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.
The Broncos have announced via Twitter that veteran defenders Justin Bannan and Jamal Williams have been released just a year after both were originally signed as free agents. Bannan earned $10.5 million in guarantees as part of his deal with Denver and was due a $500,000 roster bonus and $3.5 million salary in 2011. Williams received $7 million in guarantees with his contract and according to Mike Klis was set to earn a $1 million roster bonus an $4.2 million in salary. Along with the release of Daniel Graham yesterday, Denver has cut $14.4 million in salary and bonus obligations from their 2011 payroll. See Andrew Mason's latest entry for more details.
Also, the Broncos have chosen not to tender RB Laurence Maroney, who was acquired midseason with a sixth-round pick from New England in return for a fourth-rounder.
Update 5:38PM ET - As for the CBA negotiation: according to Jim Trotter via Twitter,
the sides have agreed on the 24-hour extension. they're awaiting approval from judge doty. should be a formality.
Happy Thursday, friends. My computer problems continue, and I’m still awaiting a damn Windows 7 restore disk from Gateway. As such, I am typing from my work laptop tonight (Wednesday), which is exactly what I want to do after working on it all day.
That said, I may not have the most stamina for looking at this little screen, so I’m going to get right to this. All I have is Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, my thoughts, and the natural tenacity of a former United States sailor. Ready…. BEGIN!!
1. A lot of interesting stuff has happened lately around the CBA negotiation, and by the time this drops around noon Thursday, what I’m about to say might be really old news, or even outdated. I’m going to go ahead with some thoughts though, as of 8:40 PM Wednesday night.
Have you ever heard of the term “judicial activist?” It always cracks me up when I hear it used, because depending on your political point of view, it seems that it’s only activism if you disagree with the ruling at hand. A lot of people who say Roe v. Wade was judicial activism sure seemed to think it was cool when 2 of the 5 federal judges who’ve ruled on the Affordable Care Act found the individual mandate to be unconstitutional. Conversely, a lot of people who appreciate Roe v. Wade will tell you that the recent rulings by judges Henry Hudson and John Vinson constitute thinly-veiled political hackery by a couple of Republican appointees.
Of course, if we’re going to have any kind of judicial integrity, none of us can have it both ways, even if we all seem to want to, at times. Judges have to be free to rule as they deem appropriate within the law. David Doty, a Ronald Reagan appointee of 1987, is a Senior District Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. He’s had jurisdiction over the NFL’s CBA since 1993.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Just to reinforce an important point that came up last night regarding the Broncos' tenders: Ryan Harris, Marcus Thomas and Kevin Vickerson will be unrestricted free agents if the next season is to be played under a new CBA. In other words, the only way Denver's contract tenders will have any true meaning is if the 2011 season is played without a CBA, which is a practical impossibility. If anything, offering tenders to these players (as most/all teams did with their younger veterans) can be viewed as just a gesture to express the team's interested in retaining them.
However, Matt Prater and Wesley Woodyard were scheduled to be restricted free agents this offseason no matter what - so their tenders do in fact mean that a team would have to give up a second-round pick to sign either of them, which one would have to think the Broncos would gladly accept with two open and extended arms. Prater may be a terrific kicker and Woodyard an excellent special teamer, but a second-rounder for each? Yes, please!!!
Big oops: Folks, Andrew Mason has redesigned his excellent site, and frankly I was under the impression he was taking a bit of a break. He wasn't, so I haven't read or linked his fine work in awhile - please check out his new design and update your bookmarks! Of course, I will be back to linking his material tomorrow, apologies to y'all for making you read so much Legwold of late...
Tight end Daniel Graham has been released by the Broncos today after four seasons with the team. Meanwhile, Denver extended qualifying offers to several veteran players - right tackle Ryan Harris, placekicker Matt Prater, defensive linemen Marcus Thomas and Kevin Vickerson, and linebacker Wesley Woodyard.
UPDATE 10:13PM ET - According to Klis, Woodyard and Prater received second-round tenders worth $1.835 million, while Harris, Thomas and Vickerson received original round tenders worth $1.2 miliion. However, in the likely case that the next NFL season is played under a new CBA, those latter three players will all be unrestricted free agents.
7:48PM ET - Via Josina and Twitter, Marcus Thomas' agent says the player will not be signing his tender and wants to test unrestricted free agency, for what that's worth...
The question of whether the Broncos will run a 4-3 next season has been answered in the affirmative by John Fox, and changes to the linebacking corps will be forthcoming. There will be a few keys to which scheme the team primarily uses - and the choices of which LBs are kept, which are not, and who is brought in will be central to this decision. I’m going to talk in general about the LB corps, listing the current players and noting some thoughts on them today. At this point, most of us are fairly familiar with the basic duties of the LBs in each system (see the last two entries of Fat Camp for a refresher), so I’ll be more specific as to which I like for each and why.
First and foremost, here’s the issue: according to Brian Xanders, Fox wants smaller, faster linebackers, with coverage as well as run-stopping and pass-rushing skills. That’s normal in most 4-3 approaches, but a long way from most of what Denver has accumulated. He wants them to be smaller, faster and more disruptive. This is a good example of the reason that you try to avoid changing coaches in a nutshell: it’s a tall order, it means finding a new kind of player for the team, and at first glance, I didn’t see it happening. After looking over the linebacker player pool carefully, it isn’t going to be easy either, although it’s doable, depending on whether there’s free agency this year, and whether Denver is willing to pay good money. Certainly, as often happens, some fan favorites such as Mario Haggan may not survive the change, although he’s a very possible temporary fill-in. With these general ideas in mind, here are the current players: