ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- After a two-day minicamp for the team’s rookies, the Denver Broncos will now fold the rookies into the team’s offseason workouts Monday.
To sign that rookie class before training camp will expend much of the Broncos’ current salary-cap space, but executive vice president of football operations John Elway said following the draft, “We know what we need to do and how we need to get there, and I’ve kind of got my eye on next year too."
As of the close of business Friday, the Broncos, according to NFL Players Association figures, had $7.201 million worth of salary-cap space. Until the week before the regular season, only the team’s top 51 contracts count against the cap.
The Broncos selected eight players in the draft, including quarterback Paxton Lynch in the first round. And it’s possible that all eight picks would have contracts that count among the team’s top 51. If that was the case, the Broncos would need about $5.5 million worth of cap space for those deals.
The Broncos will sign their picks in the coming weeks to four-year deals that are largely slotted by where the players were selected in the draft with the exception of Lynch, who will have a fifth-year option on his rookie deal because he was selected in the first round.
The Broncos also continue to work toward a long-term deal with linebacker Von Miller, which will require plenty of cash reserves to pay the up-front money that deal will require. So the Broncos are in both cap and cash limbo for a bit until they do, or don’t, sign Miller to a deal.
Elway has said Miller’s contract, beyond the slotted rookie deals, is the team’s priority at the moment. Potential long-term deals for linebacker Brandon Marshall and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders are also considerations once Miller’s deal is decided.
The Broncos have a July 15 deadline to get Miller a long-term deal before the coming season. If they don’t get it done, Miller would have to play under the guidelines of the franchise-player tender -- a one-year, guaranteed contract for just over $14 million -- and the two sides would have to wait until next year to start talks again.
“That’s first," Elway said. “That’s a cap and a cash issue... But I still feel like we can get something done."
The Broncos can create just over $9 million of additional salary-cap room by invoking a clause that's already in Demaryius Thomas' contract -- it turns most of his base salary for 2016 into signing bonus -- but it remains a possibility the Broncos may have to release a veteran player or two if the team's decision-makers believe they need to carve out some additional room.