Happy Saturday, friends. As per Doug's request from last night, I have some thoughts on the potential matches between the Broncos and new free agents Charles Woodson, Dwight Freeney, and Austin Collie.
All are established veterans, but have enough tarnish at this point that they won't command much contractually - think one-year deals, with little or no guaranteed money.
Collie's issue is concussions, but I'd take a look at him as a fourth WR for the minimum. I'm sure he has better chemistry with Peyton Manning and knowledge of the route concepts than Matt Willis (who's also an unrestricted free agent) does.
I think there's more potential value to the Broncos with Collie than there is to any other team, and the risk to the team is nil.
Happy Friday, friends. I got derailed from writing for yesterday, and while I may be a day late, you won’t catch me a dollar short. In continuation of Wednesday’s topic, today I want to talk about some young Broncos defenders who may be primed for a big leap in 2013.
The most obvious one is probably Derek Wolfe, who had a very nice rookie season, and who I think is only scratching the surface of his potential. The first thing you have to understand about Wolfe is that he’s not used as a traditional 4-3 DE; he’s really more of a 3-4 type of player, and the Broncos defense is actually mostly a 3-4 in disguise. If Elvis Dumervil lined up in a two-point stance, the disguise would be gone.
Wolfe was the primary difference between 2011, when the Broncos usually had to use eight men in the box against the run, and 2012, when they usually managed pretty well with seven. It’s a major deal for the soundness of a defense when it can afford to keep two deep safeties, and the play of Wolfe, Justin Bannan, and Kevin Vickerson was what allowed it.
Happy Wednesday, friends. It’s time for another question from the mailbag. We solicited your questions, and you’ve been sending them. If you just now thought of something, hit us up here. For today, Kaleb Harvey writes:
Every year a few players break out like Zane Beadles and Chris Harris did this year. And also players that take on a bigger than expected role like Tony Carter and Wesley Woodyard. Who are your picks for breakout players for next year?
That’s a good question. I can see some players on both offense and defense stepping up their games, so I’m actually going to break this into two articles, beginning with offense today, and ending with defense tomorrow.
I think, for starters, that it’s easy to point to Ronnie Hillman as a guy who could make a big leap in his second season. He was the youngest player in the NFL, and it often showed. He has a lot of talent, but there’s a good deal of work to do there on both technique and physical ability.
Happy Sunday, friends. Once again, the mailbag has yielded a good question. This is one of those parts of the offseason where nothing is really going on, and where we’re really likely to have time to address good questions, so keep ‘em coming.
Today, from our friend Haiku Boy:
I have an ongoing argument with this contrarian frenemy of mine who keeps insisting they should cut Robert Ayers. I know the cap savings would be minimal (roughly one million) but he points to his lackluster statistics, low defensive snap count, and frankly the fact he was picked by McDaniels.
Is there any way this will happen, and would there be any way to justify the move? This guy is seriously bugging the crap out of me.
No problem, HB. The price for the answer is one haiku in the comment section. Whenever a fan talks about getting rid of a player, for whatever reason, the first question that must be asked and answered is, “Can you get somebody better (or at least at a better value) to fill the guy’s role, and where’s he coming from?”
Happy Tuesday, friends. Doug mentioned in this morning’s Lard that he and I had discussed Elvis Dumervil, and his associated costs, and I wanted to amplify my thoughts on him. His cap number of $12.5 million is pretty high for 2013, but since his $12 million salary is fully guaranteed, there should be no doubt that he’ll be a Bronco.
The question is whether he’s properly valued. Not to spoil the surprise, but I think the answer is yes. Let’s first talk about the contract Dumervil is working under, which is what I’d call a Broncos-style contract. They’ve been leading the NFL in moving away from the concept of signing bonuses, and instead going to more of a guaranteed base salary concept, like MLB and the NBA do.
That’s smart from a cash management perspective, because much of the cash inflows that the team receives come during the season, from ticket sales, and concessions, and corporate sponsorships. I don’t know when the networks and DirecTV pay the NFL, but I think it’s a reasonable assumption that it happens during the season, because that’s when they’re getting cash from their advertisers and (in DTV’s case) subscribers. By paying out a larger salary during the season, the team times its outflows to match when its inflows are highest.
Happy Tuesday, friends. As promised, I’m back with Part 2 of my salary cap and free agency primer. Here’s Part 1, in case you missed it. If you did, you missed the homework assignment, so read all the way down and catch up. We’ll wait.
Okay, welcome to the party. There were a lot of good ideas in the comments yesterday, and today, I’m going to describe what I would do if I ran the Broncos. The idea isn’t to reflect what they will do, in other words. It’s intellectually equivalent of my annual Rational Actor Mock Draft, which is months away from being done for 2013.
As you’ll recall from yesterday, the Broncos are now without two starting DTs, a starting and backup MLB, two backup safeties (one a key special teamer), a starting slot WR, a backup WR, a backup CB, and a backup center. (That’s just the unrestricted free agents.) We have $15.5 million of cap room to spend, after we allocate $3 million to the 2013 Draft.
Happy Monday, friends. We’re on the other side of the Pro Bowl now, with only a who-gives-a-damn Super Bowl left to go. For today, I decided to start putting together some salary cap and free agency ideas, so we can all start getting our minds around what’s to come. There’s already a bunch of speculation out there about who the Broncos should sign or trade for, and most of it is silly.
Today, we’re going to be serious, and we’re going to dismiss all of the delusions of grandeur that a lot of fans and reporters have. A football team has to plan for both the short term, as well as the long term, and the long-term planning that the Broncos face doesn’t allow for the big splash signings that get people excited.
Let’s start by doing some math, and by understanding how the Broncos currently sit structurally within the constraints of the salary cap. The cap in 2013 is expected to be around $121 million, and the Broncos currently look like they’ll have $18.5 million at the beginning of the NFL year. It’s easy to think that they can just go out and spend $18.5 million in average annual value on free agents, but it’s not that simple.
One of the interesting things to me about how sports are understood in America is that people get their information about them mostly through media members who don’t really know what they’re talking about. The average sportswriter knows (privately) that their knowledge isn’t what a lot of people think it is, so they rely on insiders to the sport they cover to give them information. That means that what they say is clouded by the agendas of the information sources.
One enduring belief among sportswriters and sports fans is that owners should just stay out of the affairs of their teams. They should just trust the “football guys” and limit their involvement to hiring and firing those people periodically. This belief exists because those football guys moan and groan about “meddlesome” owners to their media friends, and then every time an owner says something about a football matter, the media people reflexively frame those comments as being detrimental to team success, because what does the owner know about football anyway?
The idea that an owner of a business worth an average of $1 billion should just shut up and sign checks, and leave the management of that business to hired help is pretty absurd. The owner may not be able to judge ankle flexion in a cornerback prospect as well as some scout who specializes in doing so, but he can learn enough football, as a generalist, to participate in the decision making of a business he owns.
I’ve been waiting for somebody to hire Chip Kelly so I could write this article, and I thought I was going to miss out on the chance for this season. The Eagles have landed (their guy) though, so it turns out I get to write it. I think it’s going to be a home run for them, and I applaud them for going all out to land the man they wanted.
A lot of people who don’t know what they’re talking about are going to condemn the Kelly hire, and say their stuff about how he runs a gimmick college offense, and it’ll never work in the pros, and blah blah blah. They’re wrong, though, and the evidence of the last couple of seasons is accumulating that teams can have a lot of success in spreading out defenses, and running the ball with zone-read concepts.
There is no monolithic “spread offense,” and anybody who acts like they’re all the same is ignorant. Kelly’s offense does like to use a lot of fast personnel, and does spread out its formations. It’s a run-heavy offense though, and if anything, it’s more old-school than it is revolutionary.
A little while ago, Doug mentioned the idea that Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy may prefer the San Diego Chargers head coaching job to that of the Arizona Cardinals. I wanted to weigh in briefly with the thought that I think people are getting the Chargers job wrong, vis-a-vis its quality. Philip Rivers is cited as the primary reason why it's a good job, and the fact that the Cardinals don't seem to have a viable QB is the reason Arizona is a bad one.
I'd say that not only do the Chargers not have a good enough QB, they have a problem worse than that. They have a guy who was once near-elite, but who has been declining steadily, and complicating things, he's misperceived by the football media as still being a good QB, and he remains locally popular, to the extent that Chargers fans give a crap about their team. This is Bernie Kosar in the early 90s, if Chargers fans were as engaged as Browns fans.