Posted by Mike Rice
DENVER (AP) -- 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.