Ryan Clady wasn't greedy. He was just a tough negotiator.
"You only go through this once," Clady said Sunday evening. "Hopefully, I get to do this again, but we'll see. But the guarantee and the structure of the first three years was much better than it was last summer."
The Broncos and their star left tackle agreed Sunday to a five-year, $52.5 million contract, with a maximum value of $57.5 million, and $33 million in guarantees over the first three years. Part of that $33 million is fully guaranteed; another part is guaranteed against injury.
The deal puts Clady among the NFL's top two or three offensive linemen in pay.
"I'm getting blown up (with phone calls) right now," Clady said. "I'm ready to chill. I'm glad it's over. Glad to be with Broncos long-term."
A year after the first round of their contract negotiations broke off, leaving Clady to play the 2012 season on a club-friendly $3.5 million salary, the Broncos and Peyton Manning's blindside protector found common ground through compromise.
The Broncos significantly improved the guaranteed portion of their offer from a year ago, while Clady reduced his annual and total value requests. The biggest gap a year ago was within the first three years of the contract.
Early last week, the Broncos improved their five-year offer from $50 million to $51.5 million. On Thursday, the Broncos submitted their final proposal that upped the total value to $52.5 million. Clady slept on it a couple days and accepted the deal Sunday. He can make another $5 million over the history of the contract through incentives.
Only Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas ($11.5 million annual value on an eight-year, $92 million extension with $44 million in guarantees) and possibly Philadelphia Eagles left tackle Jason Peters are better compensated among NFL offensive linemen. Peters' contract can be viewed as six years at $60.66 million ($10.1 million average) or as four years at $53 million ($13.25 million).