Most Denver Broncos fans would immediately answer "Yes!", but let me give that knee jerk reaction a cause for pause. While it's easy to argue Peyton Manning's retirement was the reason for the Broncos' big step backwards after winning Super Bowl 50, the free agent market was just as big a factor:

  • Brock Osweiler (QB) signed a 4-year $72M deal with the Texans.
  • Malik Jackson (DT) signed an 8-year $85.5M contract with the Jaguars.
  • Danny Trevathan (ILB) signed a 4-year $28M contract with the Bears.
  • Von Miller (OLB) got franchised tagged but held out for a 6-year $114.5M contract with the Broncos.

The Broncos only re-signed 3 of 19 unrestricted free agents, and with Miller receiving the money saved by Manning's retirement, they couldn't spend much on their replacements.

Without a quarterback or running defense, the AFC West championship shifted from the Broncos (2011-2015) over to the Chiefs (2016-2019). Only after three losing seasons and two good draft classes does Denver look poised to compete for the division again in 2020.

Win or lose Super Bowl 54, free agency will cost the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020 and 2021, but it will cost them more if they win. Patrick Mahomes enters the 4th year of his rookie contract in 2020: expect his cap hit to 3x or 4x over the next two seasons.

Plenty of other players will want a big raise too, and the salary cap won't allow the Chiefs to pay every one. The Chiefs will be spending more for less in 2020, especially if the players are negotiating while wearing a Super Bowl ring. As Brock Osweiler and Malik Jackson show, desperate teams pay a premium for last season's victor.

Can you ignore your division rival winning now, knowing it positions your team better to win later?