Two very important roster decisions loom for the Broncos

[get_snippet] [theme-my-login show_title=0]
Credit: Ron Chenoy—USA TODAY Sports

DENVER — The Denver Broncos are on the clock.

A month and a half before the Broncos decide who to select with the No. 5 overall pick in April’s draft, they’ll have to make two decisions regarding whether two current high profile players—one on each side of the ball—will be joining this year’s draft class on the 2018 roster.

By Mar. 14 at 2:00 pm MST—the end of the 2017 NFL league year—John Elway and Co. will need to decide whether to exercise options in Demaryius Thomas and/or Chris Harris Jr.’s contracts.

If the team decides to pick up each individual players option, they’ll be on the team next season. If not, however, that player, or players, will become free agents at 2:00 pm MST on Mar. 14. Starting this past Friday, Feb. 9, the team can exercise either of these options, giving them over a month to decide the fate of Thomas and Harris.

In Harris’ case, the decision to exercise his $1.1 million option seems like a no-brainer. If the Broncos pick up this option, Harris will have a base salary of $7.4 million next season.

The 28-year old has been one of the best cornerbacks in the league the past few years, yet his $10.37 million cap hit for 2018 would be only the 13th-highest in the league among cornerbacks. If, for some reason, Denver were to not pick up the option and move on from the three-time Pro Bowler in his prime, Denver would save $7.63 million in cap space and only have $2.73 million in dead money against the cap.

For Thomas, the decision on whether to exercise his option isn’t as easy. If the Broncos exercise his $4 million option, it would pick up the final two years of his contract valued at a combined $22.5 million.

While Thomas has had a magnificent career with the Broncos since being drafted in the first round of 2010—as he’s in the top three in many of the franchise's career receiving records—his numbers have taken a dip the past two years since Peyton Manning retired.

On top of that, he would have cap hits of $12.03 million this year and $17.53 million in 2019—which would currently be the second-largest cap hit for a receiver, only behind Antonio Brown.

Of course, the Broncos could take a third-option with either player and try to restructure their contract, but that would require an agreement by both the player and the team, which is certainly not a guarantee.

Thomas and Harris are two of the longest-tenured players in the organization—with Thomas being the longest—and each are a respected leader on their side of the ball. However, after a disappointing 5-11 season, many personnel changes are expected.

One additional roster note: On Friday, Donald Stephenson’s contract was voided, making him a free agent this year. Although he won’t be on the Broncos, he will have $1 million in dead money against the cap in 2018.

Not subscribed yet? Click below to for full access: