Happy Friday, friends. As we seem to be nearing a CBA settlement, I’ve decided to re-engage on some of the substance of the issues, as reported in the last day. As usual, I have thoughts. Ready… BEGIN!!! (It feels good to say that, and to give y’all a healthy serving.)
1. The news about the agreement on the rookie wage scale is major, but not unexpected. The reporting in recent days has been that that was the dominant topic, and as engaged as the two sides have been, and now that they’re both negotiating fully in good faith, it’s no surprise that an accord was eventually reached. (Too bad that doesn’t hold true on the federal government’s debt ceiling negotiations.)
Assuming the reporting is correct, the NFL has essentially copied the only smart thing that the NBA has been doing with their salary structure. They’ve introduced an honest-to-goodness risk management plan, and fundamentally re-valued draft picks. This is great for the quality of the NFL, and its ability to promote parity across the entire league landscape.
Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Last night's labor talks, which reportedly included agreements on a rookie wage scale and a 2011 salary cap, wrapped up around 10pm ET and will pick up again this morning at 9am ET. According to Chris Mortensen, the fifth-year option included in rookie contracts for first-rounders would mean for a player drafted in the top 10 (like Von Miller) a salary equal to the average of the top 10 players at his position. For the rest of the first-rounders (picks 11-32) that option would be worth the average of the player salaries ranked 3-25 at their respective positions.
In the case of all first-rounders, a team would be able to exercise that fifth-year option following the player's third season and his salary would then become guaranteed. This latest report doesn't specify what, if anything, changes about the option if it is exercised following the player's fourth year. So under this framework, Von Miller will be under contract through the 2014 season, with the Broncos holding an expensive option to keep him through 2015 - relative to 2009 data, that salary would be around $10 million.
Adam Schefter is reporting that the players and owners have agreed upon a new rookie wage scale and are one step closer to reaching a new CBA. According to John Clayton, all first-round picks would receive four-year rookie contracts with fifth-year options which teams would be able to exercise following the players' third and fourth seasons.
Although the two sides were not previously scheduled to meet tomorrow, they are now expected to continue their talks late into the night and reconvene tomorrow. The issues yet to be resolved include workers' comp, settlement of the TV damages suit and the Brady suit, and the extra rights of first refusal owners are seeking to help them retain free agents this year. According to ESPN's report, the owners are (of course) asking that the players recertify their union and omit judicial oversight from future labor disputes.
UPDATE 9:50PM ET - Clayton is now reporting that the two sides have agreed to set the 2011 salary cap at $120 million with a salary floor close to 100 percent of that number, while Sal Paolantonio says an agreement is close at hand
Second-year Denver WR Demaryius Thomas, who is rehabbing from surgery to repair a torn Achilles' tendon, has denied an allegation that he received $312 worth of clothing from a sports agency employee in 2009 while a member of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. GT vacated its 2009 ACC football championship game victory, was fined $100K and its football and men's hoops programs were placed on probation until July of 2015 for failing to cooperate with the NCAA in its investigation of the school. Thomas, a first-round pick of the Broncos in 2010, disputed the validity of the report in a text message to the DP. The NCAA said that GT should have declared (Thomas) ineligible for its final three games in 2009, including its ACC title game victory over Clemson and Orange Bowl loss to Iowa.
Zane Beadles and J.D. Walton tagged along with Tim Tebow to the ESPYs last night...
Apparently when you get #verified this kind of stuff starts happening... #fatmanswag http://t.co/u5GOaXu #verified gets you into the @espnmag #stylestudio a well.... thanks to them for a great experience! #fatmanswag...Great time at the @ESPYs with @TimTebow and JD Walton. Time to get my monkey suit off and let my hair down.
Which sparked a bit of jealousy among their teammates...
Woodyard: @zanebeadles hey how did you get front row tickets to the espys? its good to be tebows friend isnt it lol
Ayers: @CassiusVaughn @WoodDro59 my question is what he do for him to get them seats... Lol
Vaughn: @1_900_ayersjr @WoodDro59 i was thinking the same thing he his new bodyguard....lol
Ayers: @CassiusVaughn protecting his body all right...
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Punter Britton Colquitt and his brother Dustin who punts for the Chiefs, were both on with Vic & Gary on Tuesday, and Dustin had some interesting insight into Handshake Haley's finger wag last season at the Big IF. According to Dustin, Haley believed McDaniels and the Broncos had cheated their way to their emphatic 49-29 Week 10 victory; it would be McDaniels' final win as Denver's head coach. The elder Colquitt told Vic & Gary,
Todd was just kind of saying, ‘Look, with the game plan we had and what you guys already knew we were gonna do, this is,’ basically saying it was ‘bush, bush, league.’
Hmm. Haley may have apologized for the handshake snub, but obviously these new details should make for some nice media drama fodder should the two meet again. Here is the podcast from the Colquitt brothers' radio appearance; the McDaniels/Haley talk begins around the 7m09s mark.
Denver draftee Mike Mohamed understands the role of a linebacker acquired as a sixth-round pick (189 overall) in the modern NFL. He’s going to have to start out on special teams and show that he can be a core player for that squad. Special teams are 80% about desire and inner fire. It’s how a player gets noticed by the coaches.
“Yeah, definitely,” Mohamed said. “I already know that’s kind of my ticket. I’ve done them all throughout my college career. Like I said (earlier), I’ll go in wherever they need me.”
Born on March 11, 1988, Mohamed grew up in Brawley, CA and attended Brawley High School, where he played linebacker and tight end for head coach John Bishop. Mohamed was a natural leader from an early age and he led his Wildcats squad to the CIF section championship game and semifinals during his junior and senior seasons. For his efforts, he was named the Imperial Valley Defensive Player of the Year and was the team MVP as a senior, registering 62 tackles, five sacks, 14 tackles for loss and six blocked punts. He was a First-Team All-Imperial Valley League selection and a second-team medium schools All-State choice by CalHiSports, and was also made a member of the San Diego Hall of Champions defensive team. Mike was offered scholarships from both San Diego State and California. A natural athlete, Mohamed had also played forward on the basketball team as a junior. Always a top scholar, Mike was also chosen for the San Diego Union Tribune All-Academic team as a high school senior.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Woody Paige shares more of his conversation with John Fox from last week, discussing the coach's outlook on free agency. As Paige explains, Fox was hamstrung in Carolina by owner Jerry Richardson's two-year austerity plan to prepare for the lockout, which included a lack of significant free-agent signings. Fox told Woody he'd like to build his team primarily through the draft and fill holes via free agency, explaining that the Broncos may not necessarily acquire any of the more expensive veterans available, adding that such players "usually have some baggage."
After Fox reiterates the team's need for another running back, Paige goes on to write that the Broncos should add some defensive tackles, an offensive tackle and a fullback. He also suggests the team should acquire another defensive back and tight end, but Denver already has an abundance of players at those positions, with essentially four TEs likely fighting for three spots (excluding Daniel Coats) and 13 corners and safeties for 9 or 10 spots (not counting Nick Polk and Chevis Jackson). It's hard to picture any veterans wanting to throw themselves into those jam-packed sections of the depth chart, and the lack of OTAs and mini-camps means the coaching staff will have less time to evaluate players.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Mike Klis reiterates his belief that Tim Tebow will be the starting QB in Denver this season while Kyle Orton will be dealt away. Klis also admits a couple of times that he basically doesn't ever watch film, although granted he's a beat reporter and not an analyst as his passionate colleague Legwold is supposed to be. In doing so, he bizarrely dismisses the assessment of a reader who took the time to study some college play of Von Miller and Nate Irving with the old "let's see them play in the NFL before criticizing them."
Yet, Klis does feel knowledgeable enough to proclaim that Josh McDaniels doesn't scheme the running game well, and Klis doesn't know why Steve Spagnuolo hired him to coach the Rams' offense. Nevermind the Broncos improvement there in the second half of 2010 or the Pats' 2,278 rushing yards and 21 TDs in 2008 (McDaniels' last year there). It's fair to say the ex-coach of the Broncos perhaps didn't run the ball enough at times; but the suggestion that he doesn't know how to and that will be the difference under John Fox and Mike McCoy is ludicrous. Good to see the DP is rounding into form as a labor agreement and training camp hopefully near...
It's pretty much an inevitability that the lockout will create issues for all players new to their teams, whether traded players, veteran free agents, draftees or undrafted rookies. Even if a new agreement were reached tomorrow (an unlikely scenario), countless players will already be so far behind the curve, having missed out on playbooks, mini-camps, OTAs and coaching that they won’t be able to contribute right away. For some rookies, their first year could end up a lost one, as coaches will tend to use veterans when possible - they know the game better, and in the Broncos' case the offensive players will be working out of a simpler version of Josh McDaniels' playbook that they’ve already had to master, so they face a stronger likelihood of playing well.
But many of the draft picks are looking at an uphill climb. I think that LB Von Miller has a good shot at contributing right away - he’s played within both 3-4 and 4-3 defenses in college, he was moved around quite a bit as a senior in his Joker role and he’s played in coverage as well as setting the edge and attacking the quarterback. He’s likely to be on Robert Ayers’ left for a lot of his plays, and that won’t hurt either - Ayers has two years under his belt, although he was hurt for part of last season, and he’s shown that he’s a steady player who sets the edge, collapses the pocket and who will clear the way for Miller quite frequently. The strong side of the Broncos' defense could be tough to gain yardage against. For those reasons, Von’s likely to pick up quickly on the Broncos' defensive scheme, whatever it may be, because he’s already bounced from scheme to scheme and excelled in each.