The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

Yesterday’s Broncos news, brought to you by AXE™ Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Not to be too cynical, but interesting that Von Miller's SB guarantee came just hours in advance of him making the rounds and visiting with Mark KiszlaMatt UffordPFT Live, and NFLN, all the while promoting AXE™, wouldn't you say?

Granted, it's really cool that Von tied it into the story of his cousin Jeremiah (our thoughts are with you, little buddy), and we appreciate that he answered our question at the 21-minute mark of his livecast with Ufford, but there's no way it was, shall we say, an organic guarantee (not that it really matters).

Of course, there's no telling that to the morons who comment on this stuff.

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PMFM is not a deep thrower? Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Klis maintains the Broncos will likely place a second-round tender on Britton Colquitt, which would mean a one-year contract worth $2.023M.

Added to Matt Prater's $2.5M salary and $3,312,500 cap number, that's $4.523M in pay, and $5,335,500 in cap dollars - 4.3% of the cap - for two kickers who are aided by altitude for half of their games.

Pretty ridiculous, although at least Colquitt ranks among the league's better punters (fourth in net average in 2012), whereas Prater is one of its least accurate kickers (27th in 2011, 26th in 2012).

But none of this is anywhere near as incredible as the $8.9M in guarantees (!) paid Britton's older brother Dustin by the Chiefs, as part of a five-year, $18.75M deal (!!).

We just have to hope Britton doesn't have designs on being the highest paid player in his family. Granted, the team's gross overpayment of Prater doesn't exactly provide us much hope..

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Broncos to trade (LOL) or cut D.J. Williams Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! You've read it here countless times, but it's finally confirmed: D.J. Williams is done as a Bronco.

According to Mike Klis, Denver will attempt to trade D.J. and his $6M salary, and if when they're unable to do so, they'll cut him prior to April 15, which is apparently the first day of the offseason conditioning program.

Williams is owed no guarantees, but is set to count for $8,082,500 against Denver's cap this season. Any team that would trade for him would assume the non-guaranteed $6M salary, and the Broncos will be left with $2,082,500 in dead cap space whether they cut or trade him.

At this point, the Broncos are hoping against hope that they'll get a seventh-rounder in the 2030 Draft, if it's even possible to trade a pick that far out (we're not sure).

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Who would replace Clady? Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Now that Denver has gone the non-exclusive route to tag Ryan Clady (as we'd suggested they do), it's time to start considering potential replacements for the unlikely scenario in which another team signs him away.

Denver would receive two first-round picks as compensation, should they choose not to match an offer sheet from another team. At this point, only Washington lacks a first-rounder, so a Shanny and Clady reunion is not a possibility (Shanny could trade for a first-rounder, but he already has a fine tackle in Trent Williams, anyway).

Bengals right tackle Andre Smith will surely reach free agency, as Cincy opted to use its tag on DE Michael Johnson, while New England is not expected to tag right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, whom Ted saw as a left tackle just a couple of years ago.

FWIW, Smith tied Clady for the fourth-best grade among tackles in 2012 according to PFF (+26.9), while Vollmer ranked 13th (+21.5). Both Smith and Vollmer allowed far more sacks and hurries than Clady did, but that can partially be explained by the Manning factor (less so in Vollmer's case, since the guy he blocks for is pretty good)

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Ravens give Flacco biggest deal in NFL history; five players tagged

Now that the combine is over, and the 2013 league year is approaching, the NFL offseason is starting to heat up.

Teams have until 4pm ET on Monday to apply their franchise tags, and eight days later, at 4pm ET on Tuesday, March 12, the league calendar will flip, opening the trade and free agent markets.

At that hour, teams will have to have exercised any options, submitted offers to restricted free agents, and minimum-salary tenders to exclusive rights free agents, and most importantly, be compliant under the Top-51 salary cap figure, which will sit at $123M.

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Would Osweiler be top-ten pick? Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! CU tight end Nick Kasa caused quite a stir when he said an NFL team had asked him about his sexuality during a combine interview.

To nobody's surprise, Kasa wasn't the only one subjected to such inappropriate questioning. Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell says he was peppered with the same bizarre queries, prompting the NFLPA to suggest teams be punished for these alleged illegal employment tactics.

According to NFLN's Albert Breer, two team executives admitted that given the opportunity to ask Manti Te'o one question, it would be about whether he's straight or gay. Because, you know...THIS MATTERS.

Meanwhile, the league's most outspoken supporters for gay rights, Ravens LB Brendon Ayanbadejo and Vikings P Chris Kluwe, filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court (as did the Justice Department) in an effort to strike down California's same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8.

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Drafting well is cap health necessity Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As a fascinating exercise, PFF has been measuring the graded value of players relative to the salaries they earned in 2012. Today, they're covering the Broncos.

Von Miller, Chris Harris, Demaryius Thomas, Rahim Moore, Orlando Franklin, and Eric Decker lead the way among underpaid players, with Wesley Woodyard, Brandon Stokley, Tony Carter, and Zane Beadles rounding out that group.

Elvis Dumervil is seen as having the most bloated salary, but as Ted illustrates so well, it's important to consider Elvis's role within the defense when assessing his play and value.

Chris Kuper, Tracy Porter, Joe Mays, Ty Warren, and D.J. Williams are more obviously overpaid relative to performance, while Champ Bailey, Peyton Manning, Robert Ayers, and Willis McGahee round out the mandatory remaining spots on the ten-player list.

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Piling on Rahim Moore Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mark Kiszla says he can't forgive Rahim Moore his season-costing mistake against Baltimore, and he thinks the Broncos should find a pricey replacement for him in free agency.

The Denver front office likely feels a bit differently, given that the 2011 second-rounder showed vast improvement during his sophomore campaign, which followed his first full offseason (the lockout had shortened his preparation for the 2011 season).

While Moore will stand out for eternity as the most obvious scapegoat for the divisional-round stunner, plenty others deserve blame, including Champ Bailey, Chris Kuper, Matt Prater, Tony Carter, John Fox, and to a degree, Peyton Manning.

We can only hope that one play will neither serve to define Moore's career, nor determine his Denver fate.

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Tom Brady is the real ultimate teammate Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Peyton Manning may be (almost) everyone's ultimate quarterback, but Tom Brady is the ultimate teammate, and he's again proven that with his latest contract extension.

Brady and the Patriots agreed to a three-year deal worth an eye-poppingly low $27M (total, not per year), which will keep him under New England's control through the 2017 season.

The remarkable contract is a reprise of the one Brady signed in 2005, which at the time valued the three-time SB winner at two-thirds of what Indy had given Manning a year earlier ($9.55M vs $14.2M).

Now of course, Brady will get more guaranteed cash out of the deal, else the NFLPA would never allow it be consummated.

But the result for New England is that they'll have substantially more cap room, which they can use to either add more veteran free agents, or potentially retain their own key ones, including Wes Welker.

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Broncos looking at Gronk-free 2013 Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver currently has four players set to become restricted free agents, while two others are exclusive rights free agents who are stuck at the league minimum.

The latter two are Tony Carter and Mitch Unrein, who will definitely be back with Denver, at salaries we believe will be $715K and $480K, respectively, provided our reading of their accrued seasons is correct.

As for the restricted free agents, Mike Klis speculates the team will use a second-round tender on Britton Colquitt, which would be worth a $2.023M salary and a massive raise for the punter (he made $540K in 2012), and compensation of a second-round pick from any team that tries to sign him away, provided Denver opts not to match.

Klis reports the team will likely let fullback Chris Gronkowski walk; Chris was acquired from Indy a year ago in exchange for reserve corner and kick returner Cassius Vaughn. Try not to be confused, but Chris's brother Dan had been acquired by Denver in exchange for reserve corner and draft bust Alphonso Smith; Dan is currently on the Browns.

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