Happy Thursday, friends. Today, I want to get all thoughtful and contemplative, and consider a subject that’s creeping into NFL discussion, mostly with negative connotations. I’d like to bring some balance to the discussion.
The subject du jour (which means “of the day,” for you Europhobes,) is Jay-Z’s move toward becoming a player agent. Word is already out that DeSean Jackson has fired Drew Rosenhaus, and that he’s looking to get himself into the Roc Nation fold.
Jackson has a bit of a reputation as a me-first diva knucklehead WR, and race-baiting douchebag Mike Florio is being subtle at this point, but he already has his commenters frothing. That’s generally been the tone of coverage of Jay-Z’s foray into agenthood.
Happy Friday, friends. I was pretty interested to see the Deadspin article that ran yesterday and included a full copy of the audited financial statements of the Carolina Panthers. They presented the last two fiscal years, which ended on March 31 of 2012 and 2011, respectively, and they offer a good look at the financial position of a team that sits right in the middle of the NFL in Forbes’s valuation rankings.
I know that I always have some first-time readers, so I hope that my long-time readers will bear with me as I lay out my bona fides for addressing this topic. I have bachelors degrees in both finance and accounting, and also an MBA. I’m presently working on finishing the CPA exam, and I hope/expect to be done with it by the end of May. Additionally, I’ve been working in corporate accounting and finance for eight years, since I graduated with my first BBA.
I’m not exactly an accounting expert, but anybody would tell you that I’m a pretty solid pro, and among football writers, I’m pretty confident in where I stand as a financial analyst.
Happy Thursday, friends. In the wake of the news that Elvis Dumervil is being asked to take a pay cut, I’ve been thinking about what it might mean in a larger sense for the Broncos’ offseason plans.
I haven’t been buying the idea of the Broncos being in on Darrelle Revis, but with the team’s salary structure as it currently stands, and with the expected cuts of D.J. Williams and Joe Mays looming, I tend to view the Dumervil business as a complementary move to something big.
About five weeks ago, I wrote an article where I talked about the Broncos’ salary structure. I pointed out that Peyton Manning, Dumervil, Champ Bailey, Ryan Clady, and Von Miller account for $58 million in cap hit, which is now 47% of the Broncos salary cap. That is the primary reason that I say that the Broncos can’t accommodate another large salary.
Happy Tuesday, friends. As promised, I’m back with Part 2 of my salary cap and free agency primer. Here’s Part 1, in case you missed it. If you did, you missed the homework assignment, so read all the way down and catch up. We’ll wait.
Okay, welcome to the party. There were a lot of good ideas in the comments yesterday, and today, I’m going to describe what I would do if I ran the Broncos. The idea isn’t to reflect what they will do, in other words. It’s intellectually equivalent of my annual Rational Actor Mock Draft, which is months away from being done for 2013.
As you’ll recall from yesterday, the Broncos are now without two starting DTs, a starting and backup MLB, two backup safeties (one a key special teamer), a starting slot WR, a backup WR, a backup CB, and a backup center. (That’s just the unrestricted free agents.) We have $15.5 million of cap room to spend, after we allocate $3 million to the 2013 Draft.
Happy Monday, friends. We’re on the other side of the Pro Bowl now, with only a who-gives-a-damn Super Bowl left to go. For today, I decided to start putting together some salary cap and free agency ideas, so we can all start getting our minds around what’s to come. There’s already a bunch of speculation out there about who the Broncos should sign or trade for, and most of it is silly.
Today, we’re going to be serious, and we’re going to dismiss all of the delusions of grandeur that a lot of fans and reporters have. A football team has to plan for both the short term, as well as the long term, and the long-term planning that the Broncos face doesn’t allow for the big splash signings that get people excited.
Let’s start by doing some math, and by understanding how the Broncos currently sit structurally within the constraints of the salary cap. The cap in 2013 is expected to be around $121 million, and the Broncos currently look like they’ll have $18.5 million at the beginning of the NFL year. It’s easy to think that they can just go out and spend $18.5 million in average annual value on free agents, but it’s not that simple.
I’m a pretty calm guy, which is a development that’s taken place in my 30s. As a kid, I had an extremely bad temper, and even into my 20s, it persisted to some degree, and I was prone to outbursts, and door slamming, and the like. Around the time I got separated and divorced in 2007 and 2008, maybe somewhat as a byproduct of the whole failed marriage experience, I started to evolve into a more levelheaded person, and it’s a change I’m very pleased with.
In 2008, I also started writing about football at MHR, mostly because I had a lot of time on my hands. When I joined the staff, there were only four people on the masthead. Two of their then-writers are kind of emotional guys, given to rants and kneejerk reactions. The other two stayed more separated from what happened in the last game, or the least series, and didn’t really come from the place that a fan came from.
In fitting into that mix, one of the directions my writing took is that I’ve always tried to be dispassionate, and not let how I feel affect what I think, and what I say. I make a lot of real-time statements and observations, but they’re never emotional. You’d never see me suggest that Champ Bailey needs to retire, because he had one bad game, as a commenter or two did Saturday. There are times, when all hell breaks loose, when a voice of reason is needed, and I decided to be that guy.
To answer some questions that were in the comments of today's Lard, the Broncos play a hybrid defense, which is more akin to a 3-4 than it is to a true 4-3. You can think of it as a 3.5-3.5 if you’d like. The discussion was around whether the Broncos have featured an adequate interior pass rush from its defensive tackles, and whether the scheme actually calls for them to really rush the passer.
The Broncos use three 300-pounders on their base defensive line, in Derek Wolfe, Kevin Vickerson, and Justin Bannan. That’s why I say it’s more like a 3-4 than it is like a 4-3, because in the base running scheme, the defense is asking those three players to two-gap, and to effectively control six of the eight gaps. That’s a challenging task, and the front three for the Broncos has been consistently up to the task this year.
The two edges are manned by SLB Von Miller and open-side DE Elvis Dumervil (or Robert Ayers). Eight gaps are accounted for by five players, and that allows the ILBs (two from among Wesley Woodyard, Keith Brooking, D.J. Williams, and Danny Trevathan) to read the run play, and flow to the action. It also allows them to briefly maintain their initial depth, and avoid biting on play action.
Happy Tuesday, friends. After the shellacking that the Patriots put on the Texans last night, it’s time to take stock of both teams, since it’s likely that the Broncos will play at least one of them in the playoffs, and maybe both.
There were some noticeable things on display in the game that will be of interest to us in the coming weeks.
Here are five for each team:
Happy Wednesday, friends. Yesterday, a decent brouhaha erupted in my former stomping grounds of Cleveland, Ohio. It’s pretty widely assumed that, with the change in ownership, head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert will be let go at season’s end.
New owners like to do their own thing, and when Jimmy Haslam hired Joe Banner to be team president, he brought in a guy who is going to certainly change the structure of the organization.
Banner was very successful in Philadelphia as the guy who ran the business end of things, and who oversaw contracts, financial, and cap strategy. I would expect that will be his role in Cleveland as well, and I'm interested to see how he comes out on Shurmur and Heckert, both of whom he knew from Philadelphia. If the Philly rumor mill is to be believed, the organization wasn't all that sad to see Heckert leave for Cleveland when he did, and that would seem to match the color of the smoke that's now coming out of the chimney.
Happy Thursday, friends. In typical salaried-employee fashion, as I prepare to go on vacation Friday, I’m scrambling to do eight days of work in four days this week. As such, my writing time has been a bit limited, but I want to share some quick thoughts today about team expectations and the stupidity of reporters.
One of my favorite drums to beat is that the NFL is a complex and dynamic system, where the facts of yesterday become the “not so much” of today. I laugh every year as the John Claytons of the world, and also his imitators, attempt to forecast the NFL in the preseason.
Usually, this takes two forms: the dumber ones, like Clayton himself, will tend to predict that about 10 of the 12 teams that made the playoffs the year before will do so again, and that two other teams which had hyped draft or free agent classes will also get into the mix. The smarter ones will note that on average, only 7 of 12 teams tend to make the playoffs in back-to-back years, and they’ll try to find the 10 teams that they think are mostly likely to move up and down in class.