The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

Statuesque Lard 3-11-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! What a shame. It appears Tim Tebow will have a statue erected in his honor at the Gators' stadium before John Elway gets one outside the stadium THAT HE BUILT. Who knows - perhaps Mr. B has offered to have one created to honor Elway and The Greatest Ever was embarrassed by the idea. And maybe Elway specifically didn't want one because he knew he'd someday be either running the team and/or owning it, so perhaps he thought it would be a bit tacky to have a statue of himself outside his 'office'. Whatever the explanation, Mr. B should still have gone ahead and put up a worthy tribute to John Elway the football player. After all, without Elway would Bowlen have his shiny publicly-subsidized stadium that's named for a company that engaged in market timing?

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The Daily Lard 3-10-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Yahoo's Jason Cole is reporting that the NFL and the players' union have agreed to the structure of a new rookie wage scale, in which first-rounders' contracts would be limited to four years in length. There would also apparently be a cap on the signing bonuses and guarantees given, and contracts for players drafted beyond the first round would be limited to three years (which would be followed by restricted free agency). Assuming Cole's report is correct, this is unquestionably good news for the Broncos - it will allow them to either select a player at #2 and not be hamstrung by a massive guarantee, or trade the pick, which would now be more attractive thanks to those same financial restraints.

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The Daily Lard 3-9-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! John Fox spoke at a business breakfast yesterday at the Pepsi Center and made some strange promise that "we'll be in the championship on some level very soon," whatever that means. Once again, Fox spoke of the parallels between his arrivals in Denver this year and in Carolina in 2002, while John Elway talked again about re-signing Champ Bailey. Both men basically said that the decision to re-sign Kevin Vickerson and release Justin Bannan and Jamal Williams was about fielding a younger group.

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The Daily Lard 3-8-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The details on Kevin Vickerson's new contract are out, and it includes a $1 million signing bonus and a potential value of $4.75 million over two seasons. Plus, Kyle Orton is due to receive his $1.5 million roster bonus on the fifth day of the new league year (in addition to his salary which is just under $7.4 million), while John Elway and John Fox are headed to Auburn's pro day today.

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Laborious week Lard 3-7-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! This is going to be a slooooow week in the news department, as the only game in town is the CBA negotiation. Again, the extended deadline (to Friday at 5pm ET) came with the caveat of no player transactions for the entire week. But worry not - Doc, Ted and TJ will be bringing it as always, meaning real analysis and in-depth writing. If you're looking for wild speculation and ridiculous headlines (or perhaps a new mock draft each day) then you know where to go. Obviously, we'll keep you posted on the CBA fun.

Speaking of speculation, among PFW's AFC Whispers they're hearing that Denver is backing off the idea of dealing Kyle Orton. Why? Because as many have pointed out (especially our own readers), John Fox may prefer to have a veteran QB around. Plus, in the event of a lockout, there'd be the possibility of a shortened offseason and therefore little time for a true QB competition. Obviously, we're going to be hearing/reading different versions of this very story for the next 4-6 months, but I think Orton and his $7.379 million salary will still eventually be traded.

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The Daily Lard 3-6-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer wrote yesterday that the Panthers are not set on taking a defensive lineman first overall in the draft. According to Person's sources (or it may just be his own speculation, it's hard to tell from the way it's written), Carolina is also considering the possibility of selecting Cam Newton or even Blaine Gabbert. Person also raises the potentiality of the Panthers going with Patrick Peterson. Obviously none of this talk is a surprise - it could be that Carolina is merely posturing for the option of trading down, or perhaps they really don't know who they're going to take yet. After all, it's but early March.

Update 11:06AM ET - From Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "A little birdie says the Vikings considered trading for Denver quarterback Kyle Orton but have backed off. But it wasn't because of any progress made by Joe Webb, who insiders say is nowhere close to being an effective starter." (via PFT)

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Evil Raiders Lard 3-5-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! If you're around my age (33) or older, I'm guessing you grew up seeing the Raiders not as the dysfunctional, JaMarcus the Hutt-led laughingstock of recent years, nor was Al Davis the incoherent whackjob we see today. Rather, the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders were a formidable opponent, evidenced by their 18-15 record against the Broncos during John Elway's career - including an excruciating conclusion to the 1993 season. But beyond the intense rivalry and the Raiders' speed and talent, there was a swagger to them - quite frankly, they were a dirty bunch of cheapshot-doling intimidators that seemed to rack up double-digit penalties in every game. Al sat up there in his white jumpsuit lording over his band of henchmen, and trips to the LA Coliseum were scary - for both the Broncos and their fans. I used to think, "These are just bad guys." The Raiders represented football evil to me, whether it be in the form of their black jerseys and ominous logo, or the late hits from guys like Winston Moss or Nolan Harrison. Well, perhaps there was something to it. Anthony Smith, the Raiders' 1st-round pick in 1990, has been charged with murder along with two other men in the 2008 beating and shooting of a man. This isn't meant to make light of the darkest of situations, but are you really surprised?

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Younger, cheaper line Lard 3-4-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! There's at least another day for the NFL and the players' union to come to an agreement on a new CBA, or at least agree to extend the CBA deadline further. As for Denver, they are looking more and more like a team that's going to draft a defensive lineman with their first pick next month after having released last year's free-agent acquisitions Justin Bannan and Jamal Williams. The two veterans were due a combined $1.5 million in roster bonuses and $7.7 million in salary and in April will turn 32 and 35 years old, respectively. While Bannan's release is something of a surprise, one has to interpret the move as meaning the former CU Buff wasn't to be a starter, and therefore an overpriced backup or rotational player. 

Denver did make another notable roster move yesterday in re-signing Kevin Vickerson to a two-year deal, and it's a reasonable assumption that he'll be moving inside as a younger, cheaper starter or rotational piece. But the absence of Bannan and Williams makes it seem a lot less likely the Broncos will trade down from the second-overall pick in the draft. That is, unless they have someone other than Marcell Dareus or Nick Fairley in mind as an immediate starter out of the draft.

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Token tenders Lard 3-3-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Just to reinforce an important point that came up last night regarding the Broncos' tenders: Ryan Harris, Marcus Thomas and Kevin Vickerson will be unrestricted free agents if the next season is to be played under a new CBA. In other words, the only way Denver's contract tenders will have any true meaning is if the 2011 season is played without a CBA, which is a practical impossibility. If anything, offering tenders to these players (as most/all teams did with their younger veterans) can be viewed as just a gesture to express the team's interested in retaining them.

However, Matt Prater and Wesley Woodyard were scheduled to be restricted free agents this offseason no matter what - so their tenders do in fact mean that a team would have to give up a second-round pick to sign either of them, which one would have to think the Broncos would gladly accept with two open and extended arms. Prater may be a terrific kicker and Woodyard an excellent special teamer, but a second-rounder for each? Yes, please!!!

Big oops: Folks, Andrew Mason has redesigned his excellent site, and frankly I was under the impression he was taking a bit of a break. He wasn't, so I haven't read or linked his fine work in awhile - please check out his new design and update your bookmarks! Of course, I will be back to linking his material tomorrow, apologies to y'all for making you read so much Legwold of late...

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Shiny toy Peterson Lard 3-2-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Matt Bowen writes that after yesterday's performance, the Broncos could have trouble passing up the chance to draft Patrick Peterson. The 6-foot, 219-pound corner (that's 27 pounds heavier than Champ Bailey) ran a 4.34 official 40 time - so he's as big as a safety but as fast as a top corner, which means he could easily be utilized anywhere in the secondary. However, Bowen also says that with Peterson's considerable skills, this is not a player that you'd move inside to play safety.

The philosophy of taking the best player available is almost never misplaced, but at #2 overall is there really enough of a difference between these players to pass over a canyonesque area of need like DT or LB? Isn't it splitting hairs to say Peterson may be a better prospect than Nick Fairley, Von Miller or Marcell Dareus? Considering the needs of this Broncos team, Peterson seems at this point more like a luxury - yes, we at IAOFM talk all the time about the importance of passing and stopping the pass. But who do we have at linebacker that qualifies as a sure thing, even less a star? Nobody. The luster has been off DJ Williams for quite some time now, Joe Mays and Mario Haggan may be too big and/or slow for whatever John Fox and Dennis Allen come up with, and as much as we love him, Wesley Woodyard is an undersized player with durability issues. Justin Bannan and Marcus Thomas are solid players, but is either one a difference maker, an impact player? A disrupter? Most definitely not. What do you think? Should Patrick Peterson be a consideration for Denver at #2?

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