Business in the NFL can largely turn into a game of chicken when it comes to contract talks. Left tackle Ryan Clady and the Denver Broncos appear headed in that direction with no new deal and free agency creeping closer.
Peyton Manning presence makes Clady number one priority
Windows for championship runs open and close very fast in the modern NFL. Fans and experts need look no further than Denver, Colorado for a shining example. The Broncos made it clear they were gunning for the Lombardi when they traded Tim Tebow and put a rehabbing Peyton Manning in charge of their offense. If the four-time MVP can regain his old form then the choice was obvious, but part of that success comes with making sure Manning has help around him. Many think the receivers like Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas will thrive, while a noisy few nervously keep pointing at the unresolved contract dispute between Pro Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady and the front office. Clady becomes a free agent in February next season and knows barring an injury his stock will go high. The Denver Broncos know this too and have made big efforts to lock him up without success. Unless they offer more money, they may see him leave or have to trade him. The number of teams that will jump into the sweepstakes isn't small either.
Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons among teams that need him
Part of the reason Denver will have a hard time keeping Clady isn't money. While it usually tops the list, a big contract doesn't tell the story of a player. Part of it has to do with a long-term future of success. While Manning gives the Broncos their best chance to win in 2012, he is still in his 14th year. To a young player like Clady that doesn't bode well for down the road. If this coming season doesn't go well there are a number of teams who can offer the money and future security. Topping the list are the Chicago Bears. Not only do they have a glaring need at left tackle, but their quarterback is the 28-year-old Jay Cutler, Clady's former teammate. Another major player in the left tackle market is the Atlanta Falcons. Their quarterback, Matt Ryan, leads a talent-rich offense ready for deep playoff runs for the next few years but lack that talent on the offensive line. Clady would find his wallet and peace of mind fulfilled if he joined either team.
Ryan Clady knows the score with Denver. As long as Peyton Manning is quarterback they need a star at left tackle. With teams like the Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons combing for players like him, they better up the dollar signs soon or risk him leaving.