ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Football love may be a many splendored thing, but it doesn't always come with the cash.
The Denver Broncos routinely profess their love for their players, and why not with this current group, since the roster represents the core of the defending Super Bowl champion. But decisions get made every offseason, including this one, and there are some Broncos who have tried to live with those decisions as they grind through the team's offseason workouts.
"I think everybody understands they do what they think they need to do to put the team on the field," running back C.J. Anderson said. "You understand the business side of it."
Anderson, linebacker Brandon Marshall and nose tackle Sylvester Williams each have been the center of a financial decision the Broncos made this offseason. And all three have each, at times, said they have had to try to push the emotion aside in those team decisions and get to work.
Anderson, for example, was initially tendered, as a restricted free agent, with the lowest level of offer ($1.671 million and no compensation to Broncos if Anderson had signed elsewhere). The tender raised some eyebrows around the league, including Anderson's, given Anderson was the Broncos' lead back in the Super Bowl. The Broncos took a risk another team would pounce, and one did when the Miami Dolphins initially signed Anderson to an $18 million offer sheet.
So, initially Anderson was surprised to receive the low tender, vowed to work through it as he got interest from a selection of teams and then said he was surprised the Broncos' matched the Dolphins' offer. Now he has put together what he called "easily my best offseason program ... I'll be at my best for camp and the season."
Then there's Marshall, who also got tendered as a restricted free agent, at $2.553 million for the coming season, but he was hoping for a long-term deal. So, he hasn't signed that tender, but he also hasn't stayed away from the Broncos' offseason program either.
Executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway has said it's important for the team to sign Marshall to a long-term deal, but that no other player is getting a long-term deal until the Broncos do or don't get something done with Von Miller before mid-July -- the deadline for players with the franchise tag to sign long-term deals before the coming season.
Instead of staying home with his frustration, Marshall has participated in the Broncos' program without a contract thus far as he and the Broncos agreed to a waiver that would cover Marshall if he were injured during the team's workouts.
"I love it here, I love it here, man," Marshall said this past week. "... I'm really all about ball, getting better and being with the team. When I look back at it, that's not me anyway, to stay away, that's not me. I feel comfortable being here."
Marshall continues to express confidence his patience, and that comfort level, will be rewarded.
And then there's Williams who, as a first-round pick in the 2013 draft, had a fifth-year option on his contract for the 2017 season. However, the Broncos elected not to engage that option, largely because of the $6.75 million price tag that came with it, a salary too high, the Broncos believed, for a rotation player in the defensive line.
"Pretty much they just said they love me and they love what I did last year and they thought the number was high for my position and the amount of snaps that I played," Williams said. "They pretty much just told me to keep working."
Now Williams is in a contract year, scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at season's end.
"I have to go out there and prove myself again," Williams said. "At the end of the day, the way I look at it is it benefited me. I'm just looking forward to the challenge of going out there and playing the best I can. ... The most important thing is I'm a Bronco for 2016 and I want to go out and compete for another championship and make this team the best it can be."
Said Anderson: "You realize you have to keep doing what got you here and do a little more. You have to control what you can control ... that's how you play, how you work. If you let that get to you, you're only affecting your ability to do what you need to do."