DENVER (AP/CBS4) — The Denver Broncos locked up Peyton Manning’s blindside protector Sunday, signing left tackle Ryan Clady to a five-year deal worth up to $57.5 million.
The Broncos and Clady have been at odds over a long-term contract for more than a year. Had he not signed by Monday, he would have played under a one-year, $9.823 million deal because of the franchise tag.
Instead, Clady has a deal that guarantees him at least $33 million and should keep him in Denver through the end of Manning’s playing days. It’s a better deal than the one the tackle turned down last season, when the guarantees the Broncos offered came in at about half of what he’ll make under his new contract.
Clady, a first-round draft pick in 2008, is still recovering from surgery to his right shoulder and is expected to miss the start of training camp, which begins July 25.
If he returns to full health, it will resolve one of Denver’s many issues on the offensive line.
Left guard Zane Beadles was the only starting offensive lineman to come out of last season unscathed. Orlando Franklin (toe, shoulder), Chris Kuper (ankle) and J.D. Walton (knee) also needed operations, and of the three, only Franklin was at full health during team minicamps this spring.
The Broncos signed Dan Koppen to fill in at center for Walton, who isn’t expected back until midseason. Their biggest free-agency signing outside of Wes Welker was right guard Louis Vasquez. If Kuper recovers from his second surgery in as many years, he’ll likely compete for a backup spot.
Denver Broncos Quotes (Ryan Clady Conference Call)
On agreeing to a new five-year contract with the Broncos
“Yes, I’m definitely glad to have the [contract] process over. Early in the offseason I thought it would get done. But there were times where I thought it possibly couldn’t get done, especially with the market being where it is, and other franchise players not really getting deals done. So, there was a time when I thought it wouldn’t get done, but [talks] definitely picked up this last week or so.”
On being recovered from shoulder surgery
“Yes. I think that was one of the things, that was probably a month ago, ‘Greek’ (Head Athletic Trainer Steve Antonopulos) came out and took me out and I went down for a trip to Dr. Andrews as well. I think that had a part in the movement of getting the deal done.”
On what the new contract does for his game
“Staying in one place and one system definitely helps. I definitely want to continue to try to get better and improve this team.”
On contact with G Chris Kuper and C J.D. Walton and their respective recoveries
“I’ve been in contact with the two of them. I just talked to J.D. He said he’s coming along; he just had the second surgery. And then Kuper said he’s coming along as well. He’s feeling a lot better. So it was good catching up with those guys.”
On the timetable for his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery
“I’m not sure about that yet. That’s something ‘Greek’ and I have discussed and also Dr. Andrews and his feelings on the situation. So I’m not quite 100 percent on when I’ll be back.”
On where the contract puts him
“It definitely puts me with some good company up there with [Cleveland Browns T] Joe Thomas. I’ve been working hard to try to get on that level. The Broncos have showed great respect in getting this deal done, considering what some of the other tackles, like [Houston Texans T] Duane Brown, have signed for. So it’s good. I think this is a big year for us, as a team. We definitely have a lot of expectations: Super Bowl or bust, for the most part. It’s a lot of pressure, unlike last year where we kind of just rolled in and tried to get things together. We’re trying to know what we have to get done at this point. So it’s definitely a big step for us this year.”
On his rehab process and participation in team activities
“I’ve definitely been working out the past probably three months. I took it easy at first with the shoulder just doing rehab, but the last three months I have been doing a lot of working out, core and stuff like that. ‘Mags’ (Offensive Line Coach Dave Magazu) sent me the OTA playbook, so I have been digging through that trying to find out some of the new stuff. [I’m] just trying to get on the same page so I can hit the ground running when I get back.”
On the tweaks in the offense and whether he is excited about them
“Yeah for sure. I’m confident in ‘Goose’ (Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase) and I think he is going to do a great job. I’m definitely excited to see the potential and what we can do on the offense this year.”
On what he wants to improve on
“I think I can definitely get better. There are always a lot of things every year you just try to improve on: footwork and hands and just trying to stand firm because these [defensive] ends are getting ridiculously athletic. It’s definitely a challenge for sure.”
On any doubts he had about the process
“Yeah, like I said earlier, there were points throughout the offseason where I thought it might not happen [because] of the lack of talking and the other deals that hadn’t got done with franchise players. There were definitely some points where I thought where it wouldn’t get done, but at the end of the day it happened.”
On his thoughts not getting mad at the Broncos during the process
“No, it’s business. There was never any sign of disrespect or anything like that. It was just part of the process and I just sat back and waited.”
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