ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With his contractual situation resolved and his long-term future in Denver secured, Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady said Monday that he's now poised to get back onto the field and continue to raise the bar of his performance.
"I'm definitely glad to have the process over," Clady said during a conference call on Monday afternoon. "The opportunity to stay in one place and in one system definitely can help my game. I definitely want to continue to get better and improve."
The three-time Pro Bowler agreed to a 5-year deal on Sunday, and Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway said that Clady has earned a franchise contract with his caliber of performance.
"We're really thrilled that Ryan is going to be here for a long, long time. He's been a cornerstone of that offensive line and a part of this organization and really has had a tremendous career," Elway said on Monday afternoon. "A guy that deserved the money that he got. So we have high expectations, but we also know that he's going to meet that, and he's been a great leader on this football team, and we're just thrilled that we continue to keep the great players that have played great for us."
Clady said the long-term deal places him in a select group of offensive linemen in the NFL, something that he's worked to achieve throughout his career.
"It definitely puts me with some good company up there with (Cleveland Browns T) Joe Thomas," Clady said. "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."
Clady has started every regular season game of his five-year career and allowed just one sack in the 2012 regular season – the fewest in the NFL among 16-game starting tackles.
Now that he's been declared a part of the Broncos' future, Clady can focus exclusively on returning to the field and contributing to an offensive line that allowed just 21.0 sacks in the 2012 regular season.
Clady said he has been rehabilitating a shoulder injury he suffered in the Broncos' regular season finale against Kansas City on Dec. 30, 2012 – he also played in the Broncos' Divisional Playoff game against Baltimore two weeks later.
Clady noted that his shoulder was recently assessed by Broncos Head Trainer Steve Antonopulos and that the progress he showed in that assessment may have been important to finalizing the contract.
"I think that had a part in the movement of getting the deal done," Clady said.
Staying physically and mentally engaged with football has kept Clady busy during the offseason.
"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," Clady said. "(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."