Broncos might tap extra cap money for Jets defender


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Jan 22, 2006
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Abraham on radar
Broncos might tap extra cap money for Jets defender
By Jeff Legwold, Rocky Mountain News
March 11, 2006

As free agency opened around the NFL on Friday night, the Broncos already were poised once again to try to make one of the biggest trade splashes.
As they did two years ago, when they shipped Pro Bowl running back Clinton Portis to the Washington Redskins for Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey, the Broncos are closing in on the detail work that will be needed to secure New York Jets defensive end John Abraham, a proven edge rusher.

The biggest point in their favor in working toward the deal is the extension of the league's collective bargaining agreement, which gave teams an additional $7.5 million in salary-cap room to use.

The Broncos were at about $90.2 million at the start of business Friday against the $102 million salary cap, enough room for long-snapper Mike Leach's new contract, to finish deals with defensive tackle Gerard Warren and running back Ron Dayne and swing the deal for Abraham.

Several sources in the league said Friday night they believed the Broncos and the Jets already had developed a framework for a trade before the extension of the collective bargaining agreement was announced, but both teams were waiting to see what the salary cap would be before moving on to contract negotiations.

Those negotiations probably will take a few days, and as much as a week, before a deal could be completed.

The Broncos would have had little room to maneuver if the cap had not increased Wednesday. Jets senior vice president Mike Tannenbaum had contacted the Broncos during the scouting combine in Indianapolis last month.

The Atlanta Falcons also have expressed interest in Abraham.

The Jets are seeking a first-round pick for the three-time Pro Bowl selection. The Falcons have the better first-round pick - 15th, as compared with either the 22nd or 29th picks for the Broncos - but the Broncos had been more aggressive.

The issue, though, is negotiating a long-term deal with Abraham as well as negotiating the dynamics of making a trade for a player who already has been designated the team's franchise player.

Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist and Broncos coach Mike Shanahan could not be reached for comment.

Because the Jets have designated Abraham their franchise player - a one-year deal for the average of the top 10 salaries at the position - the Jets would have to give permission for Abraham's agent, Tony Agnone, to work out a long-term contract with the new team.

By league rules set by the management council, the terms of that contract are then shipped back to the Jets, who then type up the contract, have Abraham sign it and complete the trade by sending the player and the contract to the new team.

Also by league rules, the contract has to be signed and the trade completed in 24 hours to keep the deal from counting against the Jets' salary cap, and the Broncos would have to have the salary-cap room immediately, as well as pay the signing bonus.

"The tough thing is the differences you might have between your standard contract language and what another team might do, in terms of bonuses, workman's comp or things of that nature," said Titans general manager Floyd Reese, who worked a similar type of deal with the St. Louis Rams in 2001 when Tennessee sent a first-round pick to the Rams for Pro Bowl defensive end Kevin Carter.

"The tough part is language; everybody has their own way of doing the deals. You have that 24-hour window to make sure the language fits what you do, i's dotted, t's crossed the way you dot and cross. So you may know what you want to do in the trade, but it takes a few days to get all that worked out so everybody's happy."

The other option is Abraham simply could sign the franchise player tender, be traded and then work out the long-term deal with the Broncos. But because of the new cap rules that came with the CBA extension and the fact Abraham has been designated by the Jets in two consecutive seasons, what was an $8.3 million franchise player tender for Abraham is now multiplied by 120 percent to $9.96 million.

The Broncos would have a far more difficult time fitting that under the cap with Warren's new deal on the horizon.

Broncos and Jets officials were among those who participated in conference calls around the league Thursday to brief personnel executives on the ins and outs of the new labor deal.

The feeling around the league Friday night was it might slow things in the first days of free agency as teams try to make sure that they understand any changes.

Abraham, with 10.5 sacks last season for the 4-12 Jets and four career seasons with at least 9.5 sacks, is a coveted player. But at least three personnel executives said Friday their concerns would be his injury history - he has played 16 games in only three of his six seasons, including 2005 - and his conviction for driving while impaired in 2003.

He initially had been charged with driving while intoxicated but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge, which was the equivalent of a traffic violation.

Abraham crashed his Humvee into a fire hydrant. He was fined $20,000 by the NFL and sent to alcohol counseling as part of the league's substance-abuse program.

Abraham's numbers

Defensive end John Abraham's NFL statistics, all with the New York Jets:

Year Games Sacks

2000 6 4.5

2001 16 13

2002 16 10

2003 7 6

2004 12 9.5

2005 16 10.5,2777,DRMN_23918_4533769,00.html
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