Broncos seem to be taking a page out of Jason Licht's book with Russell Wilson

Leave it to Sean Payton to try and copy the Buccaneers.

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Free agency will open in less than a week, and when it does there will be the usual frenzy of activity as teams try to buy their way into contention. Sometimes it works, but oftentimes the best teams need only make smart moves to best position themselves.

Last year we saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jason Licht put on a masterclass at doing exactly that.

Despite a $55 million salary cap knot that needed to be untangled, and over $80 million in dead money, the Buccaneers pieced together a roster that won a division for the third straight season. Against the backdrop of losing Tom Brady and not having an immediately obvious plan figured out, the Bucs didn't play their last game until the NFC Divisional Round and were dangerously close to making it back to the NFC Championship Game.

Nobody expected that sort of result this time last year, and most of that had to do with how little money the team had. Not only that, but Brady's departure saddled the team with a decision on how to eat the dead money he left behind, as well as the contracts of veteran players that needed to be terminated to get back under the cap.

Licht channeled his inner Scorsese, Kubrick, Fincher, and Varda to direct a masterpiece on how to navigate a tough salary cap situation and come out on the other end clean. It was such a revelation that it seems the Denver Broncos are now copying his whole flow in trying to get out from under Russell Wilson's horrible contract.

Broncos releasing Russell Wilson feels like a move motivated by the Buccaneers

After Tom Brady retired the Bucs were faced with a fork-in-the-road situation: incur all of the dead money or spread the hit out over multiple years.

Tampa Bay decided to take its medicine and take the financial hit squarely on the chin. The result was an utter lack of cap space to make hardly any moves, as players like Donovan Smith, Mike Edwards, and Sean Murphy-Bunting were among the casualties of the Bucs needing ot save money.

That didn't mean the team didn't spend anything, it just challenged the front office to think different. Rather than overthink the situation and panic, Licht and the crew were simply extra intentional with every dollar spent. Baker Mayfield was perhaps the best free agent signing of the entire class last year as he helped reset the Bucs identity and led them to the playoffs while reviving his career.

All it cost the Bucs was $4 million upfront with another $4.5 million tied to incentives.

Denver is faced with an even greater problem, as it wants out from under the contract it gave Russell Wilson but doing so would force the team to absorb an historic amount of dead money. Had the Bucs not pulled off what they did last year in navigating a dire cap situation, the Broncos might not have had the confidence to release Wilson and eat roughly $89 million over the next two seasons.

What Licht and the Bucs did was rather unprecedented, as teams usually try to kick the can down the road as far as possible and oftentimes tie themselves in knots trying to avoid ripping off the financial band-aid. Sean Payton is no stranger to that, as the New Orleans Saints are still in salary cap hell thanks to the deals that were made on his watch.

Now he's taking a page out of his old rival's book to try and fix an even more dire situation. Denver probably won't be the last team that makes a bold decision like this and simply takes its medicine rather than hold onto a bad situation, and each and every one will have Licht and the Bucs to thank for the blueprint.

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