The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

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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The Daily Lard 7-5-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! While the players and owners prepare to resume their negotiations today in New York, more details on their talks from last week are emerging. The reports from Thursday and Friday that the owners had backtracked from the earlier agreed upon split that gave 48% of revenue to the players has been confirmed by John Clayton, who says the owners increased their offer to 46% before the latest talks adjourned.

Meanwhile, Judy Battista writes that the retired players whose suit was combined with that of the current players filed a class-action complaint yesterday against both the players and owners, accusing the two sides of conspiring to lessen the retirees' benefits for their own gains. The goal of the complaint, which was filed in Federal District Court in Minneapolis, is to allow the retired players to represent their own interests at the negotiating table rather than letting the NFLPA do so.

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The Daily Lard 7-4-11

Happy Fourth of July, Broncos fans! Mike Freeman has penned an open letter to De Smith asking the NFLPA leader to get lawyers Jeffrey Kessler and Jim Quinn away from the labor negotiations. Freeman hears that the two attorneys have been "picking stupid fights" which have "delayed the negotiating process." As Jason Cole wrote the other day, the thinking is that Kessler and Quinn are pursuing an agenda that holds out until a verdict is reached in the Brady antitrust suit, one the players would be expected to win in a big way.

Meanwhile, Florio points out that the players will also lose out financially if preseason games are lost.

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The Daily Lard 7-3-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The Bradenton Herald caught up with Von Miller while he was at the NFLPA's rookie symposium last week, and the #2 pick spoke about his inclusion in the Brady suit and his lockout living arrangements. Miller admits it will be tough to top the season last year's second-overall choice Ndamukong Suh had, and he has a great perspective on the fact that he'll likely make a lot less money on his rookie contract than will Suh as a result of the expected new rookie wage scale. Miller told writer Alan Dell that he can't fear losing something he never had, and that

I am living with my parents, and they love me being there so everything is fine. To me, it’s never been about the money. I’ve played all my life for free, and if you take something here you’ve got to give something there. The great players will get their money in the long run.

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The Daily Lard 7-2-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The yo-yoing of the labor talks has continued, as Thursday's grim midday news were followed by many hours of negotiations and a reported mending of the revenue split issues. The talks continued for a couple of hours yesterday before breaking for the weekend, and are expected to start anew on Tuesday. Adam Schefter says the main issues being dealt with at this point are still the revenue split and the financial source of the so-called "legacy fund" to benefit retired players.

Mike Freeman is hearing that player attorneys Jeffrey Kessler and Jim Quinn are the biggest impediments to a deal at this point, and he writes that the Eighth Circuit and Judge Doty are holding off their own rulings and hoping that Judge Boylan's mediation will be enough to see the two sides through to an agreement. Finally, Jason Cole writes that Kessler and Quinn are happy to wait out the courts because come September, the players are likely to win big with their antitrust suit, as the owner's lawyer before the Eighth Circuit did little to convince the judges that a lockout could be extended beyond six months.

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The Daily Lard 7-1-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Jarrett Bell of USAT writes about the Broncos and the five biggest questions he deems they're facing this season, starting with whether John Elway will succeed as a front-office exec and if Tim Tebow can wrest the starting QB job from Kyle Orton. He figures the presence of John Fox means that hopefully the constant turnover at the DC position will finally come to an end, although Bell thinks the Broncos' selection of Von Miller over Marcell Dareus (of course, who knows if Dareus was even their second choice?) will be a hot debate topic going forward.

Bell concludes by wondering if Brian Dawkins has enough to contribute in his 16th season (and is it worth $6 million?) and if the Broncos can finally restore their home-field advantage. That last one should be filed under the "moot points" category, as good teams always have good records at home, while mediocre and poor teams (like Denver has been for the past five years) do not. They just have to become a better team, period. The rest (winning at home, beating division rivals and lesser teams, etc.) result from that...not vice versa.

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The Daily Lard 6-30-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In Woody's latest mailbag, he shares some good insight on the Denver coaching staff, as John Fox retained 11 of Josh McDaniels' assistants, mostly on the offensive side. Paige writes that there was a divide among the staff last year, with defensive assistants comprising what he calls the "anti-McDaniels faction," most or all of whom have moved on. He also points out that Fox quite interestingly kept on Mark Thewes, McDaniels' best friend and assistant, citing the job Thewes did of insulating and protecting McDaniels as his situation in Denver worsened.

Woody figures that if Tim Tebow is the starting QB, we can expect to see more plays that utilize his ability to get out of the pocket, and he theorizes that Knowshon Moreno will at best either split carries or become more of a third-down type back. He also floats the idea of re-signing Daniel Graham, but that seems unlikely considering his advanced age and the diverse talent and youth already on the roster at that position. Woody expects little meddling from Fox on offense, not because it's Fox's way (it is) but because he'll need to focus on helping Dennis Allen in his first year as DC.

Woody says not to expect Justin Bannan back, and that he's likely headed eastward. Finally, he says that the only way Kyle Orton ends up starting at QB is if the labor talks go much later than expected, resulting in an abridged training camp.

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The Daily Lard 6-29-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As he profiles Julius Thomas and his transition to the NFL, Klis changed his mind sometime yesterday and realized that no, the Broncos probably won't be signing any veteran tight ends in free agency. Meanwhile, Thomas has been staying with Brady Quinn and was apparently the first of Denver's nine picks to join the veteran workouts yesterday when he caught passes from Quinn.

Klis also helps us clarify the rookies/playbooks mystery: Thomas and the rest of the second-day draftees apparently don't have them, while the first-day picks do. But really, how does that make any sense at all? It can't be that the relationship between fellow draftees or between veterans and rookies is so cutthroat that they don't want to help each other out, right? It would presumably take just one player with a playbook and some initiative to head over to a Staples or Kinko's and have some copies made for his mates. Perhaps NFL playbooks now self-destruct when they're placed on a copy machine? Come on guys, it's been two months...

Note 10:50AM ET - As Ted pointed out to me, there is paper out there that prevents scans and copies, and it stands to reason that NFL teams would utilize this technology when printing their playbooks. So, that would explain things and render my rant moot...

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The Daily Lard 6-28-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Klis looks at the veteran running backs expected to be available in free agency, and thankfully doesn't list DeAngelo Williams as the best fit for Denver. Much more sensibly, Klis thinks Oakland's Michael Bush would be an ideal fit, and Bush certainly does more closely resemble the "Fox likes bigger RBs" meme, as the 27-year old has six inches and over thirty pounds on Williams. More importantly, Bush is likely to command much less in the way of guaranteed money.

Puzzingly, Klis is sticking with the "Denver needs to sign a pass-catching TE" line of thought even after the Broncos added Julius Thomas and Virgil Green via the draft to the incumbent group of Richard Quinn, Dan Gronkowski and Daniel Coats. Unless keeping five TEs on the roster is an option (how could it be?) it's quite hard to believe the Broncos would want to give another TE any amount of guaranteed money. Figure that Coats is a very likely cut, and three or four of the remaining players would make the final roster.

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