Good Morning, Broncos fans! Although they were prepared to spend as much as two days ironing out their differences, the NFL's owners spent only five hours yesterday discussing the general framework of the next CBA. Having reached what Jeff Pash characterized as a "consensus within the ownership," the negotiations between the players and the league will reconvene today in a Boston suburb. And while Albert Breer writes that yesterday's meeting was more about general concepts than specific details, and both parties are maintaining the "there's a long way to go" mantra, the brevity of the powwow points to real progress being made.
Meanwhile, Jason Cole reports that the new league year could begin as soon as July 15, with veteran free agency and rookie OTAs first on the docket. Beyond agreeing to a new deal, Cole writes that the two sides would then need to settle the class-action suits filed in concert by active and retired players, followed by recertification of the NFLPA, and finally ratification of the CBA by ownership.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter are reporting that the basis of the next CBA as is presently being negotiated will be a 48% payout of all revenue for the players. This would omit the $1 billion-plus in expense credits that had come off the top before the players got their cut in the previous CBA, and also disinclude the extra $1 billion "haircut" NFL owners had sought earlier on. Apparently, owners will be able to claim expense credits to help pay for new stadiums, but the players' cut would never fall below 46.5 percent of revenue in those instances.
The new deal will reportedly include a new rookie pay scale, but the details of that are still being worked out. Plus, teams will be required to spend to at least 90-93% of the salary cap each year - a stipulation which surely will alarm the smaller market teams like the Bills and Bengals as mentioned in Ted's article earlier today. Among other details, players would reach unrestricted free agency after four seasons and would never be forced to play an 18-game schedule.
UPDATE 7:50PM ET - LJ has an update on the status of the Broncos' potential free agents, and it looks like I erred on Prater and Woodyard - according to LJ, those two players would remain restricted free agents, while Harris and Thomas would be unrestricted. After looking again at each player's profile, I believe Jones' information to be correct and my earlier update to be wrong. Sorry for the confusion, folks.
I have absolutely no sympathy for Ralph Wilson or Mike Brown as the rumors fly that they don’t appreciate the direction that the Brady vs. NFL settlement talks have been taking in putting together a new CBA. Neither man is a quality NFL owner or shows the slightest desire or ability to make his team a consistent winner.
Wilson, who is 92 years old, seems to be playing out the string of his life. He pays lip service to wanting to keep the Bills in Buffalo, but he clearly recognizes that the viability of western New York as an NFL home continues to diminish as its historically blue collar labor environment is marginalized, and the population resultingly diminishes. Buffalo is the worst market in the NFL, and when the team is sold upon Wilson’s death, I’m pretty sure the new owner will be looking to Toronto or Los Angeles.
As for Brown, he’s the son of Paul Brown, who founded the Bengals back when you didn’t have to really be all that wealthy to start an NFL team. Paul was a successful coach of the Browns for many years, and it sure helped to have Hall of Famers like Otto Graham, Marion Motley, Lou Groza, and Jim Brown. Upon founding the Bengals, the Brown magic never returned. Mike Brown is not the football man his father was, and he's also the cheapest owner in the NFL. He hires the assistant coaches - with the Head Coach having little to no say in the matter - and pays them the lowest salaries in the NFL for their peer groups. He also has always maintained the smallest scouting staff in the NFL, and the senior front office people are a bunch of Browns and Blackburns. They’re the only mom and pop team in the NFL, and that’s the biggest reason that they can never establish a consistent winning program.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Some details have finally come out on Jason Hunter's stabbing in April. Apparently, his girlfriend found a bag of cellphones which Hunter claimed belonged to a friend of his, and in the course of their "conversation" she waved a kitchen knife at him before "accidentally" throwing it at Hunter. So, why is Hunter holding a collection of cellphones for his buddy, and why did his girlfriend need to have a knife in hand when she told him to "stay back"? So far, no charges have been filed against the girlfriend, but prosecutors are apparently studying evidence.
Last week, Yahoo's Jason Cole covered an aspect of the lockout that most people haven’t gotten to yet - the issue of the players' health once the lockout ends. The subject matter hasn’t gotten a lot of press so far, but I have spoken with other docs and healthcare providers since early last year about this same issue. The concern revolves around what will happen when a lot of players - veterans and rookies alike - hit the field after an extended layoff. Relatively few of them will be in ‘football shape’. Many won’t even be in shape to get into shape, as it were.
Brett Fischer, the founder of Fischer Sports in Phoenix said, “There’s no light at the end of the tunnel to those guys.”
There actually is a light; the problem is, it appears to be an oncoming train. Probably for the majority of the players, muscle pulls, tears and other soft tissue damage (like torn ligaments and tendons) are going to happen quite a bit more than usual. As far as the rookies go, there's not that much similarity between conditioning on the college and NFL levels, and concerns about this aspect of the issue go back to last season, where a lot of folks on the doc and trainer side saw this one coming.
Hopefully Mike Freeman knows what he's talking about. The bearer of much of the recent positive news surrounding the labor talks has polled his league contacts and found that there are only four owners likely to vote against the new CBA as is being negotiated: Buffalo's Ralph Wilson, Cincy's Mike Brown, Dallas' Jerry Jones and Washington's Daniel Snyder. Naturally, Al Davis falls under the who knows? designation, while Wayne Weaver in Jacksonville is an unknown quantity at this point, as far as Freeman's sources go. A coalition of nine owners would be required to nix any deal, as 24 of 32 votes are necessary for passage; so if Freeman's contacts are correct then things are indeed looking good.
Notice that Freeman writes, "this is how some in football think," rather than the arrogant "most people in the NFL" or "most NFL evaluators" sort of garbage we Broncos fans have been passionately served in recent years...
Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest MMQB column, Peter King writes that tomorrow's ownership meeting will not feature any voting, but rather just discussions on the framework of a potential new CBA. PK figures the owners who haven't been present during the most recent negotiations still have a good idea of where the talks have headed and won't mount enough of a fight to truly set back the talks with the players.
Meanwhile, PK thinks Tiki Barber will end up with the Steelers, and that Nnamdi Asomugha is most likely to land in Philly, Dallas or Baltimore, in that order, although he also makes the case that Kubes and the Texans should try to sign the CB.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Jason Cole says to expect that this week's ownership meetings are going to mark a crucial point in the labor talks, as owners need to find a common ground among themselves before they can reach a deal with the players. Cole writes that the owners taking charge in the recent negotiations have been the more moderate ones, including Clark Hunt of the Chiefs and Dean Spanos of the Chargers, and that Jerry Richardson and Robert Kraft have softened from earlier hawkish stances.
Interestingly, Cole reports that many NFL owners do not know the framework of the deal as is being currently negotiated, due to Judge Boylan's order that the subject of the talks be kept as confidential as possible. Tuesday in Chicago is when the owners' meetings begin, so the hope is that there's not enough dissention there to hold up the deal. Cole writes that the outcome of those meetings could determine the future of Roger Goodell, whose power and relevance has come into question in recent months.
I long ago lost my faith in the quality of Bon Jovi's work.
Yet I can't recall the exact game I stopped believing in NFL statistics. Perhaps it's best if I tell you when I began to lose my faith.
It was last year's game when the Broncos were pulverized (yet again) by the Baltimore Ravens. You probably remember the statistical headlines from the game. Kyle Orton threw for over 300 yards and Brandon Lloyd went for more than 100 yards receiving. I had already posted my Gut Reaction to the game, which like all Gut Reactions, are usually posted within fifteen minutes of a game's finish. It was well-written, yet there was something that still haunted me.
So I hit the game tape over and over again. It didn't take more than a few series to see the horror that was Haloti Ngata.
Ngata was dominant that day, even though he finished with only three tackles. Play after play he dominated the Broncos' offensive line. Ngata got gap penetration; he used the same swim move what seemed like half a dozen times (which I promptly taught to a pee-wee football team the following week); he pushed the line back into the backfield two or three yards; he was a nightmare that, to this day, probably causes Ryan Harris to wake at night in cold sweats.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Brandon Lloyd spoke to the guys on The Drive the other day, and he had the following to say about working out with Tim Tebow down in Florida:
I thought it was good. It’s better for morale going into the season when you see how good of shape guys are in. It’s kind of like, I want to see where dude’s at with his training and guys want to see where we’re at so we have some confidence going into the season. That’s how I took it. It was good to see that Tim’s improving on his drops, he’s improving on his timing, and within the first day we got into rhythm, within the first 20 minutes of it.