2013 League Year Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! If you're new to the NFL, and just figuring out what makes it so great, today's as fine a reason as we have in support of that. Here we are, just five weeks after the Super Bowl, and the Ravens' title is already a distant memory.

For the 31 teams whose seasons ended unhappily, 4pm ET today is when they truly get down to the business of improving their rosters in significant ways. The league calendar flips, 2012 contracts expire, and trades and free agent signings begin in earnest.

Thanks to the salary cap, the league's massive TV contracts, and yes, revenue sharing (yet another example of how these supposed red-blooded capitalist owners are really a bunch of soshulists), the NFL offers the truest parity of any major American sports league. The smallest market teams can sometimes make the biggest moves, and excitement abounds.

Now, we'll hear over and again that teams don't win by opening their checkbooks.

That's often true, and especially so with the biggest of spenders (Dan Snyder, Jerry Jones), but Denver's signing of Peyton Manning stands as a stark exception to that maxim. Even if the Broncos didn't win it all in 2012, they turned themselves from a rebuilding franchise with endless perceived holes, into a SB contender, and that was largely due to the biggest free agent signing in history.

357 days later, the Broncos are overdogs, but their cap space is growing (to around $10M now including David Bruton's deal), and figures to double if/when Elvis Dumervil and Joe Mays are released.

So, what will Denver do with this infusion of cap dollars? Let's see what Mike Klis has to say:

  1. Marty Magid represents both Dumervil and D.J. Williams, so he had two reasons to speak with them yesterday. But there's been no progress between the Broncos and Elvis, which should surprise nobody.
  2. While the team wants to re-sign Kevin Vickerson, they've not yet done so, because he's seeking a bigger raise than they're offering. Keep in mind that Big Vick accepted a massive pay cut (from $2.25M to $1.2M) to stick around last year, and then performed quite well, albeit on only 537 snaps.

    However you cut it, he was underpaid in 2012. Does he feel like the Broncos owe him now, and do they agree? We're about to find out, but as always, try to envision yourself in his shoes and consider the context of last year's 46.7% pay cut before blaming Vickerson.

    What do you suppose are the chances that John Elway (or whomever) told Vick that if he took the 2012 pay cut and performed well, that he'd have a raise coming his way in 2013?
  3. Bruton's deal is for three years and $4.5M; no word on the breakdown, but his cap number is likely between $1.25M and $1.5M (figure a $1M signing bonus).
  4. Denver's been in touch with Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall, Jags DT Terrance Knighton (who was drafted by Jack Del Rio and played under him for three years), and Eagles CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Broncos

Mike Florio is hearing that Peyton has made clear that he wants the team to sign his old friend Dwight Freeney.

According to Jeff Legwold, the team doesn't expect any compensatory picks this year. Oh, and apparently four starters out of the 2010 Draft isn't good enough (four of the five guys no longer with the team were taken in the fifth round or later, and the fifth, of course, is Tim Tebow).

Andrew Mason figures the team will pick up an undrafted QB to be the third-stringer, because what veteran would want to sit behind Manning and Brock Osweiler?

David Bruton says he's happy to be staying in Denver, and he's well aware that it's on the merit of his special teams play (video).

Now that Peyton is back from his USO tour, Von Miller and Champ Bailey are heading out on their own.

News

There was an erroneous report put out last night that Greg Toler had re-signed with the Cardinals. The corner, who has reportedly drawn interest from Denver, will reach free agency today.

RB Jonathan Dwyer has already signed his second-round restricted tender with the Steelers, presumably forgoing free agency because Mendenhall is likely done in Pittsburgh.

Baltimore has reportedly agreed to a new two-year deal with WR and special teamer David Reed.

Gil Brandt reports on the pro days of Central Michigan, Washington State, and Grand Valley State.

A book tour by Michael Vick has been canceled due to threats against Vick and bookstore employees.

Rumors

Florio thinks Reggie Bush is headed to Detroit.

Niners safety Dashon Goldson reportedly has four suitors: San Francisco, Detroit, Tampa Bay, and Philly.

The Eagles are reportedly also interested in LOLJets safety Laron Landry.

San Diego reportedly hosted Eric Winston on Monday, is interested in Jags corner Derek Cox and Colts corner Jerraud Powers, and is hoping to re-sign guard Louis Vasquez, NT Aubrayo Franklin, and DE Vaughn Martin.

Analysis

Bill Barnwell says the labor issues of the past few years have resulted in veteran free agents going for much cheaper prices than they might have in the past. Especially when considering the names linked to Denver (ie. Freeney, Umenyiora) and the contracts they'll likely command (think $4M-5M/year), this week should serve to prove his point quite well.

Jason discusses the cap implications of yesterday's AFC and NFC moves.

Mike Freeman thinks Percy Harvin will continue to be a pain in the ass in Seattle; Mike Silver says the Seahawks/Niners rivalry is growing; Don Banks says acquiring Harvin is just another bold move by a bold team; Vikings fan Drew Magary is somewhat less than pleased by the news.

You know who's going to be licking their chops when Harvin and Mike Wallace get whatever stupid contracts they're about to get? Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and their agents, that's who. FWIW, Bucky Brooks thinks Greg Jennings is a better player than Wallace, and will be seen in retrospect as the gem of this free agent class.

Jason Cole says there's plenty of talent available at cornerback in the free agent market, and he lists his 20 worst signings of the first 20 years of free agency (whither Dale Carter?).

Jarrett Bell sees an underwhelming free agent class; Nate Davis lists his top 50 free agents, but doesn't see the Broncos as the best fit for any of them.

Chase Stuart puts the greatness of Dolphins HOF WR Paul Warfield in the context of the era in which he played.

Will Brinson has the Broncos going with Texas A&M DE Damontre Moore at #28 in his latest mock; Pete Prisco has them getting Alabama DT Jesse Williams there, while Clark Judge says it's Bama RB Eddie Lacy. Riveting stuff, truly.

Christmas Ape interprets PK's MMQB and offers a hilarious (frightening?) look at a young, fro-tastic PK.

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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