Prime Cuts

Slices of great NFL content from around the web

Urlacher retiring; had been pre-draft favorite of Broncos fans in 2000

Urlacher retiring from NFL
espn.go.com

“After spending a lot of time this spring thinking about my NFL future, I have made a decision to retire,” Urlacher said in a statement he posted on Twitter. “Although I could continue playing, I’m not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that’s up to my standards. When considering this along with the fact I could retire after a 13-year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear.”

Denver ended up trading down from the #10 pick prior to the 2000 Draft, and the athletic freak went at #9 to Chicago, much to the disappointment of Broncos fans everywhere. Baltimore took WR Travis Taylor with Denver's old pick (oops), while the Broncos took Deltha O'Neal with Baltimore's (oops).

Mark Kiszla and others called for Denver to go after Urlacher this offseason, and a Chicago gossip columnist reported that they had talked to him, but it was never to be (and we're glad for that).

Chargers add Starks, haven’t yet ruled out Ingram

Chargers land LT Max Starks
www.utsandiego.com

The Chargers waived Kevin Haslam, a three-game starter at left tackle in 2012. On the same day, free agent Max Starks donned a Chargers avatar on his verified Twitter account and announced he was joining the team.

With Pittsburgh, Starks faced Denver (with Elvis Dumervil) in back-to-back games - the 2011 WC game, and the 2012 opener, and PFF has Starks down for having allowed one sack, three hits, six hurries, and a cumulative grade of minus-6.9. In other words, just the kind of guy the Broncos want to see twice a year.

Meanwhile, the Chargers are reportedly holding out hope that Melvin Ingram can recover quickly enough from his ACL tear to have an impact on the 2013 season.

Klis: Von Miller a mere “near superstar”

Nate Irving to get "first crack" at Broncos' spot at middle linebacker
www.denverpost.com

The Broncos defense improved dramatically each of the past two years in large part because strongside linebacker Von Miller performed at a near superstar level.

In next week's DP mailbag, Mike Klis explains which NFL players are superstars, given that Von Miller is apparently not among them.

Broncos gave McCray third-largest bonus of all 2013 UDFA’s

Patriots, Cowboys and Rams spent the most guaranteed money on undrafted rookie free agents
sports.yahoo.com

The largest signing bonus issued to an undrafted rookie this year belongs to UNLV linebacker John Lotulelei, who received $25,000 to sign with the Seattle Seahawks. Boston College offensive tackle Emmett Cleary received $20,000 to sign with the Indianapolis Colts, while Florida linebacker Lerentee McCray was third on the list with a $17,500 signing bonus from the Denver Broncos.

Granted, that's still peanuts in the NFL, and won't factor into whether Lerentee makes Denver's 53-man roster. If nothing else, it's an indication that the Broncos weren't alone in liking McCray's prospects, and that he heard good enough things from the Denver front office about his chances of making the squad.

SB 50 to San Francisco; SB 51 to Houston

Super Bowl L awarded to San Francisco; LI to Houston
www.nfl.com

NFL owners voted Tuesday at the NFL Spring Meeting to award Super Bowl L in 2016 to San Francisco. The game will be played in the 49ers’ new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California…

A vote was then taken by the owners on whether to award Super Bowl LI to Houston or South Florida. Reliant Stadium, which hosted XXXVIII between the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers in 2004, won the bid for the 2017 game.

To be clear, these are the Super Bowls that follow the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Will one of them be the site of an Elway-like ride into the sunset for one Peyton Manning?

Denver, of course, is bidding to host one of the three Super Bowls that follow the one in Houston.

Prisco: Broncos are May overdogs

Power Rankings: Loaded Broncos are the favorites, like it or not
www.cbssports.com

The only concern moving forward is the other pass rusher opposite Von Miller. Can Shaun Phillips, Robert Ayers and others replace Elvis Dumervil?

It's nice to see someone describe the task of replacing Elvis as more than just Ayers's responsibility.

Reminder: Rahim Moore was really good in 2012

Secret Superstar: Rahim Moore
www.profootballfocus.com

A year after spending some Sundays as a healthy scratch, Moore played more snaps in 2012 than any other Broncos defender. Often lining up deep as Denver’s last line of defense, Moore allowed just 0.46 Yards Per Coverage Snap and surrendered a first down or touchdown on only 1.64% of his snaps. At the same time, he frequently showed the speed and instincts to provide support against backfield screens. And when he got to the point of attack, he sealed the deal.

After amassing 11 missed tackles in 43 attempts in 2011 (including the playoffs), Moore had just eight in 96 attempts in 2012. Amazingly, he’d transformed himself from one of the worst-tackling safeties in the league into one of the best. And with a +9.0 grade in the regular season that tied for the 10th-highest of any safety, he was one of the more promising young defenders in the league. This would have been the lasting image of Moore heading into the upcoming season, except for the outcome of one play.

We're obviously not done hearing about that play, and frankly, it will continiue to be a sore spot no matter how many SB titles potentially follow it (Michael Dean Perry, you're still not off the hook). But Rahim Moore is just 23 years old, and there's no reason to think he can't live up to his pre-draft billing, if he hasn't already.

Kuper, Walton not expected to practice until training camp

OTAs Day One Practice Takeaways
www.denverbroncos.com

In terms of personnel, the offensive line isn’t yet up to speed. Chris Kuper and J.D. Walton were among the players who were outside, but not practicing. Neither are expected back before training camp, but Walton’s presence with the offensive line group during drills was a positive sight.

Safety Quinton Carter and rookie defensive end Quanterus Smith were also on hand, but limited to watching and working out. Carter, who is recovering from microfracture surgery, ran laps around an adjacent practice field.

That is, if Kuper is still around, and as we've noted countless times, we're not expecting him to be, given his $4.5M salary for 2013.

Also from Mason's excellent post is the disconcerting note that Trindon Holliday still hasn't kicked his fumbling problem. Is that why Wes Welker was fielding punts during his first Broncos practice? Is he the new Jim Leonhard?

Klis: Broncos were close to deal with Woodson last week, are still hopeful

Peyton Manning, Broncos return for offseason practices
www.denverpost.com

Woodson visited the Broncos’ headquarters last Wednesday and the two sides appeared close on finalizing a deal when negotiations hit a snag. Woodson is scheduled to visit the Oakland Raiders on Tuesday but the Broncos are still hopeful they can sign him.

Meanwhile, current safety Rahim Moore had a fun Monday, having to answer questions about both the Baltimore game and the possibility of having to compete with Woodson.

Of course, we don't see Woodson as a threat, but rather a potential complement to Rahim, so perhaps those were just uninformed queries?

Broncos 2nd in PED bans since 2010, but does it really mean anything?

Seahawks' lead in PED bans under Carroll
espn.go.com

Seven other teams have incurred three or four substance-abuse suspensions for PEDs over that span, including the Denver Broncos and New York Giants with four apiece, according to STATS PASS. The San Francisco 49ers are among 10 teams with zero…

...NFL policy requires annual testing for steroids and related substances when training camps begin or whenever a player reports to the team after camps begin. Preseason and regular-season protocol calls for 10 players per team to be tested at random each week. That protocol continues into the postseason for playoff teams. Players under contract can be tested up to six times during an offseason, subject to increases following a positive test.

This is one of those statistics that means very little, since four bans is hardly different than three bans, which would have put the Broncos in a tie with five other teams and behind the Giants; further, what this statistic doesn't get at is the number of guys using PEDs who simply haven't been caught, which is probably huge, at least according to former players.  Does this stat mean the Broncos are just worse at masking their PED use?

Maybe Greek just needs to do a better job of masking the bottle colors of urine samples.