Unfortunately, this move just didn’t work out for the Denver Broncos or for Donald Stephenson
After a rough first year, which led to a pay cut and benching this year, moving on from Donald Stephenson is perhaps the easiest decision the Denver Broncos will make this off-season.
In fact, it’s essentially been made for them as his restructure in August voided the last year of his contract, making him a free agent this year; Denver literally has to do nothing, here (which is a good parallel for what Stephenson did out at right tackle).
This was a risky move two years ago when Stephenson was brought in from Kansas City, and he becomes a tally mark in a long list of failed right tackle experiments for Denver over the last few years.
Donald Stephenson Stats
After starting the season in a reserve role, Stephenson started the final four games after Menelik Watson went down with an injury.
Donald Stephenson PFF Grade
Stephenson finished the year with a 42.5 overall grade (out of 100), 40.0 in pass blocking and 46.6 in run blocking, according to Pro Football Focus.
Additionally, in the 157 Pass Blocking Snaps he played, he allowed 19 pressures and 3 sacks, which is about a pressure every eight pass blocking snaps.
Donald Stephenson Contract
As I mentioned above, Stephenson restructured his deal leading up to the 2017 season. The new contract voided his final year of the original three-year deal and cut his salary down from $4 million to $2.5 million. The remaining $1.5 million could have been earned back with playing time incentives of 50% and 70% of snaps ($750,000 for each milestone). However, he failed to reach either of those incentives, putting his final cap hit from last year at $4.25 million.
Note: Even if he had reached the milestones, it would not have affected his 2018 cap hit as both would have been classified as “likely to be earned” (given that he started 86% of snaps the previous year) so they would have been adjusted into the 2017 cap number had he hit them.
As it stands, Denver has a $1 million dead money hit for Stephenson in 2018 due to the prorated signing bonus he received in 2016.
Donald Stephenson is a free agent when the league year begins in March and I don’t expect Denver to lift a finger to try and keep him.