Top 10 signs you are ready for the NFL lockout to end

Drew Brees says the lockout will be over soon.

Since you can always trust a guy from New Orleans to give you a calm and reasonable assessment of any situation, I'd say Brees is on to something.

We're about to get NFL football again.

I'm ready to stop fantasizing about Hope Solo; Tim Tebow is ready to stop wearing purple; Roger Goodell is ready to begin fining James Harrison for theoretically not peeing on him while being (theoretically) on fire.

The signs are there.  Here are ten for you:

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The Daily Lard 7-16-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Albert Breer writes that an agreement on a new CBA is expected to be reached early next week, while lawyers for the two sides will continue meeting over the weekend. The most significant progress of yesterday's talks was that the owners altogether dropped their demand to have rights of first refusal on a number of their own free agents, and the two sides apparently agreed upon offseason programs and player safety issues. Plus, it is expected that players will receive their full offseason workout bonuses as was previously contracted.

Remaining items include retiree benefits, drug testing, and settling the Brady suit and TV rights case, although these are not seen as potential stumbling blocks. According to Breer, the players have ceded the right to renegotiate contracts until after their third season in the league - Andrew Brandt writes that undrafted players had been able to renegotiate following their second season. Also, the fifth-year options for first-rounders mentioned yesterday will be based upon salaries during the third year of a contract; in other words, Denver's 2015 option on Von Miller will require the Broncos to guarantee him the average salary of the NFL's top 10 linebackers as paid during the 2013 season.

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Revelation of NFLPA’s lockout insurance may have forced concessions from owners

Apparently De Smith isn't the thoughtless/reckless goon he was made out to be a month or two ago. As Jim Trotter writes for SI,

slightly more than a year ago he received approval from the executive committee to secure insurance that would pay each player roughly $200,000 if there were no football in 2011

Trotter goes on to say that "only a handful" of people outside of the NFLPA's executive committee knew about the lockout insurance, and when talks appeared at a standstill on Wednesday old friend Domonique Foxworth dropped the proverbial bomb on ownership. Mike Freeman openly wondered this morning what had taken place to spur so much progress on Thursday, and now we know. (Thanks, Chibronx)

You Got Served: Impending CBA edition

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.

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The Daily Lard 7-15-11

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.

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Agreement on rookie wage scale and 2011 salary cap reportedly reached

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

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Thomas denies allegations he received improper benefits at GT

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.

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Tweets of the Week - Farting and sneezing simultaneously; the end of Von on Twitter?

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...

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The Daily Lard 7-14-11

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.

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Broncography: Mike Mohamed

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.

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