Broncos' salary cap agility helped by limiting dead money

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When it comes to managing the salary cap, Denver Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway has said “dead money just kills you.’’

That it does and the Broncos have one of the lowest “dead money’’ totals in the league as teams move through the opening days of training camp. Dead money is the salary cap charges that remain on a team’s books after a player is released.

It is, in the accounting, the leftover charges for signing bonuses on contracts, which for the salary cap are counted evenly each year over the life of the deal. When a player is released by a team, those salary cap charges for the signing bonus remain.

Get too much dead money on the books and it impacts a team’s ability to sign players.

And Elway, as well as Broncos director of football administration Mike Sullivan, have tried to keep the dead money charges to a minimum, even as the team is active in free agency, as it was in 2014 when the Broncos signed Aqib Talib, Emmanuel Sanders, T.J. Ward and DeMarcus Ware to large, multiyear deals.

As of Monday, after waiving tackle Connor Rains injured, the Broncos have $995,000 worth of dead money charges against their salary cap. This year’s cap is $143.28 million with $5.87 million additional space in rollover from last season.

The bulk of the Broncos’ dead money is the result of Matt Prater’s release -- $812,500 worth of dead money. The Broncos have a dead money charge of $166,668 for Manny Ramirez, who was traded during draft weekend. That’s 98 percent of the Broncos’ dead money total.

The rest is comprised of minimal charges from rookie free agents signed in 2014 who were released when the team’s roster went to 53 players.

Only the Cincinnati Bengals have less dead money charges on the cap than the Broncos.