The Denver Broncos are in desperate need of a quality signal caller after a miserable 5-11 season with subpar quarterback play. By all accounts General Manager John Elway plans to make a significant pitch to attract Kirk Cousins, the soon to be a free agent and ex-Washington Redskins quarterback.

Cousins made $24 million in 2017. It is has been estimated he could command $30 million per year in free agency.

Other Teams Have More Available Salary Cap to Pay Cousins

One competitor for Kirk Cousins' services is the New York Jets who have almost $100 million in available cap space.

Another competitor is the Minnesota Vikings with about $50 million in available cap space. The Vikings would be serious Super Bowl contenders with a highly rated quarterback like Cousins.

How the Broncos Salary Cap is Calculated

Then there are the Denver Broncos with about $23.3 million in available cap space.

The initial problem Denver has is some of the cap space must be spent on draft picks. The salary paid for draft picks is set by the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement. Denver currently has ten draft picks with a total cap hit of roughly $11 million. The Broncos top pick, #5 in the first round, will cost the team $5 million in rookie salary. On the other hand, those rookies will replace current players on the roster.

Assuming minimum salaried players of about $500,000 each being cut, the net salary cap hit from the draft will be about $6 million.

Additionally, the Broncos need to sign their free agents whose salaries are not yet on the roster. The cost will be about $5 million.

That leaves Denver with about $12.3 million in real cap space.

The team will also need to reserve money for practice squad players. Assume $1.3 million which puts the available cap down to $11 million.

Finally, players put on injured reserve count against the cap. Conservatively, and hoping for few injuries, assume two players are put on IR during the year and replaced with new minimum salary replacements.

The cost is $1 million. Figure the Broncos have $10 million in available cap space.

Players Denver Needs to Cut to Afford Kirk Cousins

How does the team sign a $30 million quarterback? Or, even if Cousins takes a couple million less, that still leaves hardly anything to sign any other good free agent.

$21.8 M in savings from cuts the team can make:

$11 M by cutting Aqib Talib. ($12 million salary less a $1 million dead money hit)

$4.5 M by cutting C.J. Anderson.

$4.4 M by cutting Menelik Watson. ($7.1 million salary less $2.7 million dead money hit)

$1.9 M by cutting Trevor Siemian.

The big loss is obviously Aqib Talib, a shut-down cornerback who cannot be realistically replaced. The trade-off is a better offense and quarterback for a lesser defense. Due to what transpired this last year expect the Broncos to make that deal.