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Ryan Clady playing at a high level, with a medium-sized contract

Peyton Manning, Ryan Clady, Rob Ninkovich

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) follows through on a pass as tackle Ryan Clady (78) blocks New England Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich (50) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)


Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady assumed — and continues to assume — a huge financial risk when he didn’t take the team’s five-year, $50 million contract offer this summer.

But entering a contract year, and playing perhaps the best football of his career, Clady isn’t getting any cheaper, and that presents a risk for the Broncos as well.

According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, Clady’s one of two left tackles in the league yet to allow a sack this season (along with Houston’s Duane Brown). And when the blind side he’s protecting belongs to a guy coming off neck surgeries and a year out of football, that protection is invaluable.

So at a time when top tackles are making eight figures on average, Clady’s making the final $3.5 million of his rookie contract.

“I wouldn’t say disappointed, but I definitely wanted to get it done before training camp started,” Clady said of a new contract. “And it didn’t, but I just went out and played. This is my fifth year in the league; I understand it’s a business.

“My job is to go out and play my best every down, every year.”

The Broncos could always use the franchise tag on him the next two years, but they can realize a cap savings by doing a longer deal, and keep an important player happier as well.

While Jason Peters of the Eagles, Joe Thomas of the Browns and Jake Long of the Dolphins all top the $10 million per year average, none of their quarterbacks are in Manning’s class, or in his relative state of mobility.

But Clady insists the lack of a deal isn’t a problem for him this year, to which the Broncos can only breathe a sigh of relief.

“Even if I had been paid, I would have tried to prove I was worth the contract,” Clady said. “There’s always motivation to play hard.”

That’s good news for Manning and the Broncos on several fronts.