Ryan Clady: Deserving of a Monster Long-Term Contract?

Sarah Marshall@SBMarshallBUContributor IDecember 3, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 15:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos speaks to Ryan Clady #78 during the game against the San Diego Chargers  at Qualcomm Stadium on October 15, 2012 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Peyton Manning's protector, Ryan Clady, is in the midst of the best season of his young NFL career, allowing only one sack this season. That sack didn't occur until Week 12. It seems Clady is playing like he has something to prove.

Prior to the start of the 2012 season, the Broncos and Clady tried to work out a long-term extension, but talks ended with an agreement to continue talking after this season. The question is, with Clady becoming eligible for free agency at the end of the season, should the Broncos offer him a long-term, monster contract? 

Clady is currently being paid $3.5 million in the final year of his current contract. In my opinion, the protection Clady offers is worth at least $10 million a year as part of a long-term extension. Jason Peters of the Eagles, Jake Long of the Dolphins and Joe Thomas of the Browns all make $10 million a year average, but none of them are protecting a quarterback of the same caliber as Peyton Manning.

Clady is protecting, quite possibly, the most fragile quarterback in the NFL. After missing a year with multiple neck surgeries, Peyton Manning needs to go as long as possible without being sacked and Ryan Clady has offered near-perfect protection of his blind side. Clady has played in every game so far and has only allowed one sack. That's incredible. Although he's a big man, Clady has also ran 15 to 20 yards downfield, making blocks alongside Zane Beadles. 

The Broncos could use their franchise tag on Clady for the next two years, but it would be of greater value to secure him to a long-term deal. 

Pay the man!! He's worth it in order to protect Peyton Manning and give him and the Broncos a chance to make the playoffs year after year. If the Broncos don't find a way to secure him with a long-term deal, someone else will, and Clady will be hard to replace.