The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

Mr. Manning departs Indianapolis Lard 3-7-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The Colts are holding a press conference today at noon ET to announce the release of some guy named Peyton Manning. Manning flew into town last night with Jim Irsay on the Colts owner's private jet, and he will become a free agent as soon as the Colts release him.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is apparently still enamored with the idea of signing Manning; the Jets will consider adding the QB despite the presence of the Sanchize, although some within the organization figure Peyton would prefer to avoid the Jets' circus act. Arizona is considered a possible suitor, although they must decide whether to keep Kevin Kolb by St. Patrick's Day, when he's due a $7M roster bonus. Of course, everyone figures Shanny & Co. will be in on Peyton as well; Seattle has been mentioned as a potential landing spot, and of course Romeo Crennel made it clear the Chiefs are interested too.

Meanwhile, Jerry Rice thinks the Niners should go after Manning, whose Colts teammates are dreading his release even though they knew it was coming.

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The Daily Lard 3-6-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Pittsburgh's decision not to tag Mike Wallace means any team can ink the 25-year-old wideout to a deal the cap-strapped Steelers are presumably unable to match, with only a first-round pick going back as compensation. Of course, this would be quite the bargain for most teams when considering Wallace's young age and exceptional skills, especially if they happen to pick late in this year's first round, like the Broncos, Patriots, and Niners do.

Mike Tanier thinks Denver's abundance of cap space and their need for a playmaking receiver who gets himself open regardless of scheme makes the Broncos a perfect fit for Wallace. Tanier points to Wallace's terrific numbers on screens and bombs as a perfect complement for Tim Tebow's abilities, and he also envisions Denver utilizing Wallace on plenty of end arounds. Sounds like a no-brainer - who wouldn't be happy with Wallace as Denver's 2012 first-round choice? No matter who the QB is long-term in Denver, Wallace would potentially be his immediate favorite target, with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker suddenly finding a lot more room to roam.

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The Daily Lard 3-5-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Freeman is hearing that Roger Goodell will penalize the Saints for their bounty system with an even heavier hand than he used with the Patriots over Spygate. Freeman suspects that New Orleans GM Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton are likely to face suspensions and hefty fines, and for the team to lose at least a first-round draft choice.

Why such severe punishment when players Freeman spoke to estimated that 30-40% of the league's players (does this mean almost every team, since only defensive players appear to have employed bounties?) were party to a bounty system last season? After all, it's a bit too late to simply make an example of the Saints and pretend the problem doesn't span the league.

However, a current player told Freeman that bounties have been rendered less effective by the rules meant to protect offensive players (Anyone still dismissing the need for those? Didn't think so), and the Saints appear to stand out for having institutionalized the system, as Freeman puts it. That the head coach and general manager were aware of the system and even condoned it is another strike against them.

But the guess here is this scandal will grow bigger and take down more names before the Commish metes out his punishment.

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The Daily Lard 3-4-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As we'd figured, Willis McGahee's firing of agent Drew Rosenhaus served as an indication that the RB is unhappy with his 2012 salary. According to Mike Klis, the Broncos told Rosenhaus they would not renegotiate McGahee's deal, a four-year $9.5M contract signed just last summer. The 30-year-old running back was a bargain by any measure in 2011, racking up 1,250 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns for just a $1M salary and $2M signing bonus. McGahee is due a $2M salary in 2012 and will count for $2.5M against the cap; Klis says Willis has no plans to hold out, but it's also only March. Then again, how much leverage does a 30-year-old back have? Not much.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have until tomorrow to lock up kicker Matt Prater to a new long-term deal or use their franchise tag on him, which would result in a $2.6M salary for 2012. Here's guessing the two sides would still pursue a lengthier contract if Denver ends up tagging the 27-year-old kicker.

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The Daily Lard 3-3-12

Good Afternoon, Broncos fans! The biggest NFL news in quite some time hit yesterday - that the Saints defense under the direction of former DC and momentary Denver head-coaching candidate Gregg Williams (and mentor to recent Broncos DC and new Oakland head man Dennis Allen) employed a bounty system funded mainly by players to reward each other for knocking out opposing players and forcing them to be carted off the field, along with less-nefarious goals like creating turnovers and scoring touchdowns.

Who else put cash into this system? A felon not employed by the team, but with a direct line of communication to Saints coach Sean Payton.

Williams, who rejoined his old boss Jeff Fisher (when both were with the Titans) in St. Louis to run the Rams defense, issued a statement yesterday acknowledging the program and taking full responsibility for it. The league's investigation found the bounty system existed throughout Williams' three-year tenure in New Orleans; as could be expected, the Redskins defense employed a similar system while the well-traveled Williams was coordinating their defense. Joe Gibbs, his boss in Washington, is claiming ignorance.

It's worth noting that between Williams's stints in Washington and New Orleans, he spent the 2008 season running the Jaguars defense for new Denver DC Jack Del Rio, then Jacksonville's head coach. As for Williams' first stint with Fisher in Tennessee, ex-Titans safety Blaine Bishop claims there was no bounty system.

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The Daily Lard 3-2-12

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! The jury in Perrish Cox's rape trial failed to reach agreement on a verdict yesterday, and they will resume deliberations today.

As Mike Florio sees it, this extended discussion is likely a bad sign for the prosecution, especially following such a brief trial short on facts and testifying witnesses. But, Florio stresses that a potential acquittal of Cox would point to the strength of our judicial system in not providing convictions in the absence of conclusive evidence and/or testimony.

A Lone Tree detective testified that while in a holding cell, Cox posed the following query to explain his accuser's pregnancy:

What if she jumped on me when I was passed out?

For what it's worth, Mike Klis thinks the prosecuting attorney is a low talker.

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The Daily Lard 3-1-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The more we learn about the Perrish Cox rape trial, the worse it gets. According to the testimony of Demaryius Thomas, Cox had carried the unconscious alleged victim into a bedroom before suggesting she was "ready" for sex. Thomas testified that he took Cox's words to mean the woman was "ready" for Thomas, not for Cox; hopefully that's the truth, and Thomas didn't walk out with the knowledge that Cox was planning to take advantage of the woman. From NFL.com:

"I wanted to have sex with her but I didn't," Thomas testified. "We hadn't done nothing before. I wasn't going to try nothing that night because she had been drinking. She had got drunk."

Cassius Vaughn is expected to add his testimony today as another witness for the prosecution.

Mike Klis finds it noteworthy that Thomas and Wesley Woodyard both were interested in the same woman (the alleged victim), and he led off his blog entry with "Boys will be boys." No matter the intent of the words - and he's referring to romantic interest, not the alleged rape - that is a remarkably poor choice of words.

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The Daily Lard 2-29-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Opening statements were given yesterday as the Perrish Cox rape trial began; Cox's lawyer, Harvey Steinberg, made it a point to stress that the alleged victim was interested in Demaryius Thomas rather than Cox on the night of the alleged assault. Of course, this wouldn't appear to matter much since a DNA test showed that the victim's subsequent pregnancy was fathered by Cox. But, he's the professional defense attorney, so he must have his reasons.

It is expected that Thomas will end up testifying as a witness for the prosecution, and there's a possibility that Cassius Vaughn and Wesley Woodyard will testify as well. Something tells me we're going to learn a few things about these players that will make us like them at least a little bit less. In the immortal words of Bart Scott, CAN'T WAIT!

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The Daily Lard 2-28-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! A pair of 40-yard dash runs have made headlines the past couple of days: one for good reason, and the other not so much. Yesterday was all about Memphis DT Dontari Poe, who put up a Combine-leading 44 reps on the bench press and then ran the 40 in an unofficial 4.87 seconds with a 1.70-second 10-yard split. Crazy part? The guy is 6-foot-4 and weighs THREE-HUNDRED FORTY-SIX POUNDS. That's 346 lbs moving 40 yards in under five seconds.

Obviously, Will Brinson has Poe among his winners from Monday's happenings in Indy, and Bucky Brooks says Poe's performance will vault him into the draft's top twenty. Jeff Legwold says the Broncos were already discussing Poe before yesterday, but he too thinks the mammoth athlete will be gone before Denver's pick at #25.

As for the less impressive 40, that was posted by Mississippi State RB Vick Ballard, who had the misfortune of tripping during his run and plowing into a camera tripod. Okay, maybe plowing is a bit strong, but you get the picture. Unfortunately, Ballard's official time (4.63 seconds) on his next run wasn't much better.

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The Daily Lard 2-27-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It's hard to tell whether it was fueled by some inside knowledge, or whether he's just pulling a Woody, but Mike Klis wrote yesterday afternoon that Brian Dawkins is "expected to retire". The blog entry even has a headline that proclaims Denver will acquire a hard-hitting safety to replace Dawkins this offseason, and Klis even suggests that former Pats first-rounder Brandon Meriweather is a possible target.

Now, it's certainly not a stretch to presume that Dawk will retire, as that possibility was first floated by the DP a couple months back when he suffered the neck injury which prevented him from playing beyond the Broncos' Week 16 loss at Buffalo. But it was only yesterday we read again that Dawkins is still considering a return to Denver for one more season.

So who exactly who expects Dawkins to retire, and who says the Broncos will undoubtedly acquire a "safety who can thump"? The entire Denver FO? John Elway? Brian Xanders? The cook at Dove Valley? Mike Klis? Because it's not anywhere close to clear from how Klis wrote it, and the insertion of the word likely in the headline and in the stead of expected within the piece would have done wonders. Here we are again, parsing words because someone didn't do their job correctly.

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