Happy Tuesday, friends. Thanks for joining me for another Serving. As Doug noted yesterday, the topic of the week is the CBA, and we’re going to get into that some today. We’re also going to “sneak in some football” like Peter King did. I'm happy because I just got an email saying that Bunker Hill Golf Course is open today for outdoor play. Even though I'm stuck at work, it puts me in a very good mood, because it reminds me that spring is upon us, even those of us who live in Cleveland. So armed with that good mood, a slow news week, and a drug called Charlie Sheen that's laced with concentrated Tiger Blood, let's get this thing started. Ready….. BEGIN!!!
1. The NFLPA and the NFL continue to negotiate, and I know only one thing for sure. There won’t be a lockout. There will either be a deal or a decertification. The fact that the NFLPA has to decertify in advance of the end of the current CBA to stay in David Doty’s court, and to prevent a lockout dictates that a lockout will never even be an option.
There was some question whether players would actually use the decertification option, but I’m here to tell you, they were ready to do so last Thursday, and they spooked the owners into extending the CBA, first for a day, and then for a week, which continues. Somebody asked last week if I thought that decertification was some kind of despicable pre-planned tactic by the union, and I never found time to respond in the comments. The answer is that I don’t think it’s any more despicable than a lockout. Each side is appropriately a self-interested actor, and has certain tactics they can employ. It just so happens that the NFLPA has the upper hand right now, tactically speaking.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! The details on Kevin Vickerson's new contract are out, and it includes a $1 million signing bonus and a potential value of $4.75 million over two seasons. Plus, Kyle Orton is due to receive his $1.5 million roster bonus on the fifth day of the new league year (in addition to his salary which is just under $7.4 million), while John Elway and John Fox are headed to Auburn's pro day today.
With the merger of the AAFC teams into the NFL, the league was poised to change the way that people viewed the game culturally and literally. The 1950s saw a wide variety of changes to the NFL game that would have repercussions that still reverberate today, and none was bigger than the movement of the games to the newly developed technology, the television. As NFL legend Tex Schramm, who would coordinate the merger of the AFL and NFL, would note, “The Fifties were the decade in which everyone became a watcher instead of a doer.” Television ownership rocketed from around 172,000 in 1949 to over 25 million in 1954. The effects on the game of football were beyond imagining.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! This is going to be a slooooow week in the news department, as the only game in town is the CBA negotiation. Again, the extended deadline (to Friday at 5pm ET) came with the caveat of no player transactions for the entire week. But worry not - Doc, Ted and TJ will be bringing it as always, meaning real analysis and in-depth writing. If you're looking for wild speculation and ridiculous headlines (or perhaps a new mock draft each day) then you know where to go. Obviously, we'll keep you posted on the CBA fun.
Speaking of speculation, among PFW's AFC Whispers they're hearing that Denver is backing off the idea of dealing Kyle Orton. Why? Because as many have pointed out (especially our own readers), John Fox may prefer to have a veteran QB around. Plus, in the event of a lockout, there'd be the possibility of a shortened offseason and therefore little time for a true QB competition. Obviously, we're going to be hearing/reading different versions of this very story for the next 4-6 months, but I think Orton and his $7.379 million salary will still eventually be traded.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer wrote yesterday that the Panthers are not set on taking a defensive lineman first overall in the draft. According to Person's sources (or it may just be his own speculation, it's hard to tell from the way it's written), Carolina is also considering the possibility of selecting Cam Newton or even Blaine Gabbert. Person also raises the potentiality of the Panthers going with Patrick Peterson. Obviously none of this talk is a surprise - it could be that Carolina is merely posturing for the option of trading down, or perhaps they really don't know who they're going to take yet. After all, it's but early March.
Update 11:06AM ET - From Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "A little birdie says the Vikings considered trading for Denver quarterback Kyle Orton but have backed off. But it wasn't because of any progress made by Joe Webb, who insiders say is nowhere close to being an effective starter." (via PFT)
Many questions still swirl around the eye of the NFL's labor storm - through the rooms where the formal negotiations between the NFL owners, usually just called ‘the league’, and the NFLPA. As tends to be the case in modern labor negotiations, the questions at hand are about money - how much is there really, where does it come from, and how will it be divided? Also as usual, these are not simple queries.
The questions of the CBA and the rights of owners and union are extraordinarily complex, and to understand why much of it is the way it is, you have to examine the league's history. The NFL lobbied hard throughout the 1940s and 1950s to be granted an antitrust exemption from the US government. In exchange for obtaining that exemption (an exemption which creates large amounts of money for them and protects them against various legal entanglements), they agreed to various qualifiers which now empower the players' union. The league would like to see that change. The players, and so far the courts, are far less interested in that outcome.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! If you're around my age (33) or older, I'm guessing you grew up seeing the Raiders not as the dysfunctional, JaMarcus the Hutt-led laughingstock of recent years, nor was Al Davis the incoherent whackjob we see today. Rather, the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders were a formidable opponent, evidenced by their 18-15 record against the Broncos during John Elway's career - including an excruciating conclusion to the 1993 season. But beyond the intense rivalry and the Raiders' speed and talent, there was a swagger to them - quite frankly, they were a dirty bunch of cheapshot-doling intimidators that seemed to rack up double-digit penalties in every game. Al sat up there in his white jumpsuit lording over his band of henchmen, and trips to the LA Coliseum were scary - for both the Broncos and their fans. I used to think, "These are just bad guys." The Raiders represented football evil to me, whether it be in the form of their black jerseys and ominous logo, or the late hits from guys like Winston Moss or Nolan Harrison. Well, perhaps there was something to it. Anthony Smith, the Raiders' 1st-round pick in 1990, has been charged with murder along with two other men in the 2008 beating and shooting of a man. This isn't meant to make light of the darkest of situations, but are you really surprised?
According to a multitude of reports on Twitter, the owners have accepted the players' offer to extend the CBA talks for another seven days. The new deadline will be next Friday (March 11) at 5pm ET, and mediated negotiations will resume on Monday. This extension is purely for the sake of working toward a new CBA, so no player transactions will be permitted.
As we move along from the Combine to Pro Days and private workouts, many of the players who may end up on Denver’s board this year are showing what they do - and don’t - do well. There’s no doubt that Denver needs help on the defensive line, especially after yesterday's release of Justin Bannan and Jamal Williams. And if we can believe Brian Xanders and his Mouth of Sauron tendency to speak for Head Coach John Fox, Denver may need some linebackers as well. They do need another safety, and the situation with Ryan Harris, unless solved prior to the draft, may make finding a RT necessary. At the very least, a backup tackle with actual skills seems to be essential, given the time that Harris has spent on the injury report throughout his career. A running back is likely in the mid to later rounds - Denver has one 1st-, two 2nd-, one 3rd-, one 6th- and one 7th-round pick - and they may parlay any of them into more picks. As things stand, they have four picks in the top 67, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.
Happy Friday, Broncos fans! There's at least another day for the NFL and the players' union to come to an agreement on a new CBA, or at least agree to extend the CBA deadline further. As for Denver, they are looking more and more like a team that's going to draft a defensive lineman with their first pick next month after having released last year's free-agent acquisitions Justin Bannan and Jamal Williams. The two veterans were due a combined $1.5 million in roster bonuses and $7.7 million in salary and in April will turn 32 and 35 years old, respectively. While Bannan's release is something of a surprise, one has to interpret the move as meaning the former CU Buff wasn't to be a starter, and therefore an overpriced backup or rotational player.
Denver did make another notable roster move yesterday in re-signing Kevin Vickerson to a two-year deal, and it's a reasonable assumption that he'll be moving inside as a younger, cheaper starter or rotational piece. But the absence of Bannan and Williams makes it seem a lot less likely the Broncos will trade down from the second-overall pick in the draft. That is, unless they have someone other than Marcell Dareus or Nick Fairley in mind as an immediate starter out of the draft.