The Daily Lard 2-16-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In addition to guard C.J. Davis, Denver signed former Jaguars and Niners WR Jason Hill to a one-year deal yesterday. The 6-foot, 202-lb receiver (he's apparently shrunk an inch since cattle call combine, or got a haircut?) has 76 catches for 1,028 yards and eight TDs in 50 career games; he has virtually no experience as a return man, with just one kick return as a pro and two punt returns in college.

Last year for Jacksonville he caught 25 of the 53 passes thrown his way for 367 yards (14.7 YPR) and three scores, along with four drops. Hill will turn 27 next Monday and was originally drafted by the Niners in the third round of the 2007 Draft (76th overall) out of WSU after running the second-fastest combine time that year among receivers with a blistering 4.32-second forty.

Hill's speed will be a much-needed addition to an offense that had hardly any in 2011, whether at running back or wideout. Andrew Mason seems to think the signing of Hill makes it even less likely that Denver would bring back free agent Eddie Royal, despite Woody Paige's claims to the contrary. Eddie will surely present a hopeful outlook on Facebook and Twitter about sticking around, but he's a sunny guy. We can take his pro-Tebow comments at face value, or we can note that Tim targeted Eddie just 48 times in 12 games -  28 times in Denver's last nine games. Anyone really think he wants to be third or fourth banana again and relegated to return duty? Don't count on it.

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Scouting the Broncos: A first look at free agency

It’s that time again - almost spring - when a young man’s fancies turn lightly to free agency and the draft. Equally, it’s much like love in that there’s often more wishful thinking than reason to the players that are mentioned. That being the case, I thought I’d jot some things down regarding important areas of the Broncos' rebuilding project.

John Elway has confirmed exactly what a lot of our readers have expressed hope for - that the Broncos intend to build through the draft and fill gaps in free agency. The thing is, just as it is with Denver’s own, that most free agents would just as soon not move and have to rebuild relationships without a lot of good reasons, most of them green. The Carl Nickses of the league aren't likely shots, to put it mildly, although you never really know who will become available or have a tiff with their team. However - there are a lot of good players available who can help Denver immediately via either free agency or the draft. I’ll be covering this by position, post-Combine, to add some draft options, but here are some rarely stressed basics to think seriously about.

First on the list? Remember to check for unrestricted free agents (UFA) vs. restricted free agents (RFA). Folks should keep in mind that taking on an RFA would cost the Broncos a draft pick as compensation to the former team, in addition to the monetary value of whatever contract they give the player. It could happen with the right deal, but it's highly unlikely. Those valuable picks are going to be the basis for the rebuilding process - I can seen trading out of the 25th-overall pick for a couple of second-rounders, for example. Denver needs more picks, not less.

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The Daily Lard 2-15-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Adding to yesterday's news that Tim Tebow is working with new UCLA OC Noel Mazzone on his mechanics, it's worthwhile to note the duo has teamed up before. Prior to Tebow's pro day in 2010, he worked with Mazzone, Marc Trestman, Zeke Bratkowski, and Sam Wyche. Here's some of what Mazzone had to say back then:

I think it's going to change some opinions...He looks totally different to me...This guy's an NFL quarterback in my eyes.

I'm not trying to change the guy's motion. I went back and looked at his high school film. He's got a great motion.

It's different when you're in the gun your whole life and not making five- and seven-step drops. Bad feet make bad throws. We worked a lot on loading up his back foot, having good posture and getting his feet and body more involved with his throw.

(h/t AldenBrown)

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Rosterbating on 60 stacks

Whatchall know about that scrilla?  I decided to follow the front page of the IAOFM site from Monday, and play off of the article that Doug referenced yesterday that put the Broncos on $50 million of cap room.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the Broncos' finances lately, and some other tangential thoughts.  It’s all part of being a football-thinking accountant, I guess.

Let’s start out with a provocative thought, right off the top.  It’s unquestionable that the Broncos were better off making the playoffs in 2011 than not.  I know that some of you disagree with that, and I’m here to tell you, you’re wrong.  That doesn’t make you a bad person, and in recognition of that fact, I’m going to explain what I mean by “unquestionable.”

First, let’s do away with the Draft Fallacy.  That’s the one that says that because the Broncos were 12th out of 12 playoff teams in talent, that they handicapped their future by making it too soon.  You see, say these people, the Broncos would have picked 17th in the Draft, and by making the playoffs, the best they could do was 21st.  By winning a playoff game (the horror!) they ended up at 25th. 

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The Daily Lard 2-14-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! There's perhaps a bit of disconnect between the title and the article, but Mike Klis says there's a good chance Denver will use its franchise tag on K Matt Prater this offseason. The title says the team is "likely" to do so, while Klis simply writes that "Prater is the strongest candidate" to be tagged, so it's unclear how much of this is based upon something out of Dove Valley and how much is simply Klis speculating.

Either way, it's kind of a no-brainer if the team were unable to agree to a long-term deal with Prater, as according to Klis, tagging a kicker is like to only cost a team around $2.6M for the 2013 season. Plus, the tag is often used by teams to buy more time to agree to a longer contract.

None of Denver's other free agents figure to be tag-worthy, as placing the restriction on Brodrick Bunkley or Marcus Thomas would require overpaying either of them with a $7.9M salary; Wesley Woodyard would get $8.8M, and Eddie Royal would command $9.4M - it's pretty safe to say the Broncos will not be shelling out anything close to those amounts on a one-year contract for any of those players.

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The road untravelled: Rey Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict

This week, one of the players that was heavily on fans’ minds for Denver in the 2009 Draft was again arrested: Ray Maualuga. The first time it was in 2010 in Kentucky, on a drunken driving charge that warranted a seven-day suspended jail sentence, a suspension of his license suspended for 90 days, and participation in a drug and alcohol rehab program. This time, booze is involved again - he allegedly punched a bar manager in the face early on Saturday morning.

Maualuga had a substantial number of black marks against him for childish and errant behavior prior to the draft, and he dropped from the 1st to the 2nd round. He played in all games in 2009 and ‘10 and started 13 games this past year as well. He’s been a decent player for the Bengals - not the huge impact Mike that was predicted, but a fair quality of play, without question. Still, he had four QB pressures but neither a sack nor a QB hit last season. He had 86 tackles and notched 43 stops, but those were tempered by a glaring 12 missed tackles. Over his three years with Cincinnati he has had two sacks in total and three interceptions - not huge stats, just decent ones. Part of production is system-based.

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The Daily Lard 2-13-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Andrew Mason summarized the issues facing Broncos this offseason for the Sporting News, first pointing out the team had the second-worst point differential of any playoff team in NFL history. Mason says Denver is fond of Nate Irving's potential, and he wouldn't be surprised to see Irving end up the starting Mike in 2012. Obviously, Mason is in possession of some inaccurate information and/or hasn't checked in with überscout and Denver pulse-reader Woody Paige, who says Irving "didn't wow anybody."

According to Mason, both starting DTs Marcus Thomas and Brodrick Bunkley would like to return via free agency, although of course the team will be looking to improve its inside pass rush - the duo combined for a minus-16.8 pass rush grade which tempered their stellar plus-39.0 score against the run (31.2 of which was credited to Bunkley).

If Brian Dawkins should retire, Mason suggests ex-Panthers S Chris Harris as a possible replacement as a veteran presence to aid the progress of Quinton Carter and Rahim Moore. However, this would not be advisable since it would be really f#$%ing confusing to have two Chris Harrises. NFL.com is already unable to handle the problem, as the Bronco's profile is adorned with a photo of the recent Lion.

As for Tim Tebow, Mason thinks the team will likely telegraph their intentions by virtue of what veteran QB they sign to either back up or compete with Tim.

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The Daily Lard 2-12-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! RIP, Whitney Houston.

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Ten Worst Moves of 2011: #8 - Fox “screws” Tebow

(Note: This is the third part in an Epic a mini ten-part series on the Worst Moves of 2011; we'll also be doing a ten-part mini on the Ten Best Moves of 2011.  If you want to see #10: Trading Jabar Gaffney, click here; #9: The Duke Takes on Twitter, click here.)

As Tom Nalen said earlier in the week, it's all Josh McDaniels' fault.

Last time we hooked up, dear readers, I pointed out John Elway's mishaps into social media.  I speculated that because of the previous regime, one in which Josh McDaniels went all WW2 propaganda on everyone (loose lips sink ships, y'all), the Denver Broncos were set on making 2011 one in which there were multiple points of contact, interviews were as easy to come by as substance abuse in Oakland, and the organization was open and transparent as a Knowshown Moreno personalized license plate.

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The Daily Lard 2-11-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! A pair of academic economists thinks the end of football is a much stronger likelihood than most of us are willing to consider, especially as we learn more about the wide-ranging and long-lasting effects of head injuries. Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier believe either liability suits or potentially conclusive medical research linking CTE to football will bring down our beloved sport, as parents seek to protect their children and those involved in the sport at the coaching and administrative levels depart due to litigation fears.

An earlier Grantland piece by Jonah Lehrer (sorry to say we missed this one the first time around) addresses the difficulties facing high school coaches and medical staffs as they attempt to prevent, diagnose, and treat concussions. Sadly, even the most generously funded and purely intentioned of programs appear to be losing that battle, which cannot speak well for those with smaller budgets and less institutional dedication to attacking a problem which may have no solution.

If that's the case, Cowen and Grier suggest that basketball will become America's sport if or when football loses its stranglehold. So, how about this Jeremy Lin?

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