Broncos bring back Bannan

Thirteen months after cutting him to avoid a $500K roster bonus and $3.5M salary for 2011, the Broncos again signed defensive tackle Justin Bannan, this time to a one-year deal.

Financial terms have not been released yet, but our wildly irresponsible guess is that his salary is fully guaranteed. And as we alluded to this morning, the addition of a solid player like Bannan to the middle of the defense reduces the urgency of overdrafting one in two weeks' time, allowing the team's front office to potentially select for talent over need.

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The Daily Lard 4-11-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Jeff Legwold thinks Denver has to consider BSU's Doug Martin at #25 and says it's unlikely the running back would last until their second pick at #57. Of course, Andy Benoit suggested the other day that the Broncos could even go WR with that first pick.

All this has Mark Kiszla in a tiszy, because as he sees it, Denver would be crazy not to draft a defensive tackle there. Kiz says the Broncos must go "defense, defense, defense" in two weeks. Defensive tackle is absolutely a need, yet again. It would be an utter shock, yet again, if the team doesn't draft one or two of them, and relatively highly, at that. But that doesn't mean the team has to take one at 25. If Denver goes offense there and ends up with five defenders among their next six picks, are we really going to be apoplectic?

What if they sign Justin Bannan? What if Marcus Thomas comes back?

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The Daily Lard 4-10-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Mike Klis says Denver would like to draft a back who will at some point this year become the primary runner, to be spelled by Willis McGahee, with Knowshon Moreno as the third-down guy.

Klis also points out that Caleb Hanie received no guarantees as part of his two-year deal, and he expects the Broncos to draft a QB somewhere between the second and fifth rounds, and to perhaps sign another veteran too.

Adding to what Jeff Legwold had written yesterday, Klis says Denver's offer to Jeff Saturday was around $2.5M per year, a pittance compared to the $4M that Green Bay will pay the veteran center this year.

Meanwhile, Klis is making a push to sell his Tebow books to the New Jersey fans - he says that although Mark Sanchez is a swell guy whom he's more fond of than are most people, Timmy is just a better quarterback. Really. And as Klis sees it, Tebow is completely innocent as far as the circus that follows him around.

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Scouting the Draft: 2012 Defensive tackles

It's Lying Season for the NFL (moreso than usual), but it's no great secret the Broncos have a significant need at defensive tackle, again. Last month I profiled Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox, who is expected to be long gone when Denver makes its first pick at #25, provided they remain there. If that scenario indeed plays out, what will be the Broncos' options?

Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy has been talked about quite a bit. Certainly, cornerback is a point of need: perhaps of greatest need other than under tackle. Other folks will have other perspectives, but I think that in general, while interior OL, MLB (unless they like Nate Irving), RB, and possibly safety are all areas of need in degree, press-man coverage CBs and one-gap penetrating DTs might be the hardest to find as the draft moves on.

There are always the players who work out later in the draft, but my feeling is that the lines and the CBs are essential to Denver’s success this year. So is the Mike, but since we don’t know what Denver’s plans for Irving are, and we do on these two positions, I’m going to take the step of looking at the most desirable of the available DTs in Denver’s theoretical scope of scheme - the penetrating under tackle. Sadly, letting Brodrick Bunkley get away has also played hob with the nose tackle position, and some of these players make sense at either slot.

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The Daily Lard 4-9-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The struggles continue for 2011 fourth-rounder Julius Thomas, whose high-ankle sprain last year allowed him just four games played and one catch. According to his father, Thomas underwent surgery last week to repair ligament damage in that ankle, and his availability for training camp is in doubt.

Thomas's lingering injury calls to Andrew Mason's mind the Denver failure of basketball convert Wesley Duke, who dressed for three games and caught just a pair of passes after being hailed as the next Antonio Gates by Shanny & Company. Meanwhile, Mason is glad Tim Tebow was never as creative in retelling history during his time with the Broncos as he was yesterday, when he happened to squeeze an Easter Sunday sermon into his busy football schedule.

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The Daily Lard 4-8-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Dan Pompei says the Broncos' acquisition of Peyton Manning, their trade of Tim Tebow to New Jersey, the signings of Alex Smith in San Francisco and Matt Flynn with Seattle, and Shanny's trade up to the #2 pick have created a sense of desperation for the teams that failed to land a big QB fish this offseason.

And the potential outcome of this urgency is A&M passer Ryan Tannehill flying up draft boards, perhaps even into the top five or ten picks to the Browns at four, Dolphins at eight, or the Chiefs at #11. Why? Because it's all about quarterbacks in this league, as the last nine Super Bowls have been won by the Manning brothers (three combined), Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger (two each), Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees (one each).

Adam Teicher says that after having passed up on Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez, and Josh Freeman in recent years, Tannehill could be the guy that makes KC pounce. As Teicher sees it, the Chiefs roster has few holes, with QB being perhaps the most glaring one.

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Broncos DT options narrow, Okoye signs with Bucs

Tonight, Adam Caplann tweeted:

The #Buccaneers and DT Amobi Okoye agreed to a one-year, two mill deal, his agents Darin Morgan and Ian Greengross confirmed.

The Broncos were rumored to be interested in Okoye for over a week, although this interest was never confirmed by the Broncos.

Meanwhile, we await news on both Justin Bannan and Marcus Thomas. 

The Daily Lard 4-7-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The fallout from the Gregg Williams pre-game speech continues; documentarian Sean Pamphilon says he did not violate his agreement with ex-Saint Steve Gleason by releasing the damning audio clip.

Several current and ex-players chimed in after hearing the speech: Giants legend Carl Banks interpreted it as 90-95% metaphorical coach-speak; Vikings punter Chris Kluwe says that other 10% is a big problem; Cris Carter thinks Williams should be banned for life; Antonio Pierce says he heard the same speech from every defensive coordinator he played for in the NFL.

Mike Lombardi echoes Mike Silver's column from yesterday in stating that Williams's status as a virtual independent contractor with full control over his defenses is what permitted him to operate as he did.

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Champ Bailey and YAC and smoking crack

Earlier in the week, Football Outsiders reported that in 2011, Champ Bailey gave up more yards after the catch (YAC) than any other cornerback in the league.

Was this a sign that Bailey was getting older, losing a step, or declining in skills?

On the surface, it's easy to look at Bailey's YAC stat and smoke the crack (and become immediately paranoid). If you had not watched a Broncos game all year, you'd assume Bailey was either missing a lot of tackles after the receiver caught the ball or he was getting beat deep badly.  Luckily, the gang at FO qualified the numbers:

Now, let's be clear: These YAC allowed numbers generally don't say much about the actual quality of a cornerback. There's generally very little correlation between a cornerback's rank in Success Rate and his rank in YAC allowed. Still, it is very strange to see Champ Bailey giving up the most average YAC of any starting cornerback in 2011 -- and by a wide margin. Isn't he known as an excellent tackler for a cornerback? Yes, and there isn't much evidence that this is an issue of tackling. We only recorded Bailey with two broken tackles on plays where he was in coverage. He just seemed to have a few more plays than usual where guys got behind him on short- and mid-range routes.

As we always preach around these parts, stats are nothing without context.  So let's provide some when it comes to Bailey and his YAC (not to be confused with GOAT, which is purely a term reserved for Norv Turner).

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The heat is on Gregg Lard 4-6-12

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Roger Goodell heard appeals from the Saints, Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis, and Joe Vitt yesterday, and his decision is expected sometime next week. But the big story was the release of the audio recording of Gregg Williams's speech prior to the Saints' playoff game versus the Niners.

Naturally, reaction was strong and swift: Michael Irvin said he almost threw up while listening to it; Warren "QB Killa" Sapp called Dr. Heat's speech the most heinous, egregious thing in NFL history and says he wouldn't have stood for such a thing during his career.

White Sox GM Kenny Williams, father of 49ers WR Kyle Williams (who was a specific target in the speech due to a prior concussion) suggested that the banned coordinator's behavior bordered on criminality; Niners safety Donte Whitner recalls that the Saints were unusually vicious in the teams' preseason matchup last year.

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