Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Perhaps Matt Prater hasn't signed his franchise tag because he's been waiting for someone else to set the market.
Well, consider it set.
Tampa Bay inked their kicker Connor Barth to a four-year deal worth a total of $13.2M, including $4M in guarantees, which is a modest increase over the $2.6M franchise tag tendered to Barth (same amount as Prater).
Of the five kickers to be tagged this offseason, Barth is the only one with a long-term deal; Cincy's Mike Nugent and Cleveland's Phil Dawson ($3.81M) signed their one-year tenders, while Prater and Jacksonville's Josh Scobee have not. As for unrestricted free agent kickers, none of them got a whole lot of cash this offseason; John Kasay got an undisclosed one-year deal in New Orleans, Arizona gave Jay Feely $2.5M over two seasons, Washington signed Neil Rackers for $990K, and the Jets gave Nick Folk and Josh Brown one-year deals worth $765K and $855K, respectively.
Kicking statistics corrected 11am ET July 3, 2012
Pioli says Chiefs have three good QBs, didn’t need to draft one
Pioli and Kevin Kietzman of WHB got a little testy with each other as Kietzman pressed Pioli about why the Chiefs couldn’t have traded up in the draft, with Pioli at one point asking, “Are you going to let me answer?” when he felt Kietzman was interrupting him, and Pioli zinging Kietzman with, “I hope you become general manager of the Denver Broncos” when Kietzman told Pioli that he would have traded the Chiefs’ entire draft to move up and take Andrew Luck first overall. Pioli doesn’t seem to like the relentless questions from some in Kansas City about whether the Chiefs can win with Cassel.
Scott Pioli isn't used to being questioned. In fact, it's pretty clear he's the one doing most of the listening, especially if you work for the Kansas City Chiefs. When he does answer questions, it's best just to nod your head, lest you become a candidate for the Broncos' GM job.
How funny will it be when Pioli gets fired and replaced by Brian Xanders? Yes, that funny.
Bolden First Draft Pick to Sign
The first of the Broncos’ 2012 NFL Draft picks has signed with the team.
Cornerback Omar Bolden, drafted in the fourth round, put pen to paper on Thursday.
Selected at pick No. 101 overall, Bolden amassed 138 total tackles, five tackles for loss, 21 pass breakups and seven interceptions in his career at Arizona State.
One down, six to go.
Broncos owner Pat Bowlen has announced that legendary WR Rod Smith will become the next member of the team's Ring of Fame. Said Mr. B in a statement:
Players like Rod don’t come through your door very often, but he came through ours every day with a purpose and hunger to be great. Rod’s production and numbers -- as outstanding as they were -- paled in comparison to his commitment to winning and the respect he commanded from each and every one of his teammates throughout his career. Emerging from an undrafted player to one of the best to ever play his position, Rod has truly earned his place among the greatest Broncos of all time.
I am thankful for everything Rod contributed to this franchise during his time with the Broncos, and I congratulate him on his well-deserved election to the Ring of Fame.
Smith, who was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Missouri Southern State in 1994, was a Bronco for 12 seasons, setting regular and postseason franchise records for receptions, receiving yards, and TD catches. His numbers also rank as the best in league history for an undrafted receiver.
Updated 7:49 pm ET
Tebow’s attorneys put it this way: “The Merchandise makes it appear as if Mr. Tebow actually endorses Cubby Tees and its products.” Where that actually happens is a bit of a mystery. The shirt…remixes the Jets logo to a more Jesus-friendly theme. The “NY” is replaced with “MY” and the “JETS” is replaced with “JESUS.” In addition, what’s normally a football at the bottom of the logo is the “Ichthys,” or “sign of the fish,” often used to express faith.
And yes, when you think of Jesus and the Jets together, you probably think of Tebow, but the shirt itself contains absolutely no Tebow references. I am neither a theologian nor a lawyer, but I don’t think Tebow is the only one allowed to claim Jesus as “My Jesus.” But again, I’m not sure exactly how close Tebow and Jesus are. I could be wrong about that.
We found it odd last year when then-Broncos quarterback was comfortable with people wearing a #15 jersey with the name "Jesus" emblazoned on the back. But what the hell did we know? After all, we didn't know what was in Tebow's heart (except a lot of passion), right?
But Tebow's full-on God complex (the Trinity at work, y'all) just went national--just in time for Mark Sanchez. If Tebow's attorney is right, then the names Jesus Christ and Tim Tebow are one and the same, because the merchandise never mentions Tebow's name (or even his number).
The best part of this story, however, isn't even that Tebow thinks he's Jesus in spikes; it's the hubris of his lawyers (and Robby Tebow, who is cc'ed on the letter) Check out this paragraph from his lawyers directed at the tee-shirt company:
As I'm sure you're aware, Mr. Tebow's name, voice, likeness, and identity have a substantial economic value when used for the purposes of advertising, marketing, promoting or endorsing products or services, and/or when he serves as a spokesman.
Translation: our client is in fact Jesus Christ Superstar.
I knew the Sanchize liked drama and rock opera. Now he's getting some.
PS: Thank you, John Elway
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Let's all wish a Happy Birthday to HOFer Ace Parker, who turns 100 today and is the oldest living ex-NFL player; Andy Barall shares his story.
Mike Klis says the Broncos are working towards signing all of their draft picks, and are close to deals with top choices Derek Wolfe and Brock Osweiler. Of course, thanks to the rookie pay system as structured by the new CBA, this is all a formality.
Incredibly, there's talk the Ravens and Eagles could try to dock the pay of Terrell Suggs and Jason Peters for their recent injuries, on the grounds that they were suffered away from team facilities. Apparently, the CBA stipulates that injuries suffered during off-site training sessions are considered non-football injuries.
So between drafted rookies possessing zero negotiating power as to their salary or team, players potentially getting docked for injuries while working out, and restricted free agency resulting in zero offer sheets this year, what did the players really gain in the latest CBA? Lighter practices and earlier free agency? That's it? And to think, so many fans took ownership's side and decried the supposed greed and selfishness of the players after ownership locked them out...
I love the history of football. In its beginnings a brutal sport nearly banned at many colleges, it took over 30 years to reach a level of maturity and acceptance by the American public in the 1950s and 1960s. The growth in the sport since then has in many ways reflected the positives in the evolution of American culture.
Football has increasingly outgrown its often brutal and unquestionably racist roots, beginning with the entry of players of color in the 1940s. It has seen the iron fist of Vince Lombardi, demanding in Green Bay that he not have a single member of his teams that bore racist, cultural or religious prejudice. Lombardi was an icon in many ways that most casual fans of the sport will never hear or read of.
Bill Walsh once had a player’s locker packed in the box delivered to his front door for simply implying that the details of his contract were based in racial discrimination by Walsh. Walsh was right - the player was playing a race card that in this case did not exist.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Peyton Manning has his first bit of AFC West bulletin board material thanks to Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers, who says:
We’ve got the mindset we’re going to win the AFC West. Peyton Manning, he’s a quarterback that everyone wants to have. He’s not going to turn the ball over, he’s not going to make critical mistakes.
But I’m going out there saying if my man can’t get open, he won’t have no one to throw the ball to. So as long as I do my part, we’re not too worried about Peyton Manning.
Okay, so it's the mildest of trash talk, but it's May. And, it's really more likely directed at Demaryius Thomas than at PMFM, who is 5-1 in his career against the Chiefs (albeit with a sub-Manning QB rating of 88.1). Thomas, meanwhile, has only six catches (three in 2010, three in 2011) in three career games against KC, for just 85 yards and zero touchdowns.
Then again, Denver's 2011 quarterback managed just eight completions in 30 attempts last year against the Chiefs, so it's easy to understand why Flowers is so confident. Won't be so easy in 2012, though, Brandon.
Matt Prater absent from Broncos workouts
Broncos kicker Matt Prater, a free agent until he was slapped with a $2.6 million franchise tender for the 2012 season, has not been participating in the team’s offseason workout program.
“”There’s no message, it’s voluntary,” said Frank Bauer, Prater’s agent.
Prater made some huge kicks last year, and he was a bigger part of Denver's winning streak than a kicker would typically be. But he's still a kicker, and one who's made just 80.4% of his attempts with the Broncos, including an atrocious 20 of 33 from 40-49 yards (60.6%).
If you're wondering, Ryan Longwell is available and has made 83.2% of his career kicks, including 73.5% from 40-49 yards.
Steven Hauschka, who stepped in for an injured Prater in 2010 and became Seattle's kicker last season after Denver cut him in the preseason, was good 83.3% of the time in 2011, including 7 of 8 (87.5%) from 40-49. He's also a free agent - perhaps Denver should consider bringing him back.
Statistics corrected 11am ET July 3, 2012
Thomas Preparing for 'Best Year Yet'
“I’m excited, man,” Thomas said, smiling from ear to ear. “I’m just excited to get healed and work with the team and not sit here and look around – to actually be on the field doing stuff. This is my first year in the NFL being healthy. I’m feeling good, I’m in the right shape, good size. It’s just exciting and I’m looking forward to it.”
...Thomas took advantage of the opportunity to learn from an All-Pro receiver in Johnson, who along with Thomas is one of the bigger receivers in the NFL. “It was basically just coming off a press and how breaking down the end of your routes will help you because as big receivers, it’s different for us,” Thomas said of the advice he received from Johnson. “Just small little things and just basically to work hard—something good is going to happen if you keep working hard.”
We'll soon be reading that Peyton Manning feels like a 27-year-old after a year off, that J.D. Walton and Zane Beadles have made incomparable strength gains after their first full offseason conditioning program, that Brock Osweiler's mechanics are PMFM-like, and Omar Bolden is running faster than he did pre-knee injury.
What's that you say? We've already heard those last two? Okay, then next it'll be that Nate Irving and Rahim Moore will be ready to make major contributions after the lockout stunted their professional development, and Knowshon Moreno is ready to thrive without the weight of lofty expectations.
Keep that PR machine churning, Sacco.
* ITBSOHL (In The Best Shape Of His Life) has been popularized by the peerless Mets blog Amazin' Avenue, referring to the sunny optimism that is an annual rite of spring training media coverage.