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Russell Okung hits free agency after Broncos decline his option

The former Seahawk is a free agent for the second consecutive year.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

In a move that should come as no surprise, offensive tackle Russell Okung is now a free agent after the Broncos declined to pick up his option, according to FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer. The former Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle, who spent the 2016 season with the Denver Broncos, is hitting free agency for the second time in the past two seasons.

Had the Broncos picked up Okung’s option, it would have activated a four-year, $48 million dollar deal. Instead, he hits free agency again.

The cut wasn’t an indictment of Okung, who was a quality player for the Broncos last season. Rather, it was an expected result of the tackle’s initial signing in Denver, where Okung’s cap number more than doubled after the first year.

Essentially, the deal signed between the Broncos and Okung — who served as his own agent and negotiated (or, as some would say, “screwed up”) the deal himself — was a one year, prove-it contract. To be more precise, Denver signed the second-best tackle on last year’s free agent market to a one-year, $5 million deal.

The Broncos will incur $2 million in dead money over the next three seasons — that’s the cost of signing Okung to one of the biggest bargain deals in recent memory, but in doing so, they’ll save themselves from paying the tackle over $11 million per year in the future. Denver now has even more work to do on the offensive line, which struggled in 2016 and allowed 40 sacks on quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.

Okung immediately becomes one of the most desirable offensive linemen on the free agent market. Many teams, from contenders down to teams in the rebuilding stage, will be in the market for a solid left tackle like the former Seahawk. For Okung’s sake, let’s hope the former Super Bowl champion signs an agent this year so he can actually earn the salary he’s worth.