The San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos have stalled on trade talks over the last couple weeks, and there appears to be no end in sight. Over the weekend, we did finally see a move that could impact all this. The Broncos traded Ryan Clady to the New York Jets.
The deal cleared $8.9 million in cap space, which puts them somewhere around $9 million in cap space. That's not enough for Colin Kaepernick's current salary, but it puts them in position to get a deal done if the two sides can agree on a restructured contract.
The Broncos could still make a deal happen, even if they do not restructure Kaepernick's $11.9 million 2016 base salary, along with his $2 million in roster bonus and $400,000 in workout bonus. Denver has a very easy way to clear further space for a Kaepernick trade. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas's contract has a $15.2 million cap figure for 2016. That includes $13 million in base salary and $2.2 million in prorated signing bonus money. His contract includes an automatic conversion clause that allows them to convert any portion of his 2016 base salary into a signing bonus.
If the Broncos executed this clause, the signing bonus would be prorated over the final four years of the contract. So, if they converted $12 million of the $13 million into a signing bonus, it would be a cap hit of $3 million per year. That would make Thomas's 2016 salary cap figure $6.2 million instead of $15.2 million. That number would include a $1 million base salary, the previous $2.2 million in prorated signing bonus, and then $3 million in new prorated signing bonus money. The Broncos would clear $9 million just like that.
All this is to say, the Broncos can clear additional cap space easily, if they want. Of course, I think we all know this is not really about cap space. John Elway thinks he can get a discount on Colin Kaepernick's contract, and seems content to wait this out. All three sides of this issue are trying to leverage the other sides, and at times it is so ridiculous it's kind of entertaining. At least, that's what I tell myself to avoid going crazy.