Denver Broncos News: Horse Tracks - 2/16/11

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Contract negotiations resume between Broncos, Bailey - The Denver Post
ontract negotiations between the Broncos and star cornerback Champ Bailey have resumed. "He's a guy we have strong feelings about," coach John Fox said. "We've had some dialogue there. There have been discussions. "He's a guy we definitely want to bring back. You never know how things like that work out, but we're moving forward as best we know how."

NFL.com news: Broncos' move to 4-3 defense will dictate busy offseason
3. Who will be man in the middle? Let's assume Elvis Dumervil returns to defensive end in the new scheme as does Robert Ayers. Both were college 4-3 ends and I'm sure Fox evaluated them coming out in the draft. The team will need a true middle linebacker or a strong-side linebacker. Fox converted a safety, Thomas Davis, in Carolina and that worked out well prior to his injury. Oregon's Casey Matthews and Washington's Mason Foster are two interesting candidates.

NFL's No. 2 pick is a hit-or-miss affair - The Denver Post
Last year's No. 2, Ndamukong Suh, was more than worthy of the spot, having been selected as a Pro Bowl starter in his rookie year with the Lions. However, four of the previous six No. 2s have yet to make a Pro Bowl, though the Saints' Reggie Bush does have a Super Bowl ring. Suh's teammate Calvin Johnson, the No. 2 pick in 2007, was named a Pro Bowl starter this year as well, the wide receiver's first trip to the all-star contest.

Thomas injury helps Gaffney job security | All Things Broncos — Denver Broncos news, stats, analysis — Denver Post
As a receiver who will turn 31 during the 2011 season, and with Thomas and Eric Decker needing more playing time in their second year, Gaffney may have been on the roster bubble. Not anymore.

Fantasy Source - Pro Football - Sporting News
The Broncos offensive philosophy will totally change with John Fox at the helm. The Panthers were tied for the eighth most rush attempts and had the 12th most rushing yards during Fox's tenure from 2002-2010. Conversely, they ranked 31st in pass attempts and 26th in net passing yards. Knowshon Moreno figures to benefit the most from the coaching change, but expect Denver to bring in another back to share the load (a la DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart the past couple years in Carolina).

NFL NEWS: GENERAL

Sports Leagues as Coasian Firms | The Sports Economist
Where this transactions-costs-lowering argument seems to fit the necessary condition for league formation is in the setting of the various rules that define a sport. For example, games can be played when the playing rules are unknown beforehand and determined on the spot, but this will generally be uninteresting to fans and frustrating to players. One can make similar claims about playoff determination and champion definition. And don’t forget about setting a playing chedule.

ProFootballWeekly.com - NFC East 2010 season-in-review team reports
NFC East 2010 season-in-review team reports

ProFootballWeekly.com - Report: LeBeau to sign one-year deal
Longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau will remain in Pittsburgh and sign a one-year deal, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Commissioners vote to open stadium talks with Vikings
A new stadium could cost upward of $700 million, and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said he would like to see the team foot at least half of the bill. The Vikings are thought to want a state-financed package where the team only pays about one-third of the cost.

Bogus O.J. Simpson rumor has made the rounds before - Game On!: Covering the Latest Sports News
"We're getting inundated" with calls from news media said Steve Suwe, the public information officer for the Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada. Suwe pointed out that the same story circulated in 2009 and was as false then as it is now. Another Enquirer report on Simpson last summer said the fallen football great was going to be married in prison to a "pen pal" he had never met.

Inside the playbook: Greg Olsen vs. Cover 2 | National Football Post
We spend plenty of time discussing, analyzing and breaking down the Tampa 2 defense in the NFL. A core call in Chicago, Indianapolis and Minnesota, but also a coverage that we see every Sunday around the league. There are multiple Tampa 2 beaters (click here to see them on the chalkboard), but we can’t forget about the tight end position. Let’s take a look at Vikings-Bears from the 2010 season and discuss how you can use the "shake" route to expose the Mike Backer.

Scouting Quarterbacks | National Football Post
Scouting quarterbacks looks like it can be fairly easy but in reality it can be a frustrating experience. There is so much more to it than just looking at stats. The college game is very different than the pro game. The vast majority of college offenses are some form of the spread, where the quarterback usually reads only half the field on a given play. What looks complex can be very simple when compared to what a quarterback is asked to do once he gets to the NFL.

Jim Zorn Named Chiefs Quarterbacks Coach
"We are excited to finalize our coaching staff today with the addition of Jim Zorn," Haley said. "As a former head coach with more than two decades of experience playing and coaching the quarterback position in the NFL, Jim has a tremendous working knowledge of the game, and he will play a big role in the continued development of our football team."

WR Keary Colbert plans return
"After spending a year working with the tight ends at USC as a graduate assistant, it ignited my passion and fire to compete at the highest level," said Colbert. "I've been training and getting myself physically prepared to make a comeback in the NFL. I plan to be a great veteran addition to any team's wide receiver corps."

David Harris gets the franchise tag, too | ProFootballTalk
Harris, the only member of last year’s "Core Four" who did not get a long-term deal, will now receive a one-year tender equal to the average of the five highest-paid linebackers from the 2010 season.

Chargers franchise Vincent Jackson | ProFootballTalk
The mere question of whether there’s any validity to the franchise tag is a subject of contention between the league and the union. The NFL says teams can put the franchise tag on players as usual, as the Jets have with David Harris, the Eagles have with Michael Vick and the Patriots have with Logan Mankins. But the union says there’s no validity to those franchise tags.

Michael Vick is "proud" after getting exclusive franchise tag | ProFootballTalk
Would a team give up two first round picks to sign Michael Vick to a huge contract? The Eagles didn’t want to find out the answer to that question. That’s why they used the "exclusive" franchise tag on him Tuesday. Eagles President Joe Banner informed the media Tuesday afternoon that Vick got the exclusive tag. That prevents other teams from even trying to sign Vick to an offer sheet in exchange for two first round picks if the Eagles didn’t match the offer.

Ravens designate Ngata their franchise player | ProFootballTalk
"The tender allows us to secure Haloti as a Raven right now," said Ravens G.M. Ozzie Newsome. "As we have said, our intention is to enter into a long-term contract with him. We want him to be a Raven."

Peyton Manning latest player to get tagged | ProFootballTalk
Manning gets 120% of his 2010 salary, which is expected to be a little more than $23 million, according to Albert Breer. While $23 million sounds sweet, Manning doesn’t seem likely to ever sign the one-year deal. Manning has an incredible amount of leverage and should get the richest contract in NFL history. He probably just has to wait for a new collective bargaining agreement before he gets it.

Chiefs visiting with Shaun Rogers | ProFootballTalk
Per a league source, Rogers is getting a tire-kicking from the AFC West champions. Where he goes next remains to be seen.

One Packer says Favre wants to bury hatchet with Rodgers | ProFootballTalk
One Packers player told Mike Freeman of CBS that Favre would like to reach out to Rodgers, but he’s worried that it might backfire and make him look bad. "This is one of those situations where Brett can’t win," the player, who didn’t want his name used, said. "If he calls Aaron it looks like he’s grandstanding. If he doesn’t, he seems like he’s selfish and inconsiderate. I can tell you Brett wants to speak to Aaron. He really does and it’s sincere. I don’t know if they’ve spoken yet. I just know Brett wants to bury the hatchet."

Bucs QB Freeman sets offseason work agenda
Freeman, who already has begun personal workouts at One Buc Place, plans to continue working out with teammates even if the owners lock the players out in early March, as many expect, when the collective bargaining agreement expires.

Bucs' Freeman has the right idea in case of a lockout | National Football Post
Smart idea, because without an offseason players will suffer. That’s the easiest way I can say it. I understand that we hear about mini-camp "all-Americans" every May and June. I saw them myself during my own career. Unknown players that would make plays (daily) and stand out in shorts—only to vanish once the pads were put on in August.

As lockout looms, NFL players seek alternative training sites | FLORIDA TODAY | floridatoday.com
Most agents have already been busy trying to find a training site away from teams for the players to continue to work out. The league hasn't decided whether players will be locked out of the facilities if an agreement with the union has not been reached on extending the labor agreement by the time the current one expires. But such a move is very likely. One of the facilities numerous NFL agents are already setting up agreements with is IMG Academies in Bradenton, which annually houses close to two dozen former college football stars while they prepare in January and February each year for the NFL Draft.

Report: As Lockout Looms, NFL Alters EA's "Madden" Game Deal | Digital Media Wire
"For one of our core partners in a difficult environment, we say let's look at this, and maybe it makes some sense to extend something out longer and give our partner some relief in the short term but gain something on the back end," Wayne Weaver, Jacksonville Jaguars owner and chair of the NFL's business ventures committee, told Sports Business Daily.

Roger Staubach's thoughts on Roger Goodell: 'If I was a player, I would trust him' | Dallas Cowboys News - Sports News for Dallas, Texas - SportsDayDFW
Staubach told The Arizona Republic on Monday that he's unsure whether a March lockout can be prevented with a number of tough issues on the table, including extra regular-season games and rookie-salary cuts. However he did speak highly of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, saying: "If I was a player, I would trust him."

Super Bowl ticket class-action lawyer responds to latest offer | ProFootballTalk
As to the 400 who had tickets that, when the time came to get into the game, ended up being as valuable as a handful of beans, we agree. The offer of expenses-or-$5,000-whichever-is-greater represents a right-church-wrong-pew approach to compensation. By extending that offer, the league realizes this isn’t a problem that’s solved by saying "I’m sorry" and giving the affected fans a free trip to the future Super Bowl of their choice, or $2,400 and a ticket to next year’s game. These are wholesale responses to a retail problem, and the only way to fix it is to pay the 400 fans who didn’t get in the full, retail value of the expenses they incurred. And to give them something else for their trouble.

Debts and unpaid bills haven’t derailed UFL, yet | ProFootballTalk
Huyghue also said that the league will lose $7 million this year. Per team. Which means that the league will lose $35 million. Why do we have a feeling that this whole league was concocted to help some really rich guy show heavy revenue losses for tax purposes?

TMQ presents the annual bad predictions review - ESPN
When the Seahawks traded in the offseason for Charlie Whitehurst, Mel Kiper said Whitehurst "could be a find"; Chris Sprow of ESPN Insider said Whitehurst could be a better pro than Sam Bradford; while Sports Illustrated's Banks declared Whitehurst "a steal for Seattle." Whitehurst finished the season with two touchdown passes and a 65.5 rating. For the Rams to draft Bradford, meanwhile, "would be a catastrophic mistake" according to Trent Dilfer of ESPN just before the 2010 draft. Bradford was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

NFL DRAFT

NFL buys out ELITE; will offer regional Combines - CBSSports.com
According to various sources inside and out of the league who had attended these workouts, the combines run by Elite Pro Football focused strictly on recording players' measureables. The medical testing and interviews so important at the Indianapolis Combine are not part of the deal in these workouts. Measuring scouts heights, weights, and recording their times in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, bench press and shuttle drills is the focus, with the information being recorded so that the professional scouts can view the results online.

Bowers, Smith not kneeding sympathy - CBSSports.com
Bowers rehabbed his injury immediately following the surgery six weeks ago, but now feels no effects. His injury is not preventing him from performing any drills at the Athletes Performance Institute's Los Angeles facility. The results of tests run recently make him confident he can prove his athleticism is elite, allowing them to keep their top five grade on him.

Muhammad Wilkerson NFL Draft scouting report - Mocking The Draft
Wilkerson started his final two years of college at defensive tackle for Temple. In that time, he was one of the Mid-American Conference's top players. As a junior, he finished with 70 tackles with 13 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. In 2009, he had 61 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss and seven sacks. It should be noted, though, that the MAC is one of the weakest conferences in the nation.

Could Missouri pass rusher Aldon Smith make a run at the top-10? | National Football Post
If I were to put money down on the one prospect who could make that big rise up draft boards following his week at the NFL Combine, I would place it on Missouri standout Aldon Smith. Smith is currently ranked at the NFP’s number one defensive end prospect and has the kind of physical skill set and versatility that makes his game very intriguing at the next level.

Five senior prospects that need to show well at the NFL Combine | National Football Post
DL Allen Bailey: Miami His tape isn’t overly impressive and his play at the Senior Bowl was inconsistent, but based on the type of athlete Bailey is, this is the time for him to shine and generate a boost in his draft stock.

NFL LOCKOUT

Fans Will Fault NFL Owners for Lockout -- NFL FanHouse
For once, the dropouts seem to recognize this. Neither side is going to win this PR battle, but the NFLPA is at least trying not to look like a bunch of greedy buffoons. Meanwhile, the owners are huffing and puffing and alienating any fan who is bothering to follow this nonsense. The actual issues don't matter to most people, though a few things should be noted: The owners are the ones who opted out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. They won't open their books. They want this fight.

Fans Will Blame Players for NFL Lockout -- NFL FanHouse
Those details will be significant to a tiny minority of the overall fan base. And the information, misinformation, accusations and counter-accusations are going to be flying so fast and furious from both sides that you'll need a law degree and 20 years of labor relations practice under your belt, to actually be able to parse the significant information. Nope, instead of enmeshing themselves in the details the fans are going to blame someone if come September there are no games. And I'll tell you who eventually is going to end up being blamed for the impasse by the vast majority of fans -- the players

Ten simple questions, answers about potential NFL lockout - NFL - CBSSports.com Football
3. What are the implications of a union decertification? Now this is where it could get interesting. You can't lock out a union if there's no union, right? By decertifying, the NFL Players Association would become a group of non-union workers, with the league compelled to implement new rules governing acquisitions, the draft and players' salaries. Suffice it to say that the move would provoke litigation. In fact, it already has.

Amidst NFL's CBA storm, Brees provides steady influence - NFL - CBSSports.com Football
When many players around the league have questions about the progress of the negotiations, they call Brees. When players want to vent, they call Brees, sources say, because they knew he'll talk them off the ledge. When calm is needed, Brees is the guy. When passion is needed, it's also Brees. When coordinated action is needed, it's Brees again.

Jay Feely worries emotions are getting in the way of negotiations | ProFootballTalk
"To get an agreement we need to keep emotion out of the negotiation, and we need to rely on logic and reason," Feely said. "If we allow emotions to enter into the negotiations, then that can get in the way of logic."

Rodney Harrison thinks less contact in practice isn’t the answer to an 18-game season | ProFootballTalk
"You have to be able to hit in training camp. Does that mean you have to play four or five games in training camp? I don’t believe you have to, but you’ve still got o play at least a couple games in training camp, because you’re still looking at young players. It’s going to really hurt the young players, the rookies and guys trying to make a team because if you go out and get a veteran free agent you already know he can play, you know he can hit. But these rookies, these guys from these smaller schools that aren’t getting drafted in the high rounds, you’ve still got to give them an opportunity. So I really think it hurts these guys. You have to hit, that’s what football’s about."

The ripple effect of the NFL lockout | National Football Post
Instead, US Bank proposed an in house portfolio loan on a 5 year ARM @4.25% and said they can't do the 15 year fixed "because of the lockout" (their exact quote). When I called the mortgage rep named Cynthia at US Bank to get a detailed explanation, she told me that; "her underwriters said Fannie May or Freddie Mac won't underwrite any NFL players because of the impending lockout. However, the bank is willing to do so in house, but only for a 5/1 adjustable rate loan." She also added that she wasn't even sure what an NFL lockout meant. Another one of my veteran clients, worth well over several million dollars, had similar resistance from another bank on a residential refinance. The lockout was also referenced to him as the reasoning why the loan may be "challenging" to close.

Domonique Foxworth compares CBA talks to 'whack-a-mole' | National Football Post
"It feels kind of like whack-a-mole," Foxworth said in a radio interview with Denver station 104.3 The Fan. "They'll say this is one issue and we'll whack that mole and then something else will pop up that this is the major issue. We're always trying to catch up to what it is. That's why I feel that's part of the strategy.

York County, SC | League, owners have Richardson's back | The Herald - Rock Hill, SC
Asked if the recent reports had changed the league's perception of Richardson and his place in the hierarchy (he co-chairs the negotiating committee), league spokesman Greg Aiello's reply was: "No, absolutely nothing has changed." The 74-year-old Richardson also chaired the 2006 negotiations, which gave away much of the ground the league seems intent on winning back.

ProFootballWeekly.com - No meeting scheduled for NFL, union
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello called the union's claim "complete fiction." "There were no meetings scheduled so there was nothing to re-confirm," said Aiello of the union's claim that the league failed to confirm the sessions.

Amid Controversy, N.F.L. Labor Talks Grind to a Halt - NYTimes.com
"I start from the premise that these can be contentious, and if we’re going to spend all our time criticizing and dissecting every statement made, it’s going to be hard to make a lot of progress," Pash said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "I think everyone has to recognize there are going to be statements in the course of negotiations that people aren’t going to like."

Fan Advocacy Group Wants to Witness Negotiations - NYTimes.com
They did not ask for a voice at the talks, just a chance to witness them, to "inform fans across the country about the state of ongoing negotiations and ensure that progress is being made towards an agreement that ensures a central consideration of fans," as the letter stated.

Letters Galore About NFL Labor Negotiations - NYTimes.com
Both sides in the NFL's labor talks are trying to spread the word by putting their positions in writing, and everyone's getting in on the act — from Hall of Fame players Jack Youngblood and Bruce Smith, to Commissioner Roger Goodell, to mayors of league cities.

Chris Palmer, Vincent Jackson, labor negotiations, more NFL topics - Peter King - SI.com
9. I think the most surprising thing in commissioner Roger Goodell's letter to newspaper editors that was released Tuesday is one of the things he said about why the current system has to change. He wrote: "The status quo means failing to recognize the many costs of financing, building, maintaining and operating stadiums. We need new stadiums in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego ... '' Very interesting that the first city mentioned is a city that doesn't have a team, a city that could well take one of the current franchises struggling to get a new stadium built.

NFL.com news: Labor board doesn't have timetable on NFL's claim vs. union
"We will be trying to figure out if they have been 'surface bargaining,' and quite frankly, that's tricky to determine," Cleeland said. "But we do get that charge quite a bit," she said, adding that it's generally made by unions against management/ownership.

Drew Brees to NFL Team Owners: 'Show Us Those Costs' -- NFL FanHouse
"Ownership in the NFL would argue that even though the revenue has gone up their costs have gone up," Brees told Sirius radio recently. "So naturally we would say, 'OK, well show us those costs.' Because we have access to the revenue numbers but we don't have access to the cost numbers. "Show us those costs and we're all reasonable and we'll come to the table and we'll talk. But they have yet in the last year-and-a-half to show us any cost numbers so I don't know what to tell you because we're there, we're ready to talk, we're just not being given the information."

NFL denies labor talks were scheduled this week - ESPN
As part of the increasing communication gap between the two sides, the NFL has denied there were any collective bargaining negotiating sessions scheduled this week, as a union official had claimed Monday.

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