Jeff Legwold and Mike Klis have long maintained that Denver would be looking to upgrade at running back this offseason. According to Klis, one of the players the Broncos have targeted is Pittsburgh's Rashard Mendenhall, who made $1.8M in the final season of his rookie contract.
The 25-year-old back, who is listed at 225 lbs, managed just 244 yards on 60 touches, with three fumbles (!) in six games in 2012; he had suffered a torn ACL in the Steelers' 2011 regular season finale.
Mendenhall has reportedly also drawn interest from Arizona and Miami.
Unsurprisingly, the bloodletting of highly paid veterans is continuing today, first with Pittsburgh's release of former DPOY James Harrison. It remains to be seen which teams will be interested in signing Harrison; Ted had suggested Houston as a possibility, while Khaled Elsayed thinks Indy, Arizona, and Cleveland would be well-served to consider him.
WR Anquan Boldin, who had 22 catches and four touchdowns during Baltimore's postseason run, is likely the next big name to become available, as he has reportedly turned down the Ravens' request for a pay cut.
DE Elvis Dumervil appears likely to join that list, and the Broncos are said to be one of several teams scouring the DE market in advance of that decision.
In advance of Tuesday's deadline, the Broncos have tendered punter Britton Colquitt, running back Lance Ball, and tackle Chris Clark at the lowest possible restricted free agent level. Each will be paid $1.323M for 2013, provided they sign their tenders.
With the league calendar set to flip on Tuesday at 4pm ET, teams are required by that time to offer tenders to all restricted free agents they hope to keep; fullback Chris Gronkowski had been informed earlier that he would not be tendered, and will be an unrestricted free agent.
Tony Carter and Mitch Unrein, as players with fewer than three accrued seasons, had been classified as exclusive rights free agents, meaning they're stuck at Denver's mercy. The Broncos have tendered each at the $630K minimum.
A couple of weeks ago, we snickered at word that Dolphins backup QB Matt Moore was seeking a multiyear deal worth around $5M per season. Well, Moore's laughing all the way to the bank, as he's apparently about to get $8M over two years to stay in Miami.
Probably only half of that is guaranteed, but Moore still got what he wanted - a cushy salary to be a backup QB. Not bad at all. The deal is in line with what Kyle Orton got from Dallas last year (three years, $10.5M, $5M guaranteed).
According to Elvis Dumervil's agent Marty Magid, the defensive end is willing to rework his deal:
They informed us they want to do a restructure. I'm not classifying this as a pay cut. I'm going ahead with this being a restructure. If we can meet on some common ground, there's a potential we can get it done. If we can't, they'll have to make a decision. But we're definitely in good faith going to try to negotiate this out. Elvis wants to return as a Bronco if it all possible, and that's what we're trying to do — make the client happy and try to appease the team.
Translation: Denver's going to have to pony up a lot more guaranteed money for my client to accept a lower salary.
San Diego released 16th-year LB Takeo Spikes, who had been scheduled to make $3M in his third season with the Chargers.
Jeff Legwold wonders if D.J. Williams could end up following Mike McCoy to the Whale's Vagina to replace Spikes.
Incarcerated Bob says John Elway will pull out of the Darrelle Revis sweeps if LOLJets GM John Idzik doesn't make a decision soon. (h/t AldenBrown)
Vic Lombardi and Jason La Canfora report that the Broncos are looking to lower the $12M salary of DE Elvis Dumervil, and that if he's unwilling, the team may release him. Here's how La Canfora puts it:
Broncos like pass rusher Elvis Dumervil, but not at $12M/year. They are seeking a lower deal, and situation could end up with his release. Broncos paying Manning $20M/year, Bailey is around $10M, and Von Miller will be getting paid huge soon enough.
Albert Breer offers similar thoughts:
Denver is indeed looking for Elvis Dumervil to take a paycut. It's not his cap number ($13.6M) but his salary ($12M) that's the problem. So with Dumervil and Denver, this likely wouldn't be a restructure. He's simply making too much money relative to his production now. Remember, Denver's cap has been managed well. They'll have room to take care of guys like Decker, Thomas and Miller in coming years
According to Mike Klis, if the Broncos end up parting ways with Elvis Dumervil, former Colts DE Dwight Freeney could end up being his older, cheaper replacement. As Klis tells it, potentially cutting Dumervil would be more about conserving cash than cap space.
Meanwhile, Kansas City kept its busy week going on Wednesday by releasing right tackle Eric Winston. On Monday, the team had signed WR Dwayne Bowe and P Dustin Colquitt to long-term deals, and applied its franchise tender to LT Branden Albert.
The tagging of Albert and subsequent release of Winston has prompted speculation that the Chiefs will draft a new left tackle with the first-overall pick in April's draft, and shift Albert over to the right side. But according to some since-deleted tweets, Albert is not fond of the idea and sees himself as a left tackle.
But there is some context...
Prior to today's franchise tender deadline, Denver LT Ryan Clady, Cincy DE Michael Johnson, Buffalo S Jairus Byrd, Indy punter Pat McAfee, and Chicago DT Henry Melton were tagged.
The Titans had been likely to tender TE Jared Cook, but expectations that Cook would dispute being tagged as a TE rather than a WR have contributed to Tennessee opting not to tag him.
Kansas City had a flurry of activity, agreeing to new contracts with WR Dwayne Bowe and P Dustin Colquitt, and tagging LT Branden Albert.