Good Morning, Broncos fans! That was quite a busy night, and I won't recap everything here that we already covered a few hours ago - if you missed any of the signings or TJ's late-night UDFA Edition Gut Reactions, just head back to the earlier entries. The biggest news of the morning, if not a surprise, is Mike Klis' report that the Broncos are in fact putting Kyle Orton on the trading block. However, Klis also interestingly writes that if the FO doesn't find an offer to its liking, he thinks Orton will remain the starter in Denver.
Worth repeating here for clarity's sake, Brandon Browning was originally reported as having agreed to terms with the Broncos, but it appears he has ended up with the Rams. Plus, as IAOFM reader Snaggins astutely pointed out, "dead money" from contracts terminated before March 11, 2011 will not count against the salary cap in 2011. I will have more thoughts on this development later on, but this has major implications for the Broncos and puts the release of Justin Bannan in a new perspective.
Note: Bellore is apparently headed to the Jets instead of Denver
(Note: Browning was originally reported as agreeing with Denver, but ultimately he chose to join the St. Louis Rams)
To find a future star in the NFL among undrafted rookie free agents, you could do a lot worse than looking for three things:
3) A brother with speed, who was also Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2008.
Deron Mayo may be undersized for the NFL. He's listed at 5-11 and 220 pounds. That's why teams shied away from him in the draft. However, like his famous brother, he brings quickness and speed. Deron is actually faster than his older brother, and runs (by some accounts) a sub-4.4 forty-yard dash. He's a tweener DE/OLB, who many thought would have been a good fit as a 3-4 OLB after adding a few pounds. In fact, he had this to say recently:
People like (Denver’s) Elvis Dumervil and (Pittsburgh’s) James Harrison definitely give me hope. I’m 5-11. I look at people like that and it gives me a lot of motivation. It’s all about learning the game. I feel like I can rush the passer from the edge. It’s just a matter of a coach or a team taking a chance on me, which I know will pay off.
John Fox likes versatility in his running back combinations.
Enter Mario Fannin.
Fannin was Auburn's third-string running back last year. Despite this, he was projected by some to be drafted as high as the 5th round in this year's draft.
Why? Fannin set the building on fire at the combine with a 4.37 40-yard dash and a 37.5-inch vertical jump. Those are numbers that Knowshon Moreno would have killed for at his combine.
Fannin left little doubt that he's a world-class athlete by those measures. He's also a master of catching the ball out of the backfield and has a knack for the YAC (yards after catch).
If Fannin makes the Broncos' roster, it won't be because of his running ability. His field vision after getting the handoff has always been his weakest attribute. It will be because Denver needs a weapon on 3rd-down-and-medium.
10:42am ET Tuesday - According to @NFLDraftInsider, the Broncos have agreed to terms with undrafted rookies RB Mario Fannin from Auburn, FB Patrick Hill from Miami, WR Mark Dell from Michigan State,
G Bryant Browning from Ohio State Browning has instead agreed to join the Rams, LB Nick Bellore of Central Michigan Bellore is going to the Jets, and DE Deron Mayo from Old Dominion, younger brother of Pats LB Jerod. According to @NEPatriotsDraft Denver has also signed WR Marshall Williams from Wake Forest, TE Justin Jones from Toledo, CB James Rogers from Michigan, and DT Colby Whitlock of Texas Tech. Rutgers CB Brandon Bing says he's also agreed to join the Broncos; so does Kansas DB Chris Harris. According to @Ethanhamm, Denver has also added OT Curt Porter out of Jacksonville State. (note: click player names for NFL.com and NFLDraftScout.com profiles)
The Denver Broncos have made no bones about it - obtaining a running back on the open market is Priority 1 at Dove Valley. There’s no shortage of them out there, either; I winnowed this list down from the names that I kept finding. Keep in mind that Denver wants someone who can complement the play of Knowshon Moreno. Moreno has produced over 1,000 yards from scrimmage in each of his two seasons, despite playing behind offensive lines that have frequently been porous at best. Moreno isn’t an every-down, 25-carries-a-game back - his list of injuries, while rarely keeping him out of games, has been a constant drain on his production. Correll Buckhalter has been an excellent investment, and despite his own injury issues, has been a steady producer for Denver, able to find the small holes that the line can create and burst through them more quickly than Knowshon - I think that Buck's vision of the LOS is better: he makes his decisions quickly and doesn’t hesitate or dance in the backfield, which Moreno was more prone to, especially during his freshman year. He’s improved.
9:14pm ET - According to John Clayton, teams have been granted the right to
sign negotiate but not sign undrafted rookies tonight. (Thanks, underdog)
9:10pm ET - The Baltimore Ravens have told RB Willis McGahee they intend to cut him, and Mike Klis says the Broncos figure to be a possible destination for the 29-year-old back who played for Broncos RB coach and former interim coach Eric Studesville for three years in Buffalo. McGahee has compiled 7,214 yards from scrimmage and 59 touchdowns in seven seasons and was due to make $6 million this season with the Ravens.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Expectations remain that the NFLPA's executive committee and 32 player reps will vote to approve the CBA, although a pair of emails from Drew Brees to his Saints teammates details a shorter and more chaotic timeline than was reported yesterday. According to Brees, free agency may begin on Tuesday at noon for all parties - meaning no exclusive negotiating period for teams to retain their own UFAs, and with both veterans and undrafted rookies able to sign contracts at that point. Brees also wrote that some teams may aim to open training camps by Thursday, with players reporting the day before to check in and possibly receive their physicals.
It being the weekend, I took some time today (Saturday) and went out for a ‘walk’. Just so you understand, around the house I can generally manage okay with just a cane. When I’m traveling, the wheelchair is a necessity - there are no other choices there. When I go outside to walk, it’s two canes, one on each side. We have the great good fortune now to live next to a beautiful, small but long park that spans two blocks, swaying down the middle of each, starting at the base of a hill to the north and leading vaguely southward to an opening that takes you down to a main street, that in return brings you to another pathway, if your legs are willing. Carlsbad, now my home, has gotten more than its usual share of rain this past year, for a change. The off-shore currents brought us a present - the beautiful rains, reloading the reservoirs and giving the flora a much-needed drink. As a result, the tropical plants are lush this year, all are currently in bloom and the air is so rich that you can taste it on your tongue, a rare tropical miasma that is as softly sweet as it is invigorating. Today is a good day for me, and I felt a need to reconnect with the beauty that’s just next door.