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Broncos to place franchise tag on Clady

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - Peyton Manning can rest easy: his blindside protector isn't going anywhere.

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Denver Broncos boss John Elway is planning to put the franchise tag on his All Pro left tackle Ryan Clady as early as Tuesday.

A franchise tag would mean a salary of just under $10 million for Clady in 2013, about three times what he earned last season, when he surrendered just one sack in more than 1,100 snaps.

Elway told the Denver Post on Friday that the Broncos still hope to work out a multi-year extension with Clady, who is recovering from a recent operation on his right shoulder that kept him out of the Pro Bowl.

Clady rejected a five-year, $50 million offer last summer that included $28 million in guarantees. He wanted something more in line with Cleveland's Joe Thomas, whose contract averages $11.5 million a season.

Clady made $3.5 million last year, the final season of the five-year deal he signed as a rookie out of Boise State in 2008. He has started every game in his career and earned three Pro Bowl berths. His right shoulder kept him out of practice during the team's bye week in the playoffs but he returned to face the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round before skipping the Pro Bowl.

Keeping Clady is among the team's top offseason priorities. They also hope to re-sign special teams ace David Bruton, but they aren't expected to make many big splashes in free agency.

The Broncos don't need wholesale changes coming off a 13-3 season and a heartbreaking upset in double-overtime at the hands of the eventual Super Bowl champion Ravens.

Many Broncos fans wonder if safety Rahim Moore, who gave up a 70-yard touchdown to Jacoby Jones in the final minute of regulation, will be replaced. The Broncos liked the progress he made in his second season last year but the big blunder in the playoffs means he'll have to regain his coaches' trust in 2013.

Quinton Carter, who supplanted Moore midway through their rookie season two years ago, is recovering from microfracture surgery on his left knee that sidelined him last season. He's expected back by training camp to compete with Moore for the starting job opposite Mike Adams.

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Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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