Good Morning, Broncos fans! In its letter to the four players suspended in the Saints' bounty scandal, the NFL alleges that DE Will Smith helped Gregg Williams set up and fund the bounty system in New Orleans, that LB Scott Fujita also contributed to the fund during the 2009 playoffs, and that DE Anthony Hargrove was an active participant in the system.
In responding to the grievance filed by the union yesterday over the four players' suspensions, the league notes that the NFLPA did not challenge any of the facts in the case, nor the length of the penalties. In its statement, the NFL also alleges the NFLPA had never before suggested the players should possess immunity from punishment under the current CBA.
A legal expert says the issuance of suspensions by the Commish falls under the Ginger Hammer's best-interest powers to protect the league, and thus should pass muster with arbitrators.
Meanwhile, NFLPA counsel Richard Smith says the league has refused to provide the union with any of the evidence they requested, including player names, interview transcripts, or violation dates.
Happy Friday, Broncos fans! There is a growing dispute over the quality of evidence the NFL holds regarding the Saints' bounty scandal. Former US Attorney Mary Jo White says the NFL has some powerful evidence against New Orleans, perhaps referring to DE Anthony Hargrove's reported written statement detailing the bounty system and acknowledging his role in it.
That would probably qualify as strong-to-quite-strong evidence, right? Well, an NFLPA lawyer doesn't think so, and Mike Silver says the NFL must publicize whatever evidence they do have, stressing that there appears to be no proof of money changing hands, or of any players actually suffering injuries resulting from hits delivered with intent to harm.
Meanwhile, suspended LB Jonathan Vilma requested a meeting with the NFL prior to the announcement of his suspension, but he then decided not to go on advice from his lawyers.
Good Morning, Broncos fans. We've continued to add quotes and links to our story on the death of Junior Seau, and will continue to do so. Some poignant words about player safety and the future of football from the man himself are worth emphasizing here, via Jim Trotter:
In March, we spoke about the perception that commissioner Roger Goodell was making the game too soft with his enhanced enforcement of player safety rules. "It has to happen," he said. "Those who are saying the game is changing for the worse, well, they don't have a father who can't remember his name because of the game. I'm pretty sure if everybody had to wake with their dad not knowing his name, not knowing his kids' name, not being able to function at a normal rate after football, they would understand that the game needs to change. If it doesn't there are going to be more players, more great players, being affected by the things that we know of and aren't changing. That's not right." (h/t Judy Battista)
RIP, Junior. You will be missed.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Part of the predraft smokescreen emanating from Denver was the notion that the Broncos were considering Coby Fleener at #25. It didn't make sense then, and it doesn't make sense now, what with the team having already signed two free agents at the position in Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme to add to youngsters Virgil Green and Julius Thomas.
But having watched plenty of Stanford games last season in the hopes that Denver would Luck their way into the #1 pick, I had grown quite fond of Fleener's skills, and was excited about the possibility of the Broncos adding him. A few readers pointed out the silliness of that notion, and here's a tip of the hat to them. Now that we're back to reality...
Bill Barnwell writes that aside from quarterback (too easy), tight end is the position which got the biggest upgrade in Denver:
While Tamme is another ex-Colt, he's one of the few members of the Manning offense who isn't past his prime and might actually flourish in his new digs. Denver also made a nice investment by adding Joel Dreessen, who's consistently been an effective, efficient player behind Owen Daniels in Houston. Even if the Broncos hadn't added Manning, signing Tamme and Dreessen would have been a wise move; by doing so, the Broncos now have one of the five best one-two punches at tight end in football.
Well now, that's some hefty praise. We'll take it.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver waived 27-year-old wide receiver Tim Toone yesterday. Toone had been added to the practice squad in January following the injury to Eric Decker and promotion of D'Andre Goodwin to the active roster, and Denver signed him to a future contract a week after that.
Toone was made 2010's Mr. Irrelevant after the Lions drafted him 255th overall out of Weber State, although his prize package for that achievement wasn't quite what Chandler Harnish has been promised. Harnish, it turns out, had been all set to join the Chargers as an undrafted free agent before Indy selected him, and the Raiders and Chiefs had also expressed interest in the Northern Illinois QB.
But back to Toone - Tim (5-10, 185) was made expendable by Denver's addition of undrafted wideouts Eric Page (like Toone, a diminutive returner at 5-10, 190) and Gerell Robinson. So in terms of WR and KR depth, the departure of Toone won't likely be more than a blip on the transaction log. But, then there's THAT HAIR.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Matt Waldman thankfullly eschews giving out draft grades, instead just trying to figure out what teams tried to do. Starting with skill positions for the top of the alphabet, Waldman echoes what TJ wrote yesterday in writing that adding two undrafted wideouts while drafting none shows Denver is confident in its incumbent players. Plus, he could see Ronnie Hillman and Mario Fannin as the main backs in Denver's offense in a couple years, and he says we should keep an eye on Xavier Omon.
Just to expound upon what both TJ and Waldman wrote, trading up 20 spots in the second round to get a third-down back would be quite aggressive, to say the least. Just because Hillman is 5-9 and 200 lbs and has been described as a scatback and change-of-pace guy by the punditry doesn't mean that's the role Denver intends for him.
Naturally, we'll have to wait several months before we even begin to see what Hillman will be for Denver, but until then, we can again say - judging by their actions, the Broncos must love this guy.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! On Friday evening, after the Broncos selected Derek Wolfe with their first pick, TJ noted the defensive tackle's remarkable enthusiasm while being interviewed on Denver radio. It was amusing, almost vexing, the level of zeal Wolfe expressed about becoming a Bronco.
But after reading the young man's story, it's beyond easy to understand why Friday meant so much to Denver's new DT. It turns out Wolfe is essentially another Michael Oher - homeless as a child and never having known his father's name, Wolfe grew up in the homes of friends, molded by the goodwill of folks to whom he had no blood relations.
Even a year ago, he was nearly broke and strongly considered entering the 2011 Draft, a choice he says would have been "the worst decision of my life." Now a second-round draft pick and potential NFL starter, it appears he ended up making the proper call - certainly for himself, and hopefully for Denver's sake as well.
Good Morning, Broncos fans!
Denver must love these guys, and they must think they were not alone.
How else to explain away what looks to be a trio of reaches atop Denver's 2012 draft?
That's not to suggest Derek Wolfe, Brock Osweiler, and Ronnie Hillman aren't going to be any good in the NFL. They may very well be, even though neither Mike Mayock nor Gil Brandt put Hillman on their top 100 prospect lists, with Wolfe barely cracking Brandt's top 125. In case you were wondering, the Impassioned One had only the QB in his Top 100.
In the end, what matters is that you come away from a draft with players you wanted, and whom you spent time scouting. Who cares that every Joe Mock Draft had Wolfe going in the third round, and Hillman in the fourth? If these prospects make significant contributions as Broncos, we're all going to forget where they were drafted, how much lower Denver could have theoretically acquired them, and who else was on the board at those junctures.
6:34 pm - Speaking on NFLN, Andrew Luck says Peyton Manning sent him a congratulatory text message last night. What are the chances it read, "Good luck, you have no shot at matching my legacy"?
6:09 pm - Jeff Legwold went over the group of players left atop the board; Mike Klis says the offensive line and cornerback are priorities, and he also could see Denver adding another second- or third-rounder, as we had suggested this morning.
6:09 pm - The Giants gave DE Mathias Kiwanuka a three-year extension
4:02 pm - Cecil Lammey: expect #broncos to address OL needs, Martin, Glenn, Silatolu, all options IMHO...plus Polk train hot/cold w/DEN..sounds hot again now
Happy Friday, Broncos fans! As anticlimactic as last night was for us all, tonight and tomorrow should be quite active for Denver, and there is plenty of talent still available.
In effect, Denver moved back 11 spots from #25 to #36, and all they got in return for that was the fourth pick in the fourth round, #101 overall. Outdated draft chart aside, it doesn't feel like the Broncos got appropriate value for their move. But ultimately, it's not just about getting proper compensation - it's about what players were on the board, which ones came off between 25 and 36, and how Denver values the remaining available talent.
It sounds like the Broncos were hoping that Fletcher Cox, Michael Brockers, or Dontari Poe would fall to #25, and for a while, it seemed a possibility. Once those three guys went off between 11 and 14, the best values looked to be David DeCastro and Riley Reiff, and we were hoping they'd get to 25. Of course, we have no idea if Denver was eyeing those two offensive linemen, but once they went in the 23 (Reiff) and 24 (DeCastro) slots, there just didn't appear to be an obvious pick for Denver at 25.