Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Perhaps Matt Prater hasn't signed his franchise tag because he's been waiting for someone else to set the market.
Well, consider it set.
Tampa Bay inked their kicker Connor Barth to a four-year deal worth a total of $13.2M, including $4M in guarantees, which is a modest increase over the $2.6M franchise tag tendered to Barth (same amount as Prater).
Of the five kickers to be tagged this offseason, Barth is the only one with a long-term deal; Cincy's Mike Nugent and Cleveland's Phil Dawson ($3.81M) signed their one-year tenders, while Prater and Jacksonville's Josh Scobee have not. As for unrestricted free agent kickers, none of them got a whole lot of cash this offseason; John Kasay got an undisclosed one-year deal in New Orleans, Arizona gave Jay Feely $2.5M over two seasons, Washington signed Neil Rackers for $990K, and the Jets gave Nick Folk and Josh Brown one-year deals worth $765K and $855K, respectively.
Kicking statistics corrected 11am ET July 3, 2012
Broncos owner Pat Bowlen has announced that legendary WR Rod Smith will become the next member of the team's Ring of Fame. Said Mr. B in a statement:
Players like Rod don’t come through your door very often, but he came through ours every day with a purpose and hunger to be great. Rod’s production and numbers -- as outstanding as they were -- paled in comparison to his commitment to winning and the respect he commanded from each and every one of his teammates throughout his career. Emerging from an undrafted player to one of the best to ever play his position, Rod has truly earned his place among the greatest Broncos of all time.
I am thankful for everything Rod contributed to this franchise during his time with the Broncos, and I congratulate him on his well-deserved election to the Ring of Fame.
Smith, who was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Missouri Southern State in 1994, was a Bronco for 12 seasons, setting regular and postseason franchise records for receptions, receiving yards, and TD catches. His numbers also rank as the best in league history for an undrafted receiver.
Updated 7:49 pm ET
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Let's all wish a Happy Birthday to HOFer Ace Parker, who turns 100 today and is the oldest living ex-NFL player; Andy Barall shares his story.
Mike Klis says the Broncos are working towards signing all of their draft picks, and are close to deals with top choices Derek Wolfe and Brock Osweiler. Of course, thanks to the rookie pay system as structured by the new CBA, this is all a formality.
Incredibly, there's talk the Ravens and Eagles could try to dock the pay of Terrell Suggs and Jason Peters for their recent injuries, on the grounds that they were suffered away from team facilities. Apparently, the CBA stipulates that injuries suffered during off-site training sessions are considered non-football injuries.
So between drafted rookies possessing zero negotiating power as to their salary or team, players potentially getting docked for injuries while working out, and restricted free agency resulting in zero offer sheets this year, what did the players really gain in the latest CBA? Lighter practices and earlier free agency? That's it? And to think, so many fans took ownership's side and decried the supposed greed and selfishness of the players after ownership locked them out...
I love the history of football. In its beginnings a brutal sport nearly banned at many colleges, it took over 30 years to reach a level of maturity and acceptance by the American public in the 1950s and 1960s. The growth in the sport since then has in many ways reflected the positives in the evolution of American culture.
Football has increasingly outgrown its often brutal and unquestionably racist roots, beginning with the entry of players of color in the 1940s. It has seen the iron fist of Vince Lombardi, demanding in Green Bay that he not have a single member of his teams that bore racist, cultural or religious prejudice. Lombardi was an icon in many ways that most casual fans of the sport will never hear or read of.
Bill Walsh once had a player’s locker packed in the box delivered to his front door for simply implying that the details of his contract were based in racial discrimination by Walsh. Walsh was right - the player was playing a race card that in this case did not exist.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Peyton Manning has his first bit of AFC West bulletin board material thanks to Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers, who says:
We’ve got the mindset we’re going to win the AFC West. Peyton Manning, he’s a quarterback that everyone wants to have. He’s not going to turn the ball over, he’s not going to make critical mistakes.
But I’m going out there saying if my man can’t get open, he won’t have no one to throw the ball to. So as long as I do my part, we’re not too worried about Peyton Manning.
Okay, so it's the mildest of trash talk, but it's May. And, it's really more likely directed at Demaryius Thomas than at PMFM, who is 5-1 in his career against the Chiefs (albeit with a sub-Manning QB rating of 88.1). Thomas, meanwhile, has only six catches (three in 2010, three in 2011) in three career games against KC, for just 85 yards and zero touchdowns.
Then again, Denver's 2011 quarterback managed just eight completions in 30 attempts last year against the Chiefs, so it's easy to understand why Flowers is so confident. Won't be so easy in 2012, though, Brandon.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! The bro-fest continues with the reunion of J-Cutty and Jeremy Bates in Chicago. These two guys are so smitten with themselves and each other that they're actually starting to look alike.
Dan Pompei wrote a big fluff piece on the two for the Sun-Times on Sunday, replete with plenty of bro-love and mythicizing of Cutler's 2008 season. You all remember that grand year, yeah?
'Twas the greatest season in the history of offensive football. (Finishing 2nd in yards and 16th in points that year qualifies, right?)
You know, the one where they scored 114 in their first three games before averaging under 20 points for the next 13, and blew a three-game lead in the AFC West with three games left to play. You know, when Jay threw 18 picks including several in the end zone, and had the lowest TD% of his career?
Well, apparently it was a magical season for these two bros, and they're all giddy about reproducing that greatness this year in Chicago. At least John Mullin knows the truth, and isn't perpetuating the 2008 myth or participating in the fluffery.
* Not really
Broncos defensive line coach Wayne Nunnely announced his retirement today after 36 years of coaching. Jay Rodgers, who served as a defensive quality control coach last season, has been promoted to replace Nunnely.
Nunnely worked at the college level for 18 years before coaching the D-lines of the Saints for two years (1995-96), the Chargers for twelve years (1997-2008), and the Broncos for the past three (photos).
The 35-year-old Rodgers is entering his fourth year with the Broncos and is the younger brother of special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers, who begins his second year in that position for Denver.
Duke Ihenacho has gotten plenty of pre-camp media attention, more than most college free agents that I can recall offhand. Rob Rang, Pat Kirwan and Doug Farrar all named the ex-San Jose State Spartan among their top undrafted rookies. The safety, who will wear
#38 #39 for the Broncos, played 47 games for SJSU and finished with 268 tackles (15 for loss), seven interceptions, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and three defensive scores.
Head coach John Fox and new DC Jack Del Rio both talk about aggression; they both prefer to dictate to the offense, rather than utilize a read-and-react style. I’m glad about that. Del Rio was well known for that quality as a linebacker, and he’s also sincere to the point of a religious belief about it as a coach - Elvis Dumervil describes him as having a “fiery side.” That’s a well-crafted understatement from Doom, who knows a thing or two about focused aggression. I expect, from the draft and from the form of the team right now, to see a lot of very aggressive, attacking play from their front 7. Ihenacho seems like the kind of player who might find a niche with Del Rio fairly quickly.
One reason is that while Duke’s not a man cover burner, he’s a player with a lot of different uses. He’s not the kind of guy you leave out by himself on an island, but he is the type who likes to blow up defenses and defenders, to cause and jump on fumbles, grab interceptions, and even blitz the quarterback. He’s fearless when hitting and tackling, is solid in run support, and with the Broncos’ emphasis on getting to the QB as part of protecting the defensive backfield, Ihenacho has the size, power, and aggressive nature that could become a successful part of that.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! John Fox (video) spoke after the third and final day (photos) of Denver's rookie minicamp. Echoing the words of Jack Del Rio from a day earlier, Fox says the signing of CB Drayton Florence is a matter of never having enough cornerbacks.
For anyone who doesn't believe that one, drudge up some memories of Jonathan Wilhite, Nate Jones, and Josh Bell, why don't you?
Florence's fellow corner Omar Bolden made it through the weekend with no knee issues, and without a brace. As Fox and Andrew Mason remind us, the elite QBs on Denver's 2012 docket will likely test Denver's newfound depth in the backfield.
Bolden is one of three recent Sun Devils on the team (along with QB Brock Osweiler and undrafted WR Gerell Robinson) and says the familiar faces are aiding his transition to the pros, as is the presence of veteran corners Champ Bailey, Drayton Florence, and Tracy Porter. He says the knee injury which cost him his fifth and final year of college eligibility did not keep him from attending every meeting, practice, and road game.
Osweiler, meanwhile, says he and Robinson have been working out together in Phoenix ever since last month's draft.
McCoy continues to say the Broncos' offensive playbook will be an amalgam of strategies he's grown fond of and what Peyton Manning thrived with in Indy, and not simply a carbon copy of the Colts' playbook. The third-year OC acknowledges that (of course) tight ends will play a much larger role a season after the group tallied just 30 catches (47 targets), and he says Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas are giddy at the chance to play with PMFM. Oh, and the zone-read is thankfully gone.
Del Rio has plenty of praise for Mike backer Joe Mays and says he intends for his defense to help Mays improve by shrinking the gaps he's responsible for covering.
The new DC says he hasn't seen Ty Warren of late, and there's apparently good reason: the defensive tackle is apparently struggling with accepting a significant pay cut the Broncos have demanded. But frankly, Warren had best get used to the idea, because no NFL team is going to pay millions to a 31-year-old 300-pounder who has missed the past two seasons with injury. It's just not happening.
His fellow DT Kevin Vickerson has accepted a pay slice from $2.25M to $1.2M, and eventually Warren will have to do the same.