ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **When the Broncos have used the franchise tag in this century, it hasn't been the beginning of an end. In the months after Jason Elam, Matt Prater and Ryan Clady received the tag in the last 13 years, each received long-term contract extensions.
But the decision to place the tag on Demaryius Thomas still comes with a wisp of frustration, given that the long-term contract that the Broncos hoped to have with the three-time Pro Bowl receiver remains unreached.
"Our goal is to get something done with Demaryius," Executive Vice President/General Manager John Elway said Feb. 19 at the National Scouting Combine. "The wide receiver market is changing, too. The bottom line is we want Demaryius to be around."
That same day, Elway said he would use the tag on Thomas if no long-term deal was reached, so the Monday decision came as no surprise.
Even though Thomas has months to sign the franchise tender, the $12.82 million charge against the Broncos' salary cap hits immediately when the league year begins next week, eating up just under half of the Broncos' previously-available space under the cap.
The salary cap was set at $143.28 million Monday, but the Broncos' adjusted cap will be $150,066,024, per figures released by the NFLPA. That includes a $5,870,000 carryover form last year and an adjustment of $916,024.
By giving Thomas the non-exclusive franchise tag, other clubs have the right to negotiate with Thomas, but the Broncos can match any contract offer -- and if they opted not to match, they would receive two first-round picks in exchange for Thomas. That steep price keeps offers for tagged players to a minimum.
But the Broncos' goal will remain getting Thomas signed to a long-term contract by July 15 -- the deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign new deals with their current teams. After successfully getting Prater and Clady signed before the deadline in 2012 and 2013, respectively, the Broncos hope they can do the same with Thomas.
"This is another step in our efforts to extend Demaryius' contract and ensure he remains a Denver Bronco," Elway said. "We will continue working toward a long-term agreement with Demaryius, who is a very important part of our team."