The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 7-22-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Chris Mortensen continues to report that a player vote may take place today, is now saying a vote today is unlikely (ed. 11:30AM ET) and that the items still in question are the absence of an opt-out clause and the requirement of recertification as a condition to end the lockout. For some reason, there are also differing opinions on the procedure for recertification, as the owners are suggesting the players do so electronically, while the NFLPA reportedly wants the players to each sign cards once they return to their respective team HQs. To reiterate, the items that Roger Goodell and Jeff Pash said last night would not be changing, specifically player conduct policy, have already been discussed but cannot be collectively bargained or agreed to until the union is recertified and the ratified agreement is submitted to Judge Nelson.

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The Daily Lard 7-21-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Woody Paige thinks that once Tim Tebow proves his worth in the preseason, the Broncos will be able to land both a veteran player and conditional pick in return for Kyle Orton from either Arizona, Seattle, Miami or Tennessee. He also seems to backtrack from his earlier claim that Josh McDaniels was convinced by the front office to extend Orton's contract last year rather than trade him. Rather, Paige writes that McDaniels himself realized last August that Tebow was not ready to be the starting QB. Plus, he says that the ex-coach traded for Brady Quinn not to be the backup necessarily, but to compete with Orton for the starting gig (before drafting Tebow or even knowing he'd want/be able to acquire him). Finally, Woody writes that starting Orton for one more year would be the best (if impractical) solution to allow Tebow more time to develop, and that Kyle is unwilling to stick around as Tebow's backup.

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The Daily Lard 7-20-11

Good Morning, Broncos! Legal teams for the two sides worked yesterday on a settlement document which is expected to be presented before the NFLPA's executive committee and the 32 teams' player reps sometime today. The player reps would then hopefully recommend the settlement to the named plaintiffs in the Brady suit, followed by recertification of the players' union.

The next step would be ratification of the deal tomorrow by the owners, who are meeting in Atlanta. Shortly afterwards, the owners and team executives would be briefed on the details of the agreement including the 2011 NFL calendar, the rookie wage scale and transaction guidelines, in a seminar expected to last into Friday. Meanwhile, the retired players have said they will not stand in the way of a deal, and the agent for Peyton Manning and Drew Brees vehemently disputed reports that the two QBs are making special demands as part of a settlement of the Brady suit.

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The Daily Lard 7-19-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As Albert Breer reports, lawyers for the two sides met for over eight hours yesterday in NY, while the NFLPA's executive committee is in DC preparing for a meeting tomorrow with the 32 team reps which could result in a recommendation to settle the Brady suit. The owners are hoping to ratify a new deal on Thursday, after which team executives would be briefed on terms of the agreement as it pertains to them. Breer says that although the issue of benefits lost during the uncapped 2010 season is still an unsettled issue, the two sides came to an agreement on retired player benefits.

Meanwhile, Jason La Canfora is hearing the two sides could have a difficult negotiation ahead of them regarding the TV lockout insurance, and that some of the named plaintiffs in the Brady suit are seeking a form of damages - Chargers WR Vincent Jackson and Pats G Logan Mankins want assurance they won't be franchised by their clubs, while DE Osi Umenyiora wants either a new contract from the Giants or to be traded.

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The Daily Lard 7-18-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Revisiting the Steve Wyche/Bucky Brooks podcast from yesterday's Lard, both Brooks and Wyche are convinced that Tim Tebow will be the Broncos' starting QB in 2011. Brooks says that from his time working with John Fox and the Panthers in a scouting capacity, he believes Fox wants a QB who possesses the "It" factor, and that Tebow will be an ideal fit within the more balanced offense Fox prefers. Meanwhile, Wyche says he's spoken with enough people that he's comfortable in stating that the starting gig will be Tebow's to lose, and that he'd have to be a complete flop in training camp or get injured to do so. Wyche also believes that while the Broncos are seeking a second-rounder in return for Kyle Orton, they'd take a third-rounder in exchange for the veteran QB, and that Jake Delhomme is going to land in Denver once Cleveland lets him go.

Wyche also states with great confidence that the Broncos are going to make a major push to sign DeAngelo Williams, although he also puzzlingly suggests the team could be interested in signing another LB in free agency (Brian Xanders has pretty much ruled that out, at least publicly). Brooks thinks defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Barry Cofield would be excellent fits for Denver, with the aging Pat Williams as a fallback. If you'd like to listen for yourself, the segment where Wyche and Brooks discuss the Broncos begins at the 14-minute mark.

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The Daily Lard 7-17-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Chris Mortensen writes that the new CBA will be a 10-year deal, and hopes are that a deal will be reached in time for the players to recertify their union and ratify an agreement on Wednesday, with the owners following suit at their meeting the next day. With an agreement nearing, Mort is hearing the players are looking to be compensated for $320 million in benefits that were lost due to the uncapped 2010 season, and to have franchise tags limited to a one-time use for each player. The other remaining issues as reported previously are resolution of the Brady suit and the TV lockout fund, and worker's comp.

Mortensen also writes that going forward, two-a-day practices will be eliminated from training camps, while OTAs would be shortened and start later than they had in prior years. Teams will reportedly have a 72-hour period to re-sign their own free agents, including in the Broncos' case UFAs DT Marcus Thomas and OT Ryan Harris. As Lindsay Jones reported in June, K Matt Prater and LB Wesley Woodyard will be restricted free agents requiring draft-pick compensation to Denver should other teams sign them.

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The Daily Lard 7-16-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Albert Breer writes that an agreement on a new CBA is expected to be reached early next week, while lawyers for the two sides will continue meeting over the weekend. The most significant progress of yesterday's talks was that the owners altogether dropped their demand to have rights of first refusal on a number of their own free agents, and the two sides apparently agreed upon offseason programs and player safety issues. Plus, it is expected that players will receive their full offseason workout bonuses as was previously contracted.

Remaining items include retiree benefits, drug testing, and settling the Brady suit and TV rights case, although these are not seen as potential stumbling blocks. According to Breer, the players have ceded the right to renegotiate contracts until after their third season in the league - Andrew Brandt writes that undrafted players had been able to renegotiate following their second season. Also, the fifth-year options for first-rounders mentioned yesterday will be based upon salaries during the third year of a contract; in other words, Denver's 2015 option on Von Miller will require the Broncos to guarantee him the average salary of the NFL's top 10 linebackers as paid during the 2013 season.

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The Daily Lard 7-15-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Last night's labor talks, which reportedly included agreements on a rookie wage scale and a 2011 salary cap, wrapped up around 10pm ET and will pick up again this morning at 9am ET. According to Chris Mortensen, the fifth-year option included in rookie contracts for first-rounders would mean for a player drafted in the top 10 (like Von Miller) a salary equal to the average of the top 10 players at his position. For the rest of the first-rounders (picks 11-32) that option would be worth the average of the player salaries ranked 3-25 at their respective positions.

In the case of all first-rounders, a team would be able to exercise that fifth-year option following the player's third season and his salary would then become guaranteed. This latest report doesn't specify what, if anything, changes about the option if it is exercised following the player's fourth year. So under this framework, Von Miller will be under contract through the 2014 season, with the Broncos holding an expensive option to keep him through 2015 - relative to 2009 data, that salary would be around $10 million.

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The Daily Lard 7-14-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Punter Britton Colquitt and his brother Dustin who punts for the Chiefs, were both on with Vic & Gary on Tuesday, and Dustin had some interesting insight into Handshake Haley's finger wag last season at the Big IF. According to Dustin, Haley believed McDaniels and the Broncos had cheated their way to their emphatic 49-29 Week 10 victory; it would be McDaniels' final win as Denver's head coach. The elder Colquitt told Vic & Gary,

Todd was just kind of saying, ‘Look, with the game plan we had and what you guys already knew we were gonna do, this is,’ basically saying it was ‘bush, bush, league.’

Hmm. Haley may have apologized for the handshake snub, but obviously these new details should make for some nice media drama fodder should the two meet again. Here is the podcast from the Colquitt brothers' radio appearance; the McDaniels/Haley talk begins around the 7m09s mark.

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The Daily Lard 7-13-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Woody Paige shares more of his conversation with John Fox from last week, discussing the coach's outlook on free agency. As Paige explains, Fox was hamstrung in Carolina by owner Jerry Richardson's two-year austerity plan to prepare for the lockout, which included a lack of significant free-agent signings. Fox told Woody he'd like to build his team primarily through the draft and fill holes via free agency, explaining that the Broncos may not necessarily acquire any of the more expensive veterans available, adding that such players "usually have some baggage."

After Fox reiterates the team's need for another running back, Paige goes on to write that the Broncos should add some defensive tackles, an offensive tackle and a fullback. He also suggests the team should acquire another defensive back and tight end, but Denver already has an abundance of players at those positions, with essentially four TEs likely fighting for three spots (excluding Daniel Coats) and 13 corners and safeties for 9 or 10 spots (not counting Nick Polk and Chevis Jackson). It's hard to picture any veterans wanting to throw themselves into those jam-packed sections of the depth chart, and the lack of OTAs and mini-camps means the coaching staff will have less time to evaluate players.

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