Mediator George Cohen released a statement today regarding the labor negotiations between the NFL and the players' union, which will resume next Tuesday:
I can report that throughout this extensive period the parties engaged in highly focused, constructive dialogue concerning a host of issues covering both economics and player-related conditions...At bottom, some progress was made, but very strong differences remain on the all-important core issues that separate the parties...During the intervening weekend, the parties have been asked by us to assess their current positions on those outstanding issues.
Ahh, coachspeak. Broncos coach John Fox met with the press earlier today at the Combine, offering a slew of non-answers to the typical softballs. Fortunately, we've been working here at Fat Man on a special coachspeak translator device. Here's what it made of Fox's presser today:
What Fox said (WFS): "With the second pick, you're obviously going to get a heck of a football player."
What he really meant (WHRM): If we don't get a stud at #2, pool boy Xanders is outta here. Trust me.
WFS: "Right now, Kyle Orton is our starter."
WHRM: We expect to receive a 3rd- or 4th-rounder in exchange for Kyle. Who's offering?
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Ahh, it's been a while since we got a true gem out of Legwold - but it's Combine time, so he'll be writing up a storm. Today, he covers what he deems the Broncos' biggest roster needs outside the defense's front seven. First, Legwold says John Fox likes more physical TEs and decries the Broncos' lack of a touchdown from that position in 2010. Meanwhile, the Panthers got 2 TDs out of their guys last year, who happen to be a bit smaller than Denver's current group. No mention of the fact that tight ends just don't see the ball as much in Josh McDaniels' offense - that doesn't mean they lack receiving ability. But as for physicality, are Daniel Graham and Richard Quinn really lacking in that department?
Next up, Legwold continues his "DeAngelo Williams is a bigger, tougher back who fits Fox's profile better" narrative. In case you were wondering, Williams weighs five pounds less than does Knowshon Moreno, twelve fewer than Correll Buckhalter and falls thirty pounds shy of LenDale White. But yeah, let's upsize and add durability to our RB corps by signing DeAngelo, who by the way has missed 13 games over the past two seasons (Knowshon missed 3). Finally, Legwold says the Broncos could use some help at safety (well, one out of four ain't bad) and wide receiver. Yeah, wide receiver. Even with Demaryius Thomas and Eddie Royal rehabbing from their surgeries, we're long Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney, Eric Decker, Matthew Willis, and Eron Riley has a future contract. But sure - as the Broncos supposedly move toward being more of a power running team, they should draft some more wideouts. Makes perfect sense...
Tuesday Wednesday, friends - and welcome to the Year in Review Edition of You Got Served. Since that sterling example of journalistic football excellence, Peter King, ran his YIR piece Monday, I feel like I need to one-up him today, as I review the year that has been.
January, 2010 – I left MileHighReport.com and started a website that I was sure was going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Sliced bread is pretty damn great, so I was setting a high standard for myself.
February, 2010 – I started to realize that writing all of the content, doing all of the site’s technology management, and still working a full-time job was a lot. Still, I pressed on.
March, 2010 – I still pressed on, and imagined that I was learning what it was like to bang my head against a wall repeatedly.
April, 2010 – I felt burned out from football writing, and after the Draft, I took a break that ultimately resulted in being the end of SmarterFans.com. It wasn’t that good from the beginning anyway, and I knew it. On the bright side, I got asked to play in a golf tournament at work - never having played much golf, I bought clubs, started taking lessons, and set about trying not to embarrass myself in June, when it was time to play.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Yesterday was a great day for the Broncos and their fans with new of Champ Bailey's re-signing. However, his new deal isn't quite the steal as was originally reported - in addition to the $15 million in guarantees over the contract's first two seasons, $7 million of Bailey's 2013 salary will be protected against injury, and his entire salary will become fully guaranteed five days into the 2013 league year. Champ has essentially been guaranteed $22 million, and unless the team cuts him before sometime in March of 2013, Denver will be locked into paying him $32.5 million over three seasons.
Apparently, this is what happens when a team breaks contract news instead of the normally self-serving player agents doing so - or Champ's representative Jack Reale is the most humble agent in history. With another rep involved and someone like Josina or Pasquarelli reporting, this deal would have hit the wire as having $32.5 million in guarantees. See how that works? An agent would've called it $32.5 million, the team places it at $15 million and the reality is actually $22 million - a number much closer to what I had predicted. (I went to sleep last night feeling both out of touch with NFL finances and ecstatic for the Broncos.)
Back-patting aside, this is still a good deal for Denver - just not as fantabulous as it had seemed last night. It brings back Denver's best player over the past seven seasons (and a key leader), and the Broncos have one less gaping hole to address in their defense this offseason. Plus, if Champ is indeed willing to shift over to safety at some point during this contract (as he had said earlier), the Broncos have some protection on their investment should the player lose a step.
John Elway has announced via Twitter that the Broncos have agreed to a new contract with Champ Bailey:
We are thrilled to announce that the Broncos have agreed to terms on a new four-year contract with cornerback Champ Bailey. Champ is truly one of the NFL's elite players, a 10-time Pro Bowler who is playing at the absolute highest level. The commitment and loyalty that Champ has shown to the Broncos, the city of Denver and this region is exemplary. We're fortunate to have Champ with the Broncos for a long time. This is a GREAT day for our entire organization and our fans.
According to the Denver Post, Bailey has given the Broncos what is quite clearly a hometown discount - only $15 million is guaranteed over the life of the four-year deal. He will receive a guaranteed $11 million salary in 2011, with $4 million of his 2012 compensation guaranteed. Frankly, this is a stunningly favorable deal for the team which Bailey has been a part of for seven seasons now. The retention of the 10-time Pro Bowl cornerback promises Denver some stability at a position that was suddenly looking thin considering the legal issues of rookie Perrish Cox and the until-now murky status of Bailey.
After exploring the basics of the 3-4 options in last week's Fat Camp, today we’ll take a tour of the basics of the 4-3 options. This is the direction that John Fox will take Denver’s D - a zone-coverage dominant, bend-don’t-break approach that requires the offense to do the right thing over and over in order to gain territory, and that prevents the big plays that have killed Denver’s chances over the past two years. While some of that has been the lack of a running game or a ball control offense (as well as the offense's struggles in the red zone) to protect the D, the defense has been dropping to the bottom of the league for some seasons now. Having reached that final level of futility, I look for Denver to make a lot of changes over the next two years. One will be the move to a 4-3.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Lombardi is again writing about a lack of support for Tim Tebow within the Broncos organization. He says that holdovers from the organization pre-John Fox are "looking to distance themselves" from the decision to draft the quarterback last year. While it has seemed (to some) so far this offseason that Lombardi was pursuing some sort of agenda (perhaps on behalf of his friend Josh McDaniels), is his assertion anything different than what we've seen out of Dove Valley these past two months? Brian Xanders has already disavowed himself of practically every move McDaniels made, while John Elway has gone a lot farther than the typical "things just didn't work out" that one would expect.
Frankly, it's not that hard to figure out who Lombardi is referring to - it must be either Xanders, Mike McCoy, or both. QB coach Adam Gase, who worked with the WRs last year? Doesn't seem likely. I know that some of our readers have taken issue with Lombardi's statements regarding Tebow, but consider his body of work. Lombardi is one of the most knowledgeable and reasonable football analysts around, and it's hard to believe his reporting on Tebow is driven by anything of a personal nature. Lombardi is no Len Pasquarelli, folks.
As we prepare for the upcoming draft, it's worth looking back to discover the history of the event, which is intricately tied to the birth and development of the league, and its attempts to deal with salaries, eligibility and team building. Over the next several weeks, I'm going to offer a partial history of the patterns and practices of the NFL Draft that will touch on those issues, as well as those of the practice of scouting, team success and even the beginnings of the computer age, each of which has played its own role in the history of the league. Come along with me as I stroll back into the past, to a time before the Great Depression, when an organization changed its name and became a national institution that would endure, flourish and grow over the next 90-plus years into the remarkable entity we know as the National Football League.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Toni Monkovic of the Times posted a lengthy interview with NFLN's Mike Mayock regarding the upcoming draft, and there's plenty of fascinating insight from Mayock. Of interest to us, he says that Cam Newton has better throwing mechanics than Tim Tebow, but of course the questions are whether he can handle an NFL playbook. Later on, Mayock states that the most important characteristic of a quarterback is not his physical ability, but his aptitude in understanding the complexities of a nuanced NFL offense and in reading defenses. He then points to a quick release, good feet and an athletic body, in that order of import. One has to think after reading this of Josh McDaniels and his praise for Tebow when he drafted the quarterback - the Broncos' former coach spoke most glowingly about Tebow's ability to quickly retain and recall terminology, much more so than about any of the QB's physical traits.