the discussion. They're just filling airtime and hitting easily approved "talking points". From the data I found at overthecap.com, we are clearly and undeniably "building" via free agency, with very little draft contribution, especially when compared to other successful franchises.
    This post may or may not have been written while under the influence of alcohol, and I disclaim all responsibility for its contents, herein...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Papa-pwn View Post
    Not really confident in your numbers, gonna need to see those broken down more.
    You'll have to be more specific, please

    Everything I've used can be found easily at overthecap.com. Go there, click on the "DEN" link, then click the 2014 roster. The same is available for all other teams as well.

    I did my best to avoid any typos or inaccuracies, so that people couldn't throw out the main point, over a nitpicky typo or two.
    This post may or may not have been written while under the influence of alcohol, and I disclaim all responsibility for its contents, herein...

  11. #11
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    There's huge leaps in logic and projecting your values onto others that go beyond numbers.

    I'm struggling to find why having a "mercenary" team is a bad thing? Even taking your numbers at face-value and any potential cherry-picking, going from "leading the league" to being "worst" in it is a value judgment, and not one I agree with . It's your own subjective and ill-defined metric (and SF doesn't have any free agents since 2012?). What does "washed up" mean? Do you mean four free agent acquisitions this season that went to the pro bowl? And Manning who lit the record book on fire just a year ago? What about drafted players who have been less successful- do we ignore them because your paradigm of a good team is a "home grown" one?

    And none of this says anything about the success of drafted players, if your value system is to put "home grown" players on a pedestal (which never made much sense to me either, it's not like everyone went to high school and college in Denver). The relevant metric would then be some ratio of starting drafted players to free agents (or at least "mercenaries" which just seems like the free agents you don't like).

    Just because we didn't win the super bowl isn't good reason to make stuff up. We've been the standard of the AFC right along with NE for the last three years. Another interpretation is that we have an ambitious GM that has created a successful model.
    Last edited by cmc0605; 01-26-2015 at 03:58 PM.

  12. #12
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    There are also a lot of players that will be playing a big part in Denver next year who were drafted (or UDFA) by the Broncos. I'd be worried if Denver were trying to put together a team that was completely free agents, like the Shanahan days, but they've put together a young group and for the most part they signed older vets to come in and try to push the team over the top.

    This isn't a 4-12 team looking for a quick fix (Raiders), with the exception of Manning and Clady all of those players were added after a 13-3 season (2 of them) in an attempt to get the Broncos over the hump.

  13. #13
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    I think your numbers are based off a snapshot rather than the reality.

    First:
    Would we be better off paying Decker last year more than we paid Sanders? I don't think so, but that would have been a top 6 salary over 7M, and we could have checked another "Self drafted". Same could be done with Beadles if we had preferred to pay him over going out and signing say Ward. Just signing self drafted players does not mean they are better players.

    Second:

    Wes Welker and D Ware are short term contracts and had no effect on our ability to keep our own. Welker is off the books now and Ware is structured to be off the books next year. I would like to know what player we could not afford to pay because of these two short term contracts? We were never going to pay Beadles, WW would have only blocked Trev, and then their was Ayers, Moreno, and who else?

    Lastly:

    Elway has not even had a draft class graduate yet. Decker, Bealdes, WW, Moreno, and everyone else lost to FA were not his drafted players. This year will be the first year his draft picks hit FA. So isn't it a little premature to say this FO is all about "mercenary signings"?

    My own thoughts are I don't care if we drafted a player or not, overpaying is how teams fall into mediocre. Paying Sanders and Ward and letting Decker and possibly Moore walk were great decisions. Paying more for Ware for 2 years vs going cheaper and keeping Ayers...a great decision.

    At the end of the day we are still a team that is in the top 10 in cap space and are even better shape in the following years when Manning and Ware depart next year. Win now is great when we don't hurt the cap and have other picks filling other holes.

    I would focus on the fact Harris got re-signed (not that you have his contract included in self drafted).

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Awesomo 2000 View Post

    The Broncos are now a “mercenary” team. We are less about the Denver Broncos, and more about signing every old, nearly-washed up free agent we can get our hands on. When Manning signed with us, the hidden cost was abandoning the natural development and evolution of our team, in order to “win now”, which we’ve clearly failed to do.

    Name one NFL team without free agent "mercenaries". Fact is, you cant. Plus you say we abandoned developing our own talent....umm......after the McD fiasco we DIDNT HAVE hardly any up and comers to abandon.

    Because of Manning’s age and lingering health issues, the urgency of “win now!” overcame the powers that be, and we’ve turned ourselves into a team with no identity (other than Manning), poor leadership, and a very backwards-built team, going into the future. Maybe Kubiak can save us, but I’m not so sure.

    In other threads I’ve visited, some people have disagreed with me on using “mercenary” to describe our team. So I decided to do a little research of my own. I wanted to see what information I could find, and if it confirmed or denied my suspicions on the “rent-to-win” nature of our team. Well… the numbers I found were somehow far worse than I even imagined. At the website Overthecap.com, I found our 2014 roster and cap figures, and the numbers were alarming, to say the least.

    Every NFL team is top heavy with just a few players taking the lion's share of the cap space. Your point?

    Shortly, DT will join this list. Will he be a "mercenary" now too, since he is about get his own megadeal? Plus, I suspect it is likely Welker has played his last a Bronco.


    By "mercenary", I'm referring to Manning, and high cost FA's signed since 2012.

    So what you're really saying while beating around the bush a bit before coming out to say it, is that Manning is the root cause of all our problems....

    First of all, 5 of our top 6 contracts go to Manning and the “mercenary” free agents we’ve signed since 2012. This is essentially money that we’ve taken from our own up and coming stars, and handed out to other teams’ castoffs.

    Again, at the time we HAD NO up and comers, other than DT. He is about to get his due..so...

    The most alarming thing to note about these numbers is that we’re paying nearly 40% of our cap limit on these “mercenary” free agents. 38.4% of our team’s resources are going to 5 players! Not only are these guys taking up all of our cap space, but we’re also the team with the most money allocated to its top 6 contracts! This shows that we’re foregoing the concept of “team play”, and a balanced roster, and we’re trying to overpay a small handful of “superstars” to carry the team.

    Hardly. We needed help in a couple areas, and the draft wasnt going to provide that. Hence, signing free agents. I have zero doubts the idea was for just a couple players to carry the whole team, thats pretty over the top. otherwise we wouldnt have guys like Chris Harris, Von Miller, Malik Jackson, CJ Anderson, and so on

    The hidden cost of this “bind” we’re in is the sacrifice of our team leadership. 5 out of our top 6 contracts were paid out to guys who hadn’t even been on the team more than a year. When our “leaders” are short timers, and come from other “questionable” organizations, how can we expect to have any stabilizing leaders in the locker room. Consider this: we took one “choker” from a team that choked nearly every single year in the playoffs, for a decade and a half. We got one veteran from Dallas, one of the most mediocre and consistently dysfunctional teams in the league. 2 others, we took from the Patriots, the most dishonest, cheating team in the league. Where is this super bowl caliber leadership we’re supposed to be buying?

    So what you are saying now, is that we need to fire John Elway? He's the one that put this together, and if it is THAT horrible, then getting rid of the guy that did this horrific screw job to the team, would be the answer, right?

    For all of the talk that Elway makes about our “Denver Broncos Culture of Winning”, he sure isn’t doing much to cultivate it, and even seems to be actively undermining it. What would all of these mercenaries, with their questionable backgrounds, know about Broncos culture?

    I'n in, where's the tar and feathers?

    Well… this is just the nature of free agency, right? I mean, a lot of players switch teams all the time, and we’ve kinda lost some of that home town identity we used to get, back in the day, right?

    Well, I dug deeper, and found the same statistics for 4 other “stalwart” teams in the league. I picked the 4 teams that I consider solid and well managed, and here is what I found.

    One must remember..as stated before....that when Elway took over WE HAD NO TALENT. If you're going to take a shot at winning the SB, you have to have the talent. With very little on the roster, that leaves one option.


    Out of all of these teams, we are literally the worst in every single category. The second highest “mercenary” buying team spent not even 10% of its cap on its top “rental” players. 10%, compared to nearly 40%! It’s just astounding! We hand out the most money to the fewest players, and give them by far the largest portion of our cap. We break the bank for free agents, and we neglect our own home grown drafted players.

    What homegrown players??? When Elway took over WE HAD NONE!..other than DT, who is about to get his own megadeal.

    Every single stat.

    Dead last?.

    Horse pucky. The only stat that really counts is winning games. How many teams have won more games over the last 3 years?? Granted, we havent won a SB, but you have to win the rest of the time to get a shot at that. Total bull we are dead last.

    It was an eye opening discovery for me, to say the least.

    Actually I suspect, you found exactly what you wanted. Something you can blame on Manning. Just MHO.

    Thing is, your angst is misplaced. You really should be calling for Elway's head on a platter, after all, he's the one who took this team from being the laughingstock of the league, took it off the scrap pile that McD left it in and built a legitimate playoff contender in just a couple years.

    Well, that about wraps it up! I didn’t really get to touch on the whole “draft vs free agency” debate on team building, and there’s plenty more I missed, but this post can’t go on forever.

    And Elway and everyone else in the front office has been working to build through the draft. But when you're left with no talent, you have to find it somewhere, because you are not going to build a playoff team solely through the draft in just a year or two. Not gonna happen.

    I’m sure there will be some sort of disagreement here, and I’m eager to hear it. Perhaps I can be accused of cherry picking…?

    There are more rebuttals out there, waiting for me. But I think that these statistics are about as clear cut as they come. Let me know how you feel about these cold hard football facts, and we’ll see if I can’t win some hearts and minds out there!
    Its the same arguments you've been making. And you're going to get the same answers as before.
    Last edited by MH Stampede; 01-26-2015 at 04:24 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Awesomo 2000 View Post
    I'd say that the stars were aligned for a near perfect walk to the superbowl. The afc was exceptionally weak last year, and even the Pats were just a shell of their normal selves.

    However, the beatdown/massacre we witnessed in the super bowl was exactly what you could expect of a team with no guts, poor coaching, and no leadership (on or off the field).



    Moreno, Decker, Beadles, Watson, Tebow, etc... We're bound to lose at least 1 or several of our guys this year, also. There are plenty, even if some of their contributions are debatable.



    I did put up the Patriot's "mercenary" numbers in my chart, for this exact reason. The Patriots have a surprising amound of homegrown players contributing, and Revis was their only "big" mercenary type signing.

    The talking heads will babble on about "draft vs FA" without actually contributing anything of substance to the discussion. They're just filling airtime and hitting easily approved "talking points". From the data I found at overthecap.com, we are clearly and undeniably "building" via free agency, with very little draft contribution, especially when compared to other successful franchises.
    If you didn't listen to the show, you have no idea what you are talking about. They actually spent 3 hours of the show going indepth through each team's contracts. The entire show was dedicated to it. It wasn't babble or dribble or easily approved talking points. And it was extremely substantive. The contracts they discussed were:

    NE - Revis, Browner, LaFell, Wright
    DEN - Ware, Ward, Aqib, Sanders

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