It’s that time again - almost spring - when a young man’s fancies turn lightly to free agency and the draft. Equally, it’s much like love in that there’s often more wishful thinking than reason to the players that are mentioned. That being the case, I thought I’d jot some things down regarding important areas of the Broncos' rebuilding project.
John Elway has confirmed exactly what a lot of our readers have expressed hope for - that the Broncos intend to build through the draft and fill gaps in free agency. The thing is, just as it is with Denver’s own, that most free agents would just as soon not move and have to rebuild relationships without a lot of good reasons, most of them green. The Carl Nickses of the league aren't likely shots, to put it mildly, although you never really know who will become available or have a tiff with their team. However - there are a lot of good players available who can help Denver immediately via either free agency or the draft. I’ll be covering this by position, post-Combine, to add some draft options, but here are some rarely stressed basics to think seriously about.
First on the list? Remember to check for unrestricted free agents (UFA) vs. restricted free agents (RFA). Folks should keep in mind that taking on an RFA would cost the Broncos a draft pick as compensation to the former team, in addition to the monetary value of whatever contract they give the player. It could happen with the right deal, but it's highly unlikely. Those valuable picks are going to be the basis for the rebuilding process - I can seen trading out of the 25th-overall pick for a couple of second-rounders, for example. Denver needs more picks, not less.
Is Denver's Skyline For Sale?
Is Denver’s skyline for sale? And, if so, what’s it worth?
The first of these questions has gotten a lot of attention in the debate leading up to today’s hearing before the city planning board on The Sports Authority’s proposal to install three 178-foot, lighted signs along the metal band that undulates around the top of the stadium where the Broncos play in northwest Denver. The second question has gotten almost none.
...So perhaps the most surprising aspect of the debate is that at no time has the city or the stadium district asked The Sports Authority to pay an additional fee for the right to vastly augment the signage that went with the original naming rights deal. The money from the naming rights deal—approximately $6 million a year—is divided between the Broncos and the stadium district, which uses its share for upkeep of the facility. If there is excess, it is supposed to go back to the counties that provided the public funding that got the place built.
If the free market allows The Sports Authority to put its brand on the Denver skyline, then the free market should also require it to pay a market rate for the privilege. And that doesn’t mean just picking up the existing naming rights fee, which included much more modest signage rights.
Ron Jaworski is leaving the Monday Night Football booth
While ESPN is careful not to deem Jaws leaving the booth as a demotion in any sort of way, especially given the five year contract extension, this is a stunning move. One immediately has to ask whether or not the booth was becoming too small for both Gruden and Jaws? There is always give and take with a three man booth and there were a few times where I sensed elbowing for position on MNF telecasts, but it wasn’t anything drastic. I always thought Gruden and Jaws worked well together and made an enjoyable team with Tirico even if some of their QB love was redundant.
Count Drew Magary among those celebrating the end of Jaws and Chucky's sycophantic guffawing.
Instead, it's endless talk of how OUTSTANDING every player is. Yay!
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Adding to yesterday's news that Tim Tebow is working with new UCLA OC Noel Mazzone on his mechanics, it's worthwhile to note the duo has teamed up before. Prior to Tebow's pro day in 2010, he worked with Mazzone, Marc Trestman, Zeke Bratkowski, and Sam Wyche. Here's some of what Mazzone had to say back then:
I think it's going to change some opinions...He looks totally different to me...This guy's an NFL quarterback in my eyes.
I'm not trying to change the guy's motion. I went back and looked at his high school film. He's got a great motion.It's different when you're in the gun your whole life and not making five- and seven-step drops. Bad feet make bad throws. We worked a lot on loading up his back foot, having good posture and getting his feet and body more involved with his throw.
Tim Tebow working with QB guru
The Broncos cannot work with him yet, but Tebow has gotten a jump on his improvement plan. Bruce Feldman of CBS tweeted that Tebow is in Los Angles (sic) this week to work with new UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone on his mechanics.
Mazzone is considered one of the premier quarterback coaches in the college ranks.
Once the Broncos can work with Tebow in the spring, Tebow is going to work closely with the coaching staff and John Elway. He has said several times he will work with Tebow, concentrating on his foot work.
Why something like this didn't happen last year is a great mystery, but hey - better late than never.
Mazzone has been the college OC for several future NFL QBs: Philip Rivers during the Chargers QB's senior year at NC State (2003), Derek Anderson at Oregon State in 2002, Jason Campbell at Auburn in 2001, and most recently ASU QB Brock Osweiler for the past two seasons. Mazzone joined Jim Mora's staff at UCLA in January.
Whatchall know about that scrilla? I decided to follow the front page of the IAOFM site from Monday, and play off of the article that Doug referenced yesterday that put the Broncos on $50 million of cap room. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Broncos' finances lately, and some other tangential thoughts. It’s all part of being a football-thinking accountant, I guess.
Let’s start out with a provocative thought, right off the top. It’s unquestionable that the Broncos were better off making the playoffs in 2011 than not. I know that some of you disagree with that, and I’m here to tell you, you’re wrong. That doesn’t make you a bad person, and in recognition of that fact, I’m going to explain what I mean by “unquestionable.”
First, let’s do away with the Draft Fallacy. That’s the one that says that because the Broncos were 12th out of 12 playoff teams in talent, that they handicapped their future by making it too soon. You see, say these people, the Broncos would have picked 17th in the Draft, and by making the playoffs, the best they could do was 21st. By winning a playoff game (the horror!) they ended up at 25th.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! There's perhaps a bit of disconnect between the title and the article, but Mike Klis says there's a good chance Denver will use its franchise tag on K Matt Prater this offseason. The title says the team is "likely" to do so, while Klis simply writes that "Prater is the strongest candidate" to be tagged, so it's unclear how much of this is based upon something out of Dove Valley and how much is simply Klis speculating.
Either way, it's kind of a no-brainer if the team were unable to agree to a long-term deal with Prater, as according to Klis, tagging a kicker is like to only cost a team around $2.6M for the 2013 season. Plus, the tag is often used by teams to buy more time to agree to a longer contract.
None of Denver's other free agents figure to be tag-worthy, as placing the restriction on Brodrick Bunkley or Marcus Thomas would require overpaying either of them with a $7.9M salary; Wesley Woodyard would get $8.8M, and Eddie Royal would command $9.4M - it's pretty safe to say the Broncos will not be shelling out anything close to those amounts on a one-year contract for any of those players.
Report: Goodell's salary to 'double' up to $20M
Roger Goodell recently received a five-year contract extension from the NFL, and according to a report, his salary will “double” up to $20 million annually by the end of the deal…
MLB commissioner Bud Selig made $18.35 million in 2007, per Kaplan, and has since received two contract extensions. It is a logical assumption that Selig is paid more than $20 million annually at this point…
And while the response from NFL players on Twitter—Falcons wide receiver Roddy White wondered “How in the hell can [you] pay a man this much money that cant run tackle or catch”—hasn’t been ideal, it’s difficult to get too angry at what Goodell’s bringing in.
In an era of downsizing, layoffs, and record budget deficits, there's one guy who has managed to do alright for himself. His name is Roger Goodell. Like our good buddy Joe Ellis, Goodell managed to pull himself up from his bootstraps into the corporate leader he is today. If only we all had boots that went all the way up to our asses so we didn't have to reach too far.
Hey, we all have to start somewhere, right? Patrick Willis' mother abandoned him as a kid and his father beat the living snot out of him, and he made it, so I can't be too hard on Goodell for pursuing his own American dream as the son of a United States Senator. And who the hell am I to question $20 million for a guy who successfully limited the rookie pay scale?
Congratulations, Roger Goodell. You deserve every penny. And unlike Patrick Willis, you don't have to actually take the concussions to make a lot of dough off of football.
Plenty of (cap) room to improve
The Houston Texans and San Diego Chargers didn’t have enough remaining room to push money over into 2012, so Houston has $3.3 million of cap space and San Diego has $9.2 million. The Kansas City Chiefs have $62.995 million after budgeting $24.014 million from the 2011 season. The 2011 playoff teams in good shape are the Denver Broncos ($50.735 million of cap room), San Francisco 49ers ($39.33 million), Atlanta Falcons ($30.6 million) and New England Patriots ($20 million). To get to the $50 million mark, the Broncos carried over $26 million of unused cap.
Four teams still have to get under the salary cap by March 13. They are the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have redone three contracts to be $11.7 million over, the Oakland Raiders ($11 million over), the Carolina Panthers ($9.6 million over) and the New York Giants ($7.3 million over).
This week, one of the players that was heavily on fans’ minds for Denver in the 2009 Draft was again arrested: Ray Maualuga. The first time it was in 2010 in Kentucky, on a drunken driving charge that warranted a seven-day suspended jail sentence, a suspension of his license suspended for 90 days, and participation in a drug and alcohol rehab program. This time, booze is involved again - he allegedly punched a bar manager in the face early on Saturday morning.
Maualuga had a substantial number of black marks against him for childish and errant behavior prior to the draft, and he dropped from the 1st to the 2nd round. He played in all games in 2009 and ‘10 and started 13 games this past year as well. He’s been a decent player for the Bengals - not the huge impact Mike that was predicted, but a fair quality of play, without question. Still, he had four QB pressures but neither a sack nor a QB hit last season. He had 86 tackles and notched 43 stops, but those were tempered by a glaring 12 missed tackles. Over his three years with Cincinnati he has had two sacks in total and three interceptions - not huge stats, just decent ones. Part of production is system-based.