The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

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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The Daily Lard 7-12-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag, Mike Klis reiterates his belief that Tim Tebow will be the starting QB in Denver this season while Kyle Orton will be dealt away. Klis also admits a couple of times that he basically doesn't ever watch film, although granted he's a beat reporter and not an analyst as his passionate colleague Legwold is supposed to be. In doing so, he bizarrely dismisses the assessment of a reader who took the time to study some college play of Von Miller and Nate Irving with the old "let's see them play in the NFL before criticizing them."

Yet, Klis does feel knowledgeable enough to proclaim that Josh McDaniels doesn't scheme the running game well, and Klis doesn't know why Steve Spagnuolo hired him to coach the Rams' offense. Nevermind the Broncos improvement there in the second half of 2010 or the Pats' 2,278 rushing yards and 21 TDs in 2008 (McDaniels' last year there). It's fair to say the ex-coach of the Broncos perhaps didn't run the ball enough at times; but the suggestion that he doesn't know how to and that will be the difference under John Fox and Mike McCoy is ludicrous. Good to see the DP is rounding into form as a labor agreement and training camp hopefully near...

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The Daily Lard 7-11-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter are reporting that an agreement on a new CBA is expected to be reached within the next 7 to 10 days and be ratified at the July 21 league meetings. If that is the case, teams would be provided a three-day window during which they can negotiate exclusively with their own free agents and sign undrafted rookies. Unrestricted veteran free agency would likely begin on July 28 and the preseason would be preserved in full, save possibly the HOF game scheduled for August 7.

Only a few days after free agency begins, teams would be required to set their rosters at 90 players and RFAs would have until August 3 to sign offer sheets, with clubs having four days to match those offers. According to the report, the revenue split is back to the players getting 48 percent and a minimum of 46.5 percent as had been previously agreed to weeks ago.

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The Daily Lard 7-10-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Former Broncos defensive lineman Pete Duranko passed away on Friday following an 11-year battle with ALS, the disease which would inspire him to become a national spokesman and fundraiser in search of a cure and to raise awareness. Duranko was drafted by the Cleveland Browns out of Notre Dame in 1966 but spent his entire NFL career from 1967 to 1974 with the Broncos, playing in 98 games and starting 76 of them. Regarding his own battle with ALS and his wife's fear of the day when Pete would be unable to care for himself, he told Patrick Saunders in 2003,

“She says, ‘I don’t know if I can handle it.' And I told her, ‘You never know what you can handle.”‘

Duranko was 67 years old and passed in his hometown of Johnstown, PA. Our thoughts go out to the Duranko family.

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The Daily Lard 7-9-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The players and owners met for 10 hours yesterday but apparently accomplished little, will remain in touch over the weekend and reconvene for more negotiations on Monday. Meanwhile, Jason La Canfora writes that the loophole left by the Eighth Circuit's ruling likely allows the NFLPA to pursue an expedited injunction to protect the rights of unsigned players, and that if an agreement isn't reached in short order they may do just that. Plus, if Judge Nelson were to grant such an injunction then the NFL would be unable to appeal the decision.

Puzzlingly, Mike Freeman thinks the Eighth Circuit's decision only helps the owners. However, he still thinks reason will prevail in the end. Finally, Andrew Brandt says the two sides are hoping to come up with an agreement that will result in perhaps a decade of labor peace.

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The Daily Lard 7-8-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! During a lengthy sitdown with John Fox yesterday, Woodrow picked the new HC's brain on the Denver QB situation. And while Fox says he has an idea who the starter will be, Paige surprisingly admitted to having no clue whether it's Kyle Orton or Tim Tebow whom Fox has in mind. We all were told when Fox was first hired that he's rather coy with his public statements, and that while he loves to talk he prefers not to actualy say anything while doing so - perhaps this is our first, best dose of that. Fox provided fodder for the backers of Tebow: he'd rather a "gamer" and leader who can handle pressure than someone who excels in practice - and for Orton fans: it's crucial the starter has a firm grasp on the offensive system. Surely, we can all interpret that through whatever lenses we're already wearing...

Fox went on to tell Paige that adding a running back is the team's #1 priority come free agency (more than a DT?!?!) and claimed the Broncos would fashion the "most sophisticated" rushing attack in the league, whatever that means. As Ted had alluded to upon the HC's hiring, Fox says he will leave the game-day playcalling to the coordinators and that his involvement will be heavier during the week, especially on defense.

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The Daily Lard 7-7-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! A collection of lawyers on both sides met yesterday for almost 11 hours yesterday in New York, apparently continuing to work on the smaller details with the mindset of reducing the expected 10-14 day lag between an agreement and signed document. Sounds a bit like putting the cart before the horse right? Couldn't the players and owners be working on the more crucial facets of a potential agreement concurrently?

Either way, De Smith, the Commish, the players, owners and Judge Boylan are expected to rejoin the talks today, although Boylan is scheduled to go on vacation on Saturday. If an agreement isn't reached before then, it will be interesting to see if the two sides will be able to forge ahead without resorting to their prior games and without allowing NFLPA outside attorneys Jeffrey Kessler and Jim Quinn to sabotage the negotiations in holding out for a beneficial verdict in the antitrust suit. Then again, it's thought that both the Eighth Circuit and Judge Doty have completed their rulings and would issue them if the two sides were to stalemate again.

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The Daily Lard 7-6-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The legal staffs of the two sides met yesterday for over seven hours in New York, will meet again today, and are expected to be joined by the players, owners, De Smith and Roger Goodell tomorrow. Meanwhile, Albert Breer goes on to write that if the talks were to stretch beyond July 15 and result in canceled preseason games, ownership is likely to worsen their offer and thus increase the likelihood of the labor dispute playing out in court.

Chris Mortensen is hearing a deal is "within reach" yet unlikely to be consummated this week. Finally, Mike Silver writes that a deal is much closer than the two sides are letting on, too close for them to allow the whole thing to regress into a legal battle. Silver believes that ultimately the two sides will both be able to claim victory in the end and come out looking like roses in the eye of the football-watching public, and that all will be forgiven for the lockout and its rhetoric. I'd have to agree with that last sentiment - what, are people going to stop watching football because training camp and OTAs were either shortened or omitted? Please...

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