Rookie quarterback Brock Osweiler (6) sets to throw a pass during the Denver Broncos NFL football rookie minicamp at the team's training facility in Englewood, Colo., on Friday, May 11, 2012. Running back Ronnie Hillman (34) looks on at right. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
With training camp less than a month away, the Denver Broncos still have several contracts to get done.
The team has $10.87 million in cap space, according to PFT, and three players remain un-signed. Disgruntled kicker Matt Prater, rookie quarterback Brock Osweiler and running back Ronnie Hillman are negotiating multiple-year deals with the club.
Prater is seeking a five-year deal worth more than $3 million annually. The league’s highest paid kicker, Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski, makes $4 million a season.
Last week, reports surfaced that the Broncos and Prater were “not far apart” in contract negotiations. The reality of the situation is that Prater is willing to — and may — holdout into training camp, which opens on July 26th.
The team and Prater reportedly are talking, which is a good sign. Eventually, a deal should get done.
In the meantime, the team has kicked the tires of running back LaDainian Tomlinson and are working on a four-year deal with another running back, Ronnie Hillman. According to ESPN, Hillman and the Broncos have had “back and forth” talks on the 25% rookie salary max increase rules. To the best of my knowledge, the league’s CBA limits rookie salary increases to 25%, but agents find loopholes in the system by putting easily attainable performance incentives that increase his clients salary without breaking the 25% max increase rule.
For example, Hillman’s agent, Eugene Parker, may be trying to jack up his clients contract with salary advances, performance escalators, workout bonuses and roster bonuses, with little guaranteed money, but opportunity for Hillman’s salary to increase. The Broncos have been “getting tough” in contract negotiations and fleeced Nate Irving on his rookie deal last year, with the third round linebacker earning $465,000 instead of the $512,188 which he could have earned under rookie salary rules.
Parker, Hillman’s agent, is probably trying to prevent his client from receiving a similar deal. In the end, Hillman will probably receive a deal worth around $3 million with a signing bonus worth around $500,000.
Hillman’s rookie teammate, Brock Osweiler, is likely hoping to receive deal better than the $3.04 million contract Mikel Leshoure signed with Detroit last year. After buying an entire Bed Bath and Beyond store, Osweiler could use the extra cash.
Because he is a quarterback, Osweiler’s signing bonus will likely be more than doubled that of Hillman’s, possibly surpassing $100,000 with over $1.5 million in guarantees. Unlike Prater, however, Osweiler and Hillman will have no reason to holdout during training camp and may even be signed before then.
Before the season starts, all three players will likely be under contract. The season is 77 days, 22 hours, 20 minutes, 38 seconds and 971 milliseconds away, though. And counting down the milliseconds can make things seem so far away. Is it August yet?