The Daily Lard 7-1-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Jarrett Bell of USAT writes about the Broncos and the five biggest questions he deems they're facing this season, starting with whether John Elway will succeed as a front-office exec and if Tim Tebow can wrest the starting QB job from Kyle Orton. He figures the presence of John Fox means that hopefully the constant turnover at the DC position will finally come to an end, although Bell thinks the Broncos' selection of Von Miller over Marcell Dareus (of course, who knows if Dareus was even their second choice?) will be a hot debate topic going forward.

Bell concludes by wondering if Brian Dawkins has enough to contribute in his 16th season (and is it worth $6 million?) and if the Broncos can finally restore their home-field advantage. That last one should be filed under the "moot points" category, as good teams always have good records at home, while mediocre and poor teams (like Denver has been for the past five years) do not. They just have to become a better team, period. The rest (winning at home, beating division rivals and lesser teams, etc.) result from that...not vice versa.

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Labor talks reportedly take turn for worse

According to Chris Mortensen and Mike Freeman, the CBA talks have regressed as the owners have apparently gone back to "playing games" by reneging on the reported agreement to give the players a flat 48% of all revenue. Reportedly, the owners have gone back to requesting an expense credit off the top amounting to between $400 million and $500 million which would knock the players' cut down to around 45%. Meanwhile, Albert Breer is tweeting that the negotiations are continuing at this hour in Minneapolis:

I've heard the cries for weeks now -- "Why aren't they locked in a building, 'round the clock?" Looks like people are getting their wish...Big shots arrived at around 9 am CT. All hell broke loose in the 4 o'clock hour with doom and gloom. Almost 9 pm now. They're still meeting...We're past 10 CT ... And they're still meeting. Entering Hour No. 14 of this day's negotiations.

Mike Florio's reaction is that it's about time the two sides burn the midnight oil in pursuit of an agreement, and that perhaps it's time for Judge Doty and the Eighth Circuit judges to issue their rulings and push things along. Finally, Judy Battista is hearing that the two sides are still close enough that a deal could be reached within 72 hours, although a settlement is more likely to stretch another week and a half, if not more.

Tweets of the Week: Planking memes and smelly kicks

Britt Davis is a bit irked by the whole planking phenomenon, and he apparently got flamed for sharing that opinion...

I can MAYBE understand young kids doing this "Planking" not knowing history but all you so called grown ups should be ahsamed...And someone already died from doing that please #DoBetter Society...this is embarrassing for all people not just black people...“@iamjennashea: shutup and #plank! @only1BDavis7” lol off twitter for the day let me know when it's safe to come back plankfree

Hmm. It sounds like Davis and Lance Ball got some incorrect info on the provenance of planking, which according to most related articles online is attributed to some folks in Australia who started the "Lying Down Game" only a few years ago...

What source you get this from ?!?! RT @Spoony29: I repeat : #Planking is a racist term used for stacking slaves in slave ships...Ok since my homie @Spoony29 schooled me on #planking >>>everybody need to chill out with it. Depicts a terrible time in black history!!!

Sure would be interesting to hear Davis, Ball and Brandon Minor discuss the merits of planking:

hey @BarackObama i think its bout time you plank bruh

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The Daily Lard 6-30-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In Woody's latest mailbag, he shares some good insight on the Denver coaching staff, as John Fox retained 11 of Josh McDaniels' assistants, mostly on the offensive side. Paige writes that there was a divide among the staff last year, with defensive assistants comprising what he calls the "anti-McDaniels faction," most or all of whom have moved on. He also points out that Fox quite interestingly kept on Mark Thewes, McDaniels' best friend and assistant, citing the job Thewes did of insulating and protecting McDaniels as his situation in Denver worsened.

Woody figures that if Tim Tebow is the starting QB, we can expect to see more plays that utilize his ability to get out of the pocket, and he theorizes that Knowshon Moreno will at best either split carries or become more of a third-down type back. He also floats the idea of re-signing Daniel Graham, but that seems unlikely considering his advanced age and the diverse talent and youth already on the roster at that position. Woody expects little meddling from Fox on offense, not because it's Fox's way (it is) but because he'll need to focus on helping Dennis Allen in his first year as DC.

Woody says not to expect Justin Bannan back, and that he's likely headed eastward. Finally, he says that the only way Kyle Orton ends up starting at QB is if the labor talks go much later than expected, resulting in an abridged training camp.

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Favorite undrafted free agents

The draft is long over, not much else is happening and while we’re waiting on the owners and players to figure out how to split up their money, I thought that I’d toss out something different. In the past, there were as many as thirty rounds to the NFL draft, and with a lot less teams, too. To compensate for the missing rounds each year - except for this one, so far - there’s a run on college free agents, or as they’re sometimes called, undrafted free agents, right after the draft. Some of them will be cut in training camp, and many will be taken on as training camp bodies with a slim chance of catching on with someone. Some will go to the Canadian Football League, or the WFL or Arena League, or whatever incarnation of non-NFL football is going on at the time. A few will get a special teams berth, and of all of those, a very few will become starters and even stars.

It’s rare, but it does happen - in fact, if you look at the rosters of the Packers and Steelers, you can see that a few of them influenced the outcome of the last Super Bowl. Let's take a look at a few undrafted players who may end up at Dove Valley once the league year begins.

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The Daily Lard 6-29-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As he profiles Julius Thomas and his transition to the NFL, Klis changed his mind sometime yesterday and realized that no, the Broncos probably won't be signing any veteran tight ends in free agency. Meanwhile, Thomas has been staying with Brady Quinn and was apparently the first of Denver's nine picks to join the veteran workouts yesterday when he caught passes from Quinn.

Klis also helps us clarify the rookies/playbooks mystery: Thomas and the rest of the second-day draftees apparently don't have them, while the first-day picks do. But really, how does that make any sense at all? It can't be that the relationship between fellow draftees or between veterans and rookies is so cutthroat that they don't want to help each other out, right? It would presumably take just one player with a playbook and some initiative to head over to a Staples or Kinko's and have some copies made for his mates. Perhaps NFL playbooks now self-destruct when they're placed on a copy machine? Come on guys, it's been two months...

Note 10:50AM ET - As Ted pointed out to me, there is paper out there that prevents scans and copies, and it stands to reason that NFL teams would utilize this technology when printing their playbooks. So, that would explain things and render my rant moot...

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Smith, Goodell met today sans players, owners

The NFL's labor talks recommenced today in Minnesota and are scheduled to last four days, in what would be the longest negotiating session to date. These meetings are reportedly being conducted solely by Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith and their respective legal teams, without the presence of players and owners. The two sides are reportedly focusing now on the potential rookie wage scale and how to ensure that the money previously spent on draft choices would be reallocated to the benefit of veteran players. Meanwhile, Chris Mortensen is reporting that the players and owners involved in the previous talks may rejoin these sessions later in the week, and that player reps would participate in a conference call today to be updated on the negotiations.

Implications of a cash basis salary cap

Happy Tuesday, friends.  I’m encouraged by the latest progress that’s been reported on the NFL’s labor negotiations, and I decided that I would re-engage on the topic today, for the first time in awhile.  A particular reported topic in the impending deal has actually inspired me to break my recent silence.

It’s been reported in a lot of places that a salary cap will likely return, and also that the distance between the salary floor (which has always existed since 1993), and the salary cap will diminish.  That’s interesting, and it’s a victory for the players, by virtue of guaranteeing that more money will be injected into the overall operating environment.  In 2009, the salary cap was $128 million, and the floor was 87.6% of that number, or $112.1 million.  If the 2011 cap number is about the same, which is likely, but the floor is 93%, that’s theoretically an extra $224 million that has to be spent league-wide on player salaries.  (I say theoretically, because the reality is that many teams are way over the floor annually, and the increase doesn’t affect their spending.)

Even if that $224 million is more like $75 million, which is likely, we’re actually dealing with something there called a cap number.  Many of you know what that means, but for those who don’t, a cap number is an artificial measure of salary expense within a given period, which is generally comprised of a base salary, a prorated portion of a signing bonus, and incentive payments which are earned, or deemed likely to be earned.  That sounded complicated to read, I know, so an illustration is in order.

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The Daily Lard 6-28-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Klis looks at the veteran running backs expected to be available in free agency, and thankfully doesn't list DeAngelo Williams as the best fit for Denver. Much more sensibly, Klis thinks Oakland's Michael Bush would be an ideal fit, and Bush certainly does more closely resemble the "Fox likes bigger RBs" meme, as the 27-year old has six inches and over thirty pounds on Williams. More importantly, Bush is likely to command much less in the way of guaranteed money.

Puzzingly, Klis is sticking with the "Denver needs to sign a pass-catching TE" line of thought even after the Broncos added Julius Thomas and Virgil Green via the draft to the incumbent group of Richard Quinn, Dan Gronkowski and Daniel Coats. Unless keeping five TEs on the roster is an option (how could it be?) it's quite hard to believe the Broncos would want to give another TE any amount of guaranteed money. Figure that Coats is a very likely cut, and three or four of the remaining players would make the final roster.

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Broncography: Joe Mays

Joe Mays comes from a city that knows a little bit about middle linebackers.

Joseph Lamont Mays was born on July 6, 1985 in Chicago to Renice Mays and Charles Williams, the city that brought the NFL Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher. Joe attended the Hyde Park Career Academy in Chicago where he began to play football his junior year. Although he’d grown up wanting to be Michael Jordan, it didn’t take him long to realize that he just didn’t have the body type for the NBA game. When asked why he made the move from basketball to football at that time, Mays replied,

I'd say the fact that you could hit somebody and not get in trouble for it -- just letting out some frustration. At that time, I had a little bit of frustration with everything that was going on in my life. Once I got to football, I kind of embraced it and enjoyed it. Then I started to love it and wanted to continue to do it.

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