Teams put a premium on protecting the quarterback more than ever in pro football. That is why offensive linemen, particularly left tackles, get paid the big bucks. Ryan Clady knows this well and has made it clear whatever his team has offered so far isn’t enough. That could mean he intends to play out his franchise tag contract and bolt for 2014 NFL free agency.
Denver Broncos eager to lock up Clady for Peyton Manning
Everyone knew the Denver Broncos had no intention of letting Clady hit the open market in 2013. He was the best left tackle available and next to Joe Thomas in Cleveland one of the best in the league. That is why they made him their franchise player. There is nobody better to protect the blind side of Peyton Manning as he works to overcome the disappointment of their early playoff exit against Baltimore. The problem is reaching common ground on the contract. Clady has repeatedly been stubborn on the numbers. No amount of threat or pleas have deterred him. He’s already begun the process of a possible holdout by announcing he will skip the Broncos mandatory minicamp practices. Regardless, Clady could elect to repeat what he did last season by playing out the year. If he produces another Pro Bowl his value will be sky high. At that point either Denver will pay closer to his price or somebody in free agency will.
Colts still searching for line help for Andrew Luck
One such team that should sit in good position to do that is the Indianapolis Colts. Based on early projections for next season they could have over $34 million in salary cap space. That is more than enough for a big free agent signing and finding protection for prized quarterback Andrew Luck ranks as top priority in the draft. Indianapolis did what they good over the 2013 off-season to improve the shoddy protection Luck had in 2012. They signed Donald Thomas at guard and Gosder Cherilus at right tackle, both experienced and capable players. The hope for the Colts is that 2011 first round pick Anthony Costanzo lives up to the promise they saw in him coming out of Boston College. So far the results are mixed. If he struggles again in 2013 then it falls to the team front office go out and find somebody good enough to give the Pro Bowler more time. Ryan Clady will rank near the top if he reaches the market next season. They can and should pay him when that time comes.
The Denver Broncos know they have work to do if they want their franchise left tackle to stay. Whether he wants to go somewhere else with the career of Peyton Manning winding down is the biggest factor in how the scenario plays out.