During John Elway's final season with the Broncos, the league's salary cap was $52.388 million. Ten years after he retired, it was only $116 million.
And now, just five years after he's joined Denver's front office, the cap has risen from $120 million to $143.28 million.
Even for one of the league's more successful general managers, the massive rise in spending -- a phenomenon that truly crescendo this offseason with some blockbuster trades and deals -- has taken some getting used to.
"I think what we're really seeing this year is the idea of what the CBA was meant to be and that was get more cash into the veterans' hands," Elway said via ESPN.com. "Look at the wage scale and all that money is cycling through to the veterans. It's a little hard to get used to, but that's what the NFL is about now. Teams do that with more confidence, knowing what they're getting. You're seeing teams with more money now ... so they are able to put more money out there for veteran they know what they can do."
While this will likely never reach the fevered pitch of a baseball hot stove, Elway is right. General managers need to start thinking differently. They need to start thinking bigger.
The new collective bargaining agreement likely won't collapse on teams anytime soon and deals like we've seen this offseason could very well become the new norm.
At least this time around, Elway was stuck re-signing some of his own talent while sniffing around the secondary market; not a fun place to be amid a spring like this.
"You just kind of have to wrap your head around it," Elway said. "How you looked at different positions, what you would pay a guard, what you would pay guys compared to before, what the framework of the contracts were, you have to see where the market is and how it changes."