The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

Jerry Butler joins John Fox in Chicago

Good Afternoon, Broncos fans! Although he wasn't part of the coaching staff, another important assistant has followed John Fox to Chicago - player development director Jerry Butler.

Much of what a player development director does isn't measurable, but it might be fair to grade someone like Butler on player arrests. And since Butler came to Denver in 2011, the Broncos had fewer arrests for domestic violence and other serious issues.

They still had too many DUI incidents, and John Elway deserves some of the credit for his construction of the roster, but it at least seems like Denver has lost a solid employee in Butler.

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Dez Bryant appears to be getting smeared ahead of free agency

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Teams have until 4pm ET on Monday to apply their franchise or transition tags to pending unrestricted free agents like Demaryius Thomas.

Dez Bryant, Thomas's fellow 2011 first-rounder, is also likely to be tagged, as the Cowboys have been hesitant to give their star wideout a chunk of guaranteed money. This reluctance has apparently stemmed from his off-field issues, and there's one incident that's caused quite a stir this week.

It's apparently long been rumored within NFL circles that Bryant was involved in a disturbance at a Walmart parking lot in 2011. Local police found no cause to make any arrests, but there are rumors of a video of the incident.

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James Casey expands free agency tour, doesn’t figure to be a bargain

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Tight end/fullback James Casey, who will visit with the Broncos on Thursday, is booking up his free agency tour.

Already scheduled to meet with Arizona, Casey will reportedly also visit Cleveland, and will meet sometime with Tennessee. Because the 30-year old was released by Philadelphia, he is free to sign at anytime, and does not have to wait for the NFL calendar to flip in a couple of weeks.

Although he was likely overpaid at $4M, this widespread interest suggests he won't necessarily need to reduce himself to a bargain basement salary.

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Jim Harbaugh says the Niners fired him

Good Morning, Broncos fans! According to Woody Paige, Peyton Manning will be back in 2015, and yes, it will be with the Broncos.

However, Woody says not to expect an announcement just yet, but sometime within the next two weeks, adding that Peyton's leg injury was worse than what the player and team admitted to publicly.

Meanwhile, Woody's pal Mark Kiszla says Manning shouldn't be in such a rush to come back, and he hilariously posits that John Elway would make Peyton take a pay cut, that is, if he were a "smart football man" like Kiz clearly is.

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Bucs appear locked in on quarterback at #1

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The 2015 NFL Draft is still a full 12 weeks away, but some clarity is already developing at number one.

Tampa Bay cut starting quarterback Josh McCown, who had one year and $5.25M remaining on his two-year deal. The team may also look to trade Mike Glennon, their 2013 third-rounder who started 18 games over his first two seasons.

This clearing of the decks appears to confirm the Bucs' plan to take either Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston with the #1 overall pick.

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Now would be a good time for Jerry Rice to stop throwing around asterisks

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Now that the news cycle has calmed down a bit, it seems like a good time to get back to the Lard. Let's get caught up, shall we?

Most of us probably wondered what had become of Seattle's dominant defense last Sunday, as Tom Brady carved them up to the tune of four touchdowns and 37/50 passing. As it turns out, it's rather incredible that the Legion of Boom was on the field at all that day, because the group was dealing with severe injuries.

As everyone saw, Richard Sherman hurt his arm during the NFC title game, and it was no joke. The new dad suffered torn ligaments in his left elbow, and may even require Tommy John surgery to repair them.

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Super Bowl 49 recaps

It was a great game; congratulations to the Patriots. But frankly, I don't want to spend all that much time writing about it and their legacy (unmatched, at least since I've been watching football). Anyway, here are the recaps from our favorite NFL writers, plus the essential ones.

Andy Benoit, Mike Tanier, Matt Bowen, Robert Mays, Bill Barnwell, Ben Stockwell, Sam MonsonNate SilverPeter King, John Clayton, Don Banks, and PFT Commenter

Do math and science support Patriots’ claims they’re not cheaters?

Physicists from Harvard and Columbia, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Bill Nye have called it unlikely that the Patriots' footballs shrunk on their own. But did they check their work?

According to scientists at Carnegie Mellon and MIT, Mother Nature really may be to blame for the Pats' latest cheating scandal.

From the New York Times:

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Real scientists deflate Belichick’s lesson; locker-room attendant implicated

Over the weekend, Bill Belichick called an impromptu presser, during which punched back with an apparent strong defense of his team and his own legacy. There was a My Cousin Vinny reference, defense of the prior so-called Spygate cheating scandal, and loads of pseudoscience.

Pats Nation got all lathered up, thinking the hooded one had put his latest allegation to rest (as if they needed any convincing). Here was Belichick's science lesson from Saturday:

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Everyone thinks the Patriots are full of hot air

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady took to the podium on Thursday, and quite predictably, pleaded total ignorance to their latest (of many) possible cheating scandal(s).

Given his 40 years of coaching in the NFL and well known reputation as a micromanager, it's hard to believe Belichick previously knew nothing about what happens to game balls each Sunday, as he suggested.

Brady was even less convincing, first admitting that he's very particular about his game balls, but then claiming to have noticed no inconsistencies during the AFC title game.

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