The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

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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CP Lard 3-1-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Clinton Portis was released by Shanny and the Skins yesterday after seven seasons in Washington.

While CP was only a Bronco for two seasons, he remains one of my all-time favorites - drafted 51st overall in 2002, Portis was a faster (albeit not quite as durable) version of Terrell Davis who incredibly racked up 1,872 yards from scrimmage and 17 TDs as a rookie despite not becoming the team's primary ballcarrier until Week 5.

He backed that performance up in his sophomore season with 1,905 yards and 14 TDs despite missing three games due to injury, but then Shanny dealt him to DC for Champ and a second-rounder (Tatum Bell) - it was a deal of two superstars who wanted more money, and one of the most significant player-for-player trades in NFL history. In his brief Denver career, Portis posted a remarkable 5.5 yards per attempt and 106.9 per game, with 29 rushing touchdowns on 563 carries.

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End of the line for DG? Lard 2-28-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Legwold slipped an interesting little nugget into one of his columns today - he mentioned that Denver would likely release some veterans who are due roster bonuses this week. Of course, he didn't bother to do any research regarding who the prime candidates may be. So, who may be on the chopping block? Justin Bannan is due a $500,000 bonus and will make $3.5 million each of the next two seasons. Let's call him an unlikely cut, but a possibility depending upon the Broncos' draft plan. Not only does Kyle Orton have a $1.5 million roster bonus coming his way, but he's also guaranteed almost $2.9 million of his 2011 salary. Can't see it as being within the realm of possibility, but it sure would be fascinating to see/hear the reaction to a release of Orton after last week.

There is one veteran, however, who sounds like a prime candidate to be cut - TE Daniel Graham. He's set to earn a $1 million roster bonus and a salary of $4.2 million, and although he's still an excellent blocker, he did seem to have a bit more of the dropsies in 2010. Perhaps that was just magnified due to a lack of targets? Either way, $5.2 million for one season of play out of a 32-year-old Graham (he'll turn 33 in November) with no team control beyond this season seems expensive. If so, and Graham is cut, then perhaps Legwold was correct last week in speculating that Denver needs to draft a TE - he just completely whiffed on the reasoning. However, it deserves mention that his colleague Klis did point to Graham's salary as a looming issue early last month. Hopefully he's amenable to a pay cut and will stick around...

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Schein box Lard 2-27-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! I'm not sure I've linked to Adam Schein and his waxed-but-still-hideous eyebrows since we started IAOFM, but he wrote something so ridiculous (granted, this is his specialty) yesterday that it's gotta be mentioned. After having spoken to John Elway and Brain Xanders in recent weeks, Schein writes that he "(doesn't) think (Tim) Tebow has much of a future in Denver." Frankly, it's not even worth breaking down Schein's thought process.

Why such negative feelings toward Schein? Well, aside from his horrific writing, he happens to co-host a show called "Loud Mouths" (go figure) on the Mets' TV station. Although I would never choose to watch the show (really, all they do is endeavor to live up to the show's title), the constant commercials when watching the Mets or Big East hoops are unavoidable. And sometimes while watching whatever is next on the programming schedule, I stumble into seeing the last minute or two of Schein yelling at either the camera or his co-host. It's torture, truly.

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Xanders quote-fest Lard 2-26-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! John Elway and Brain Xanders spoke to reporters at the Combine yesterday; Elway describing his first experiences with interviewing players and what he's looking for out of their game tapes. He basically said he wants defenders he would have had to have accounted for while lining up behind center, and also talked of John Fox helping seal the deal with Champ Bailey. Xanders had some real gems:

  • Regarding Champ Bailey: "There was never a question that we wouldn't have him"
  • On Lombardi's claim that there's little support at Dove Valley for Tim Tebow, presumably from Xanders and Mike McCoy: "First of all, I think that report was false...So, that report was false."
  • As for Elvis Dumervil's return: "We're dealing right now on our team with Elvis, he didn't play last year. But we anticipate that we're going to go off that '09 tape, and he had 17 sacks."
  • On his own place within the Broncos' FO: "It's a great opportunity for myself to have an expanded role."

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When will then be now? Lard 2-25-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! If ever there were proof that context is everything when it comes to quotes, yesterday was it. When asked (on February 24th) who the Broncos' starting quarterback is, John Fox launched directly into saying that there will be an open competition for the job. I mean, there was no hesitation or fumbling around - Fox said flat out that it's a free-for-all, and then tossed in that at this very moment in time, Kyle Orton's the guy. So what happens next? Why of course, every football site on the interweb says that Fox named Kyle Orton the Broncos' starting quarterback or that Tim Tebow is not the Broncos' starting quarterback. Oh, brother.

First of all, we knew Fox would say this. Elway said it, Fox now said it, and surely Brain Xanders will be next. Of course, once Tebow is named the starter in a few months, Xanders will say that he never believed Orton was the guy, and that Elway just told him what to say. Secondly, Fox later went out of his way to define "now now," sort of like this.

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Getting bigger with smaller players Lard 2-24-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Ahh, it's been a while since we got a true gem out of Legwold - but it's Combine time, so he'll be writing up a storm. Today, he covers what he deems the Broncos' biggest roster needs outside the defense's front seven. First, Legwold says John Fox likes more physical TEs and decries the Broncos' lack of a touchdown from that position in 2010. Meanwhile, the Panthers got 2 TDs out of their guys last year, who happen to be a bit smaller than Denver's current group. No mention of the fact that tight ends just don't see the ball as much in Josh McDaniels' offense - that doesn't mean they lack receiving ability. But as for physicality, are Daniel Graham and Richard Quinn really lacking in that department?

Next up, Legwold continues his "DeAngelo Williams is a bigger, tougher back who fits Fox's profile better" narrative. In case you were wondering, Williams weighs five pounds less than does Knowshon Moreno, twelve fewer than Correll Buckhalter and falls thirty pounds shy of LenDale White. But yeah, let's upsize and add durability to our RB corps by signing DeAngelo, who by the way has missed 13 games over the past two seasons (Knowshon missed 3). Finally, Legwold says the Broncos could use some help at safety (well, one out of four ain't bad) and wide receiver. Yeah, wide receiver. Even with Demaryius Thomas and Eddie Royal rehabbing from their surgeries, we're long Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney, Eric Decker, Matthew Willis, and Eron Riley has a future contract. But sure - as the Broncos supposedly move toward being more of a power running team, they should draft some more wideouts. Makes perfect sense...

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Returning Champ Lard 2-23-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Yesterday was a great day for the Broncos and their fans with new of Champ Bailey's re-signing. However, his new deal isn't quite the steal as was originally reported - in addition to the $15 million in guarantees over the contract's first two seasons, $7 million of Bailey's 2013 salary will be protected against injury, and his entire salary will become fully guaranteed five days into the 2013 league year. Champ has essentially been guaranteed $22 million, and unless the team cuts him before sometime in March of 2013, Denver will be locked into paying him $32.5 million over three seasons.

Apparently, this is what happens when a team breaks contract news instead of the normally self-serving player agents doing so - or Champ's representative Jack Reale is the most humble agent in history. With another rep involved and someone like Josina or Pasquarelli reporting, this deal would have hit the wire as having $32.5 million in guarantees. See how that works? An agent would've called it $32.5 million, the team places it at $15 million and the reality is actually $22 million - a number much closer to what I had predicted. (I went to sleep last night feeling both out of touch with NFL finances and ecstatic for the Broncos.)

Back-patting aside, this is still a good deal for Denver - just not as fantabulous as it had seemed last night. It brings back Denver's best player over the past seven seasons (and a key leader), and the Broncos have one less gaping hole to address in their defense this offseason. Plus, if Champ is indeed willing to shift over to safety at some point during this contract (as he had said earlier), the Broncos have some protection on their investment should the player lose a step.

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Tebow support? Lard 2-22-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Lombardi is again writing about a lack of support for Tim Tebow within the Broncos organization. He says that holdovers from the organization pre-John Fox are "looking to distance themselves" from the decision to draft the quarterback last year. While it has seemed (to some) so far this offseason that Lombardi was pursuing some sort of agenda (perhaps on behalf of his friend Josh McDaniels), is his assertion anything different than what we've seen out of Dove Valley these past two months? Brian Xanders has already disavowed himself of practically every move McDaniels made, while John Elway has gone a lot farther than the typical "things just didn't work out" that one would expect.

Frankly, it's not that hard to figure out who Lombardi is referring to - it must be either Xanders, Mike McCoy, or both. QB coach Adam Gase, who worked with the WRs last year? Doesn't seem likely. I know that some of our readers have taken issue with Lombardi's statements regarding Tebow, but consider his body of work. Lombardi is one of the most knowledgeable and reasonable football analysts around, and it's hard to believe his reporting on Tebow is driven by anything of a personal nature. Lombardi is no Len Pasquarelli, folks.

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