Let's be real: Ryan Clady is THE best LT in the NFL. The reason why the Broncos had no problem with picking up an aging and fresh-off-a-neck-injury Peyton Manning on a stunning five-year contract is that they knew they had the best LT to protect him and keep him healthy.
Obviously it paid off.
And that's not to take anything away from Peyton Manning. He's the best in the game. Probably the best there ever was when all is said and done. But Manning is getting old. What team would have offered him a five-year contract that would likely finish out his career as opposed to a one- or two-year stint with a team only to be picked up by a desperate one at the end of that contract and an even more desperate one after his one-year contract is up with them? Brings back memories of Brett Favre (you should have just retired).
But now that Clady is about to become a free agent, the choice for the Broncos is fairly obvious: you give Clady what he wants even if that means carte blanche.
And what happens if they can't come to an agreement? You slap the franchise tag on him, force him into another year of undervalued contract terms and pray to God that you can come to an amicable agreement by the end of the next season and free some room in your budget to pay him what he's worth.
John Elway is no dummy. He's been there. He knows the game. I suspect he's already talking with Clady because he knows his value. And because he's a businessman, he'd rather lock Clady in and know his expenses for other players for the next several years than have to deal with the franchise tag. But he'll do it if he has to. At least for another year. At least while Manning is still in his prime, even if only mentally.
Bottom line: there is not a team in the NFL that couldn't use a guy like Ryan Clady. He's got to be the most valuable player in free agency (pre-franchise tag).
Just imagine what RGIII could do with Clady blocking. Or Russel Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford. Hell, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Tannehill could be pro-bowlers with Clady. Look at what he did for Cutler and Tebow.
I have no doubt we'll see Ryan Clady in a Broncos uniform for at least another year.