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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Broncos re-sign Champ Bailey

John Elway has announced via Twitter that the Broncos have agreed to a new contract with Champ Bailey:

We are thrilled to announce that the Broncos have agreed to terms on a new four-year contract with cornerback Champ Bailey. Champ is truly one of the NFL's elite players, a 10-time Pro Bowler who is playing at the absolute highest level. The commitment and loyalty that Champ has shown to the Broncos, the city of Denver and this region is exemplary. We're fortunate to have Champ with the Broncos for a long time. This is a GREAT day for our entire organization and our fans.

According to the Denver Post, Bailey has given the Broncos what is quite clearly a hometown discount - only $15 million is guaranteed over the life of the four-year deal. He will receive a guaranteed $11 million salary in 2011, with $4 million of his 2012 compensation guaranteed. Frankly, this is a stunningly favorable deal for the team which Bailey has been a part of for seven seasons now. The retention of the 10-time Pro Bowl cornerback promises Denver some stability at a position that was suddenly looking thin considering the legal issues of rookie Perrish Cox and the until-now murky status of Bailey.

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Fat Camp: Defensive fronts, Part II

After exploring the basics of the 3-4 options in last week's Fat Camp, today we’ll take a tour of the basics of the 4-3 options. This is the direction that John Fox will take Denver’s D - a zone-coverage dominant, bend-don’t-break approach that requires the offense to do the right thing over and over in order to gain territory, and that prevents the big plays that have killed Denver’s chances over the past two years. While some of that has been the lack of a running game or a ball control offense (as well as the offense's struggles in the red zone) to protect the D, the defense has been dropping to the bottom of the league for some seasons now. Having reached that final level of futility, I look for Denver to make a lot of changes over the next two years. One will be the move to a 4-3. 

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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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Talegating: History of the NFL Draft, Part 1

As we prepare for the upcoming draft, it's worth looking back to discover the history of the event, which is intricately tied to the birth and development of the league, and its attempts to deal with salaries, eligibility and team building. Over the next several weeks, I'm going to offer a partial history of the patterns and practices of the NFL Draft that will touch on those issues, as well as those of the practice of scouting, team success and even the beginnings of the computer age, each of which has played its own role in the history of the league. Come along with me as I stroll back into the past, to a time before the Great Depression, when an organization changed its name and became a national institution that would endure, flourish and grow over the next 90-plus years into the remarkable entity we know as the National Football League.

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Extra Mayock Lard 2-21-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Toni Monkovic of the Times posted a lengthy interview with NFLN's Mike Mayock regarding the upcoming draft, and there's plenty of fascinating insight from Mayock. Of interest to us, he says that Cam Newton has better throwing mechanics than Tim Tebow, but of course the questions are whether he can handle an NFL playbook. Later on, Mayock states that the most important characteristic of a quarterback is not his physical ability, but his aptitude in understanding the complexities of a nuanced NFL offense and in reading defenses. He then points to a quick release, good feet and an athletic body, in that order of import. One has to think after reading this of Josh McDaniels and his praise for Tebow when he drafted the quarterback - the Broncos' former coach spoke most glowingly about Tebow's ability to quickly retain and recall terminology, much more so than about any of the QB's physical traits.

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Glitch Lard 2-20-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! We performed an upgrade of our system for the site yesterday, and unfortunately it was a bit buggy at first. As many of you discovered the hard way, commenting was disabled for a good chunk of the day; it was fixed last night. Thanks for bearing with it, and we're sorry for the annoyance and inconvenience of it all. Naturally, we can't quite promise that this sort of thing will never happen, but we'll always try to keep it to a minimum. Anytime you experience a problem with the site, please let us know via the "Contact" button atop the page (Thanks, Orange and Blue for the heads up yesterday).

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More about Robert Ayers

On Tuesday, one of our readers said that he felt Robert Ayers’ low sack production to date means that he shouldn’t have been drafted in the first round.  He opined that the reason people seem to imply or call Ayers a flat-out bust is this supposed over-drafting.

I have some problems with this thinking, and I decided to focus on it today.  I don’t blame the commenter, and I’m not picking on him or her.  Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, and my purpose today is to explain my own.

I didn’t love the Ayers pick when the Broncos drafted him 18th overall in 2009.  I also didn’t love the Knowshon Moreno choice six picks prior, and of course, I did love the Alphonso Smith pick in the second round.  Obviously, my opinions have changed over time on all three.  Moreno is on his way to being an outstanding all-around RB, Smith really isn’t very good at all, and Ayers is the best player of the three.

Somehow, somewhere along the way, I became Ayers’ biggest supporter in the Broncos internet world.  I feel like I should explain myself.  As a member of the Fat Man team, you should be used to me saying that the best way to win football games is to pass the ball down the field, and to stop other teams from doing so. 

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Bunting says Broncos leaning towards Bowers

NFP's Wes Bunting tweeted the following this morning:

Hearing the Broncos are starting to lean more toward DE Da'Quan Bowers with that number 2 pick, move to 43, he makes perfect sense

In a followup tweet, Bunting wrote,

Got to think the Broncos would look Fairley at 2, if Bowers is gone, got to put together their 4-3 front

Cycle of snubs Lard 2-19-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Over at the NFP, Dan Pompei continues his defense of the HOF selection process; he likes Mike Lombardi's suggestion that voters watch some game film together. He brings up a funny point (not sure he meant it to be so) - as Ted often states, the fact alone that football writers get to vote on awards and on HOF entrance devalues the legitimacy of the HOF and all player awards, especially Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections. Back to Pompei - he says that so many people spend time panning the Pro Bowl votes for who got snubbed, and then when it comes time for the HOF, guys like Richard Dent are called unworthy because they didn't make enough Pro Bowls. It's just an endless cycle. But what about this? Dent and his four Pro Bowl selections made the HOF, but Karl Mecklenburg and his six Pro Bowls plus three All-Pro selections, Randy Gradishar and his seven Pro Bowls and two All-Pros, and Steve Atwater and his eight Pro Bowls and two All-Pro choices are barely in the discussion.

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