Judge David Doty has tonight dealt a serious blow to NFL owners in their negotiations with the players over a new collective bargaining agreement. Doty ruled that the financial protection the owners had built into their most recent television contracts did not align with their stated desire to avoid a player lockout. In the event of a lockout, the networks which broadcast NFL games had agreed to still pay the owners $4 billion, although much of it would have been offset in future seasons. Doty's statement reads, in part:
The court overrules the special master's findings as to the NFL's breach of the (Collective Bargaining Agreement) relating to its contracts with DirecTV, CBS, FOX, NBC, and ESPN, and holds that the NFL breached the (CBA) as to those contracts.
Several weeks ago, my colleague Ted Bartlett looked at what the Broncos might be doing this year as they try to incorporate Dennis Allen's aggressive style of defense into John Fox's generally non-aggressive 4-3, where pressure is generated primarily by the front four defenders. If you haven't had a chance to read that piece, I would suggest taking another look.
Fox says he gives his coordinators free rein, so it's more than likely that Allen will bring at least some of the aggressive 46 to Denver. As current Saints coach Sean Payton said just the other day about Allen in the Denver Post:
"He'll be aggressive, blitz. Emphasis on the takeaway. He's very bright, a great staff guy. He was very instrumental in the success we've had."
This quote should fill the hearts of every Broncos fan with glee. That's because the system the Saints use isn't just talk. It's probably the most aggressive system in the entire league.
How does this aggression translate to the field? This offseason, we'll take a look using actual plays from the Saints (and sometimes the Panthers if needed) to demonstrate what Allen will likely bring to the table. Today, let's examine the overload blitz.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Clinton Portis was released by Shanny and the Skins yesterday after seven seasons in Washington.
While CP was only a Bronco for two seasons, he remains one of my all-time favorites - drafted 51st overall in 2002, Portis was a faster (albeit not quite as durable) version of Terrell Davis who incredibly racked up 1,872 yards from scrimmage and 17 TDs as a rookie despite not becoming the team's primary ballcarrier until Week 5.
He backed that performance up in his sophomore season with 1,905 yards and 14 TDs despite missing three games due to injury, but then Shanny dealt him to DC for Champ and a second-rounder (Tatum Bell) - it was a deal of two superstars who wanted more money, and one of the most significant player-for-player trades in NFL history. In his brief Denver career, Portis posted a remarkable 5.5 yards per attempt and 106.9 per game, with 29 rushing touchdowns on 563 carries.
Back in 2008 at about this same time of the year, with both the Combine and the draft upcoming, I found myself looking back through the history of the NFL to try and learn exactly how each of those two essential processes had begun. I quickly found that there was a vast wealth of information available on the subject, and starting collecting books that referenced them, articles that covered their past as well as the present, and I also started questioning people who I knew were familiar with those subjects. The history of the draft is interwoven into the NFL, which was the first league to hold a reverse-order draft for its teams. Last Monday, we examined the league's formative decades -the 1920s and '30s; today we'll take a look at the monumental developments that followed in the 1940s. I hope you'll enjoy it.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Legwold slipped an interesting little nugget into one of his columns today - he mentioned that Denver would likely release some veterans who are due roster bonuses this week. Of course, he didn't bother to do any research regarding who the prime candidates may be. So, who may be on the chopping block? Justin Bannan is due a $500,000 bonus and will make $3.5 million each of the next two seasons. Let's call him an unlikely cut, but a possibility depending upon the Broncos' draft plan. Not only does Kyle Orton have a $1.5 million roster bonus coming his way, but he's also guaranteed almost $2.9 million of his 2011 salary. Can't see it as being within the realm of possibility, but it sure would be fascinating to see/hear the reaction to a release of Orton after last week.
There is one veteran, however, who sounds like a prime candidate to be cut - TE Daniel Graham. He's set to earn a $1 million roster bonus and a salary of $4.2 million, and although he's still an excellent blocker, he did seem to have a bit more of the dropsies in 2010. Perhaps that was just magnified due to a lack of targets? Either way, $5.2 million for one season of play out of a 32-year-old Graham (he'll turn 33 in November) with no team control beyond this season seems expensive. If so, and Graham is cut, then perhaps Legwold was correct last week in speculating that Denver needs to draft a TE - he just completely whiffed on the reasoning. However, it deserves mention that his colleague Klis did point to Graham's salary as a looming issue early last month. Hopefully he's amenable to a pay cut and will stick around...
Good Morning, Broncos fans! I'm not sure I've linked to Adam Schein and his waxed-but-still-hideous eyebrows since we started IAOFM, but he wrote something so ridiculous (granted, this is his specialty) yesterday that it's gotta be mentioned. After having spoken to John Elway and Brain Xanders in recent weeks, Schein writes that he "(doesn't) think (Tim) Tebow has much of a future in Denver." Frankly, it's not even worth breaking down Schein's thought process.
Why such negative feelings toward Schein? Well, aside from his horrific writing, he happens to co-host a show called "Loud Mouths" (go figure) on the Mets' TV station. Although I would never choose to watch the show (really, all they do is endeavor to live up to the show's title), the constant commercials when watching the Mets or Big East hoops are unavoidable. And sometimes while watching whatever is next on the programming schedule, I stumble into seeing the last minute or two of Schein yelling at either the camera or his co-host. It's torture, truly.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! John Elway and Brain Xanders spoke to reporters at the Combine yesterday; Elway describing his first experiences with interviewing players and what he's looking for out of their game tapes. He basically said he wants defenders he would have had to have accounted for while lining up behind center, and also talked of John Fox helping seal the deal with Champ Bailey. Xanders had some real gems:
Now that Champ Bailey signed his new contract, I have to hand it to the Broncos' front office.
They can now check off point 1A on their offseason to-do list.
I'd like to give specific praise to Brian "The Body" Xanders for getting this deal done. Whatever we think here of Xanders' verbal acumen, he's accounted himself well on this deal. I'll put off waterboarding Xanders for another time.
From Champ's point of view, you might be thinking to yourself, Champ signed with the Broncos because he really believes he can win a championship in Denver.
Not so fast, Boy Wonder. I've got the real reasons, just after the jump...
Happy Friday, Broncos fans! If ever there were proof that context is everything when it comes to quotes, yesterday was it. When asked (on February 24th) who the Broncos' starting quarterback is, John Fox launched directly into saying that there will be an open competition for the job. I mean, there was no hesitation or fumbling around - Fox said flat out that it's a free-for-all, and then tossed in that at this very moment in time, Kyle Orton's the guy. So what happens next? Why of course, every football site on the interweb says that Fox named Kyle Orton the Broncos' starting quarterback or that Tim Tebow is not the Broncos' starting quarterback. Oh, brother.
First of all, we knew Fox would say this. Elway said it, Fox now said it, and surely Brain Xanders will be next. Of course, once Tebow is named the starter in a few months, Xanders will say that he never believed Orton was the guy, and that Elway just told him what to say. Secondly, Fox later went out of his way to define "now now," sort of like this.
Mediator George Cohen released a statement today regarding the labor negotiations between the NFL and the players' union, which will resume next Tuesday:
I can report that throughout this extensive period the parties engaged in highly focused, constructive dialogue concerning a host of issues covering both economics and player-related conditions...At bottom, some progress was made, but very strong differences remain on the all-important core issues that separate the parties...During the intervening weekend, the parties have been asked by us to assess their current positions on those outstanding issues.