Denver Broncos News: Horse Tracks - 2/23/11

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Broncos sign Champ Bailey to 4-year deal - The Denver Post
All right, John Elway. Now let's see what you can do about that defensive front seven. As a Bronco, Elway is on a 14-year hot streak. He won the Super Bowl in his final two seasons as a Denver quarterback. Then, after a 12-year hiatus, Elway returned to run the Broncos' front office. On Tuesday, in his first major player personnel decision, Elway re-signed star cornerback Champ Bailey to a four-year contract worth $43 million.

Broncos re-sign Champ Bailey to four-year contract for $43 million - The Denver Post
As it turned out, Champ Bailey probably took less than market value to stay with the Broncos.The four-year contract the Broncos gave Champ Bailey is the richest ever for a cornerback who is past 30 years old. Bailey will turn 33 in June and will be 36 in 2014, the final year of his deal. The industry will report this as a four-year, $43 million contract (he can push it to $47 million with incentives like Pro Bowl appearances, which in Bailey's case are hardly unreachable) with $22 million guaranteed.

Speaking of Champ Bailey and his house for sale … | All Things Broncos — Denver Broncos news, stats, analysis — Denver Post
There was some nervousness last week when Champ Bailey let it be known he was putting his Denver home on the market. He admitted Thursday it was all part of a bargaining strategy.

Champ: Not optimistic about 2011 season | All Things Broncos — Denver Broncos news, stats, analysis — Denver Post
""No I’m not," Bailey said by conference call. ""I’ve been pessimistic about this thing since Day 1. Ever since our union leader (DeMaurice Smith) came and talked to us last year it kind of opened my eyes like, there might not be football. I know once April, May, June, July rolls around, and there’s no football, I don’t know what the players are going to do.

Q&A: Fox familiar with some Panthers who may draw interest from the Broncos - The Denver Post
Fox would like to have players on the Denver roster he is familiar with — if they can contribute. But executive vice president of football operations John Elway and and general manager Brian Xanders would have to sign off on them too. Fox has a voice in personnel, but Xanders runs the day-to-day operations on the personnel side of the organization and Elway has the call on football matters. The Panthers were 2-14 in 2010, good for the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft April 28-30, but they didn't have much to win with after cleaning house before the start of the season.

Broncos sign Bailey to four-year pact | broncos, year, four - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO
Fox's massive makeover of Denver's defense will be much easier with Bailey as the cornerstone. Bailey joined the Broncos in 2004 when former coach Mike Shanahan traded running back Clinton Portis to the Washington Redskins in a rare swap of blue chip talent. Despite Bailey's presence, the Broncos have long been bad on defense as Shanahan and then Josh McDaniels focused more on the offensive side and annually changed defensive coordinators, who had to deconstruct schemes and implement new philosophies.

Bailey, Broncos Agree on Four-Year Deal " MaxDenver
THE TEAM’S FAITH IN THE PLAYER. Money did matter; Bailey noted on Jan. 3 that he wasn’t "for sale" and wouldn’t give the Broncos a deep hometown discount. By giving this length of a deal to Bailey, the Broncos are not only rewarding Bailey for his previous seven years of service to the team, but are showing an expectation of future Pro Bowl seasons to come. While some other cornerbacks such as Rod Woodson have converted to safety later in their careers, Bailey appears set at cornerback, since he hasn’t incurred the kind of position-altering major injury that Woodson absorbed in his ninth season, when he tore an anterior cruciate ligament.

Bailey Stays a Bronco
In an offseason in which the Broncos will look to add a playmaker with the No. 2 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the team has now already locked up one of the league's most proven playmakers. Bailey's 10 Pro Bowls mark the most in league history by a cornerback, and his six as a Bronco are tied for fifth in team history.

At Home
"I feel like I'm a Denver native," Bailey said. "I'm not from here, but it feels good here. I feel like I'm home. That played a big part in my decision to stay, because I want to help make this city proud."

Meet Karl Mecklenburg (4–6pm) & Broncos Cheerleaders & Miles (5-7pm) at King Soopers
Meet Ring of Famer, Karl Mecklenburg at King Soopers in Greeley on Wednesday, 2/23/11 from 4-6pm. Meet Miles the Mascot and Broncos Cheerleaders from 5-7pm. King Soopers 6922 10th St. Greeley, CO

Top 5 Plays: Offense
Broncos TV counts down the best offensive plays from the 2010 season.

Broncos make the right move with Bailey | National Football Post
An elite talent, such as a Revis or an Asomugha? Probably not at this stage of his career, but if I am a defensive coordinator, I have no issue lining up Bailey across from a Vincent Jackson and Dwayne Bowe in the AFC West or any other No.1 WR in the NFL. Third downs and in the red zone (where corners make their money), Bailey can still win from both a press and an off-man position.

NFL.com Blogs " Blog Archive Tebow a fantasy sleeper? Not so fast … "
The Florida product scored an unreal 71 fantasy points over that trio of games, topping Josh Freeman (64 points), Vick and Jamaal Charles (58 points each). Based on his high level of production, Tebow has to be considered the favorite to start the Broncos in the 2011 campaign … right?

FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | Four Downs: AFC West
The move from Josh McDaniels to John Fox as Denver's head coach was just one of many shape-shifts for the Broncos. John Elway took over the entire operation and hired Fox, who promoted Mike McCoy from offensive coordinator in name only (which he was under McDaniels), to the man who will set the tone for Denver's offense. McCoy and Fox worked together in Carolina, and the first challenge they'll face together in Denver -- especially with the franchise's all-time quarterback overseeing the process -- will be to choose a franchise quarterback.

Team Reports | NFL at CBSSports.com
Wide receiver Eddie Royal spoke Wednesday about his recent hip surgery, and while he was reticent to go into details about the nature of his injury, he said some reports about the severity of his condition have been overblown. "It wasn't a major procedure," he said, adding, "It's really not that drastic a thing." Royal explained that he'll take his time in his recovery and that the May timetable he's been given is not only feasible but "is taking it slow." The receiver is due to ditch his crutches soon. "I'm moving around great."

Broncos face decisions about experienced players - The Denver Post
The Broncos may have some tough decisions to make regarding four of their most experienced players. Strong safety Brian Dawkins, 37, is due a $6 million salary in 2011 and nose tackle Jamal Williams, who turns 35 on April 28, and would have to become a defensive tackle in the team's new 4-3 alignment, is owed $5 million in salary and roster bonus. Free safety Renaldo Hill, 32, is scheduled for a $2.4 million salary and running back Correll Buckhalter, 32, is on the books for $1.92 million. None of that money with those players is guaranteed.

NFL NEWS: GENERAL

Carolina Panthers franchise tag center Ryan Kalil - ESPN
Kalil is planning on signing the team's franchise offer sheet, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. The players' union has questioned the validity of the franchise tag for next season with the current collective bargaining agreement set to expire, so Kalil's decision to sign the offer is an interesting one. The 25-year-old Kalil is coming off his second straight Pro Bowl season. Under the franchise tag, Kalil is offered a guaranteed one-year deal at about $10.5 million.

Ronde Barber Agrees to Deal With Bucs -- NFL FanHouse
There is a familiar dance in the NFL this time of year as teams try and decide whether to hold on to the aged veteran one more season, or let him walk. The Bucs and Ronde Barber never danced too far apart. They both knew they wanted one more season together and they got a deal done.

Scouting Linebackers | National Football Post
Just as when we talked about defensive linemen last week, scouting linebackers has much to do about scheme. Many outside linebackers in a 3-4 defense could play defensive end in a 4-3. Their ability to drop and their instincts in coverage will have a lot to do with that ability. For the purpose of this discussion, we will talk about linebackers in general and then the traits needed to play linebacker in the different schemes.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Which active players are destined for Hall of Fame?
What does it take to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Only voters can answer that question, but what we do know is that the 44-person Selection Committee inducts no more than five each year (not counting the two Senior Committee candidates) and rarely more than one at each position. It makes for a competitive field, allowing only the best of the best to enter Canton's doors.

Howard Balzer talks about possible changes to Hall of Fame process | ProFootballTalk
One key question relates to the standard for determining what a Hall of Famer is. Apparently, there is no standard. Maybe there should be. And maybe it should be a know-it-when-you-see-it-style test that would allow admission only to those about whom there is no debate, such as Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice in 2010.

Sanders, Spanos to meet on Chargers stadium - SignOnSanDiego.com
Whatever Spanos and Sanders will talk about, it does seem that because of the two issues Fabiani raises and a renewed focus on L.A., the issue of whether to build -- and how to pay for -- a potentially $800 million stadium for the Chargers east of Petco Park is being discussed more than ever, at least by fans and taxpayers. (Need a reminder on the CBA and redevelopment? A labor dispute and the end of the NFL's current collective bargaining agreement could lead to a lockout March 4. And a showdown is looming in state government over Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies and with them, a way to pay for the Chargers stadium in downtown San Diego and projects statewide.)

Falcons' Prospects for New Stadium in Georgia Looking Increasingly Likely -- NFL FanHouse
On the day the state legislature announced cuts in funding to the HOPE scholarship program, Georgia's higher education bedrock, Arthur Blank's team is on track to receive a publicly-financed stadium. It is not clear how much Blank and the Falcons will pay, but it should be significant considering how other deals have been struck with NFL teams.

Dave Duerson had filed for bankruptcy before death - ESPN Chicago
Duerson had filed for personal bankruptcy in September in Florida, according to court documents. He listed $34.6 million in assets and $14.7 million in liabilities. However, nearly all of the assets were part of a judgment his food company had won in 2004 but had never collected.

A Suicide, a Last Request, a Family’s Questions - NYTimes.com
Duerson’s final letter, consisting mostly of personal comments that relatives declined to make public, did describe blurred vision and pain, Alicia Duerson said, "on the left side of his brain." The implication, by pledging his brain to research, was that his problems, and perhaps his suicide as well, stemmed from his football career.

FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | Four Downs: AFC North
However, the tales of Mr. Palmer's decline have been a bit exaggerated. It looks like Palmer has fallen far because he was so high to begin with. Back in 2005, we were asking if Palmer was ready to join the top pantheon of current quarterbacks along with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. He's not close to that level anymore, but he's still one of the better quarterbacks in the league. No, really.

NFL DRAFT:COMBINE

Bowers will only lift at combine - CBSSports.com
Bowers led the nation with 15.5 sacks in 2010 and is believed to be one of the prospects the Carolina Panthers are considering with the No. 1 overall pick. Despite his big sack numbers, Bowers is actually considered stronger against the run, and could be looked at as an end for 3-4 teams.

Combine Countdown -- DT Lawrence Guy - CBSSports.com
One of the more underrated defensive linemen, in my opinion, is Arizona State's Lawrence Guy . The 6-5, 300 pound Guy has a combination of size, strength and athleticism that few other defensive tackles in this class can rival.

Jake Locker, Cam Newton add spice to NFL combine storylines - NFL - SI.com
Top athletic workouts at the combine do not automatically improve a player's draft positioning, yet it does help. This is especially true when a lower-rated prospect turns heads with fast times or better than expected results. Three players expected to excel:

Five safeties to watch at the combine | National Football Post
As the NFP heads down to Indianapolis today, let’s talk about the safety position. Unlike 2010, when we saw a class that had top talent at the position (Eric Berry, Earl Thomas, Nate Allen, etc.), this year’s group is average—and might not produce any first round talent. However, there are still some names to watch at the combine. Let’s run through five prospects that we should keep an eye on—because their stock is about to increase if they test well in Indy.

An intense Combine time | National Football Post
This year’s NFL Combine will be about my 20th visit to Indianapolis for the annual event. But this year will be special because of the labor tension that exists on the doorstep of the expiring CBA. Behind the curtain of the actual testing for the 2011 draft class, talks and emotions will be running at a more intense level than usual. Although the business of the NFL will be a big media focal point this week, it’s still about the rookies. However, the one test you won’t see on TV is usually the most important and is the #1 reason the NFL Combine even exists.

Combine 40 times of particular importance to this year’s CB class | ProFootballTalk
When the defensive backs run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, it’s an impressive display of straight-line speed. But how meaningful is it to determining whether these guys can play football? According to NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, it’s actually quite meaningful — at least with this year’s class, where several of the top defensive backs have questions to answer about their speed.

Sources: NFL to brief GMs, coaches at combine - ESPN
At the meeting, the NFL is expected to debrief teams on any number of issues pertaining to labor uncertainty and football operations, including what to expect in these uncertain times, what will be allowed this offseason, and the type of contact that teams will be permitted to have with agents.

NFL DRAFT: GENERAL

Quarterback class may not have an immediate starter | ProFootballTalk
"Where is that one impact, immediate starter?" an AFC personnel exec recently told Tom Pelissero of 1500espn.com. "That’s what NFL teams are trying to figure out. There may not be right now a walk-in-the-door, first-day starting quarterback that’s in the draft."

ProFootballWeekly.com - Prince Amukamara's draft diary, Part 2
On what is going to be his best event at the NFL Combine: Amukamara: I think the pro agility and position drills are going to be my best event, because that's where I put more of my focus on here at API (Athletes Performance Institute), and I'm happy with what I accomplished here. I've put in a lot of work in the weight room, a lot of hip work, and a lot of reps just doing it out on the field.

Panthers tag could hint at Bowers pick
The case against franchising Johnson: A $13 million deal for a guy with one solid year -- he had 10 sacks combined in his first three -- represents more of a gamble than with the reliable Kalil. There are those who wonder whether he's a naturally ascending player, or a guy who put up big numbers in a contract year for his one payday. If he leaves, it would position the Panthers to take Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers with the top pick and proceed as they did in 2002, after drafting Julius Peppers second overall.

Cam Newton: I'm an 'entertainer and icon' too - NFL News | FOX Sports on MSN
Former Auburn University quarterback Cam Newton had some questions about his character hanging over his head coming into this week’s NFL Scouting Combine. He might just have added another one. "I see myself not only as a football player, but an entertainer and icon," Newton said as noted by Sports Illustrated's Peter King during a phone call he had with the quarterback.

Drake Nevis NFL Draft Scouting Report - Mocking The Draft
Nevis is a nasty defensive tackle that loves to get after the ball carrier. His quick first step is among the best in this draft class and makes him a great fit at the 3 technique position. When I watch him play he gives me a Tommie Harris vibe in the way he gets into the backfield. Ultimately, Nevis may find himself sliding in the draft due to the limits of what position he can play. However, the 2nd round is as far as he will fall and whoever selects him will get a guy capable of contributing right away.

Gil Brandt would be "shocked" if Newton not No. 1 - CBSSports.com
According to Gil Brandt, the race is already over. Brandt, an NFL.com analyst and longtime Dallas Cowboys' director of personnel, was quoted by Jimmy Burch in Monday's Star Telegram that he'd be "shocked" if Newton was not the No. 1 overall pick of the draft. While Newton is unquestionably talented , Brandt's prediction is a bold one. Just because Newton is a spectacular athletic talent and plays the quarterback position does not necessarily mean he should be the first player selected. Newton's numerous character concerns and adjustment to a pro-style offense require significant investigation.

NFL LOCKOUT

Star Tribune, Pioneer Press seek to unseal papers in NFL case | StarTribune.com
The Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press are trying to get into the game -- or at least into the courtroom -- in a battle between the NFL and its players association over money paid to the league by television networks. Saying "the public's right to know what goes on in its courthouses is a fundamental right," the news organizations filed motions in federal court Tuesday to unseal documents filed as "confidential" in the case.

Hard Hits with LaVar Arrington - NFL lockout seems inevitable, but how long will it last?
Last week, NFL owners and the players' union agreed to sit down and discuss possible terms in front of a neutral arbitrator. Entering the fifth day of talks, no deal is in sight. As March 4 quickly approaches, the reality should be setting in that a lockout is inevitable. The question is, how long will it last? If I'm understanding all of the information circulating correctly, it would seem that court rulings will dictate the strength of leverage on both sides. Judicial support will play a very critical part in which side will have to adjust its terms to come to an agreement.

NFL.com news: Union postpones agent meeting as mediated talks continue
The union also postponed a scheduled summit with select agents at the scouting combine on Thursday, clearing the calendar somewhat for the final scheduled day with the mediator. Players association officials will still hold their mandatory meeting for all player-agents in Indianapolis on Friday. Tuesday's talks brought the tally for five days up to about 38 hours of meetings between the sides, but union spokesman George Atallah was quick to dismiss any public characterization of "what's going on in the negotiating room" as "pure speculation."

As N.F.L. Talks Go On, Union Adjusts Its Schedule - NYTimes.com
The recent meetings have included small contingents of representatives from both sides, with only a handful of players and no owners in attendance. Also on Thursday, oral arguments will be heard in a Minneapolis federal courtroom in a case in which the union alleges that the N.F.L. improperly negotiated television contracts when it built in provisions to allow the league to receive money even if no games are played.

Lack of news from mediated NFL negotiations is good thing - Peter King - SI.com
Ask any labor negotiator, and he/she will tell you one of the most important things in negotiating a deal between contentious parties is the ability to talk frankly, without fear of words being twisted and taken out of context. You saw the firestorm that the remarks from Carolina owner Jerry Richardson, a leading owners' negotiator, created when he allegedly talked down to players in a labor meeting earlier this month. Whatever was said -- and it is certain he said some things that angered the players in the room -- it's clear the publicizing of that story showed what a short fuse both sides had entering the serious part of these talks.

Union claims reports of progress are "speculation" | ProFootballTalk
"Every report about what’s happening in the room at this point is pure speculation," NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told the Associated Press via e-mail on Tuesday. Of course, since Atallah isn’t personally in the room, he doesn’t actually know whether any reports are indeed speculation. We’ve reported that Tuesday was "big day" for progress in the process, though we haven’t been able to track down any specifics as to the issue(s) about which there may have been a breakthrough. But we stand by that report, and we understand why the union and the league would feel compelled to dismiss any report, out of further respect for the vow of silence that the parties took when the process commenced on Friday of last week.

New cast of characters added to labor talks | ProFootballTalk
It will be interesting to see when actual NFL owners get involved in the face-to-face talks. Florio has speculated that these early mediation sessions have focused on smaller issues in the hopes of creating momentum and building consensus. It makes a lot of sense. (And not only because I’m paid to say that.) Putting NFL owners in the room could ultimately be a sign the two sides are moving towards larger problems, and the inherent difficulties those issues create. (Including the possibility of a breakdown in talks.)

As mediated talks continue, union takes case to Ustream | ProFootballTalk
We prefer to think of it not as compensation for income generated by old highlights, but as an acknowledgment of the fact that the men who came before today’s players helped build the game to the point it now occupies. The challenge is to decide how any efforts to take care of past players will be funded. If, as Harrison believes, a sport that generates $9 billion per year and consists of franchises worth $1 billion each has a responsibility to take care of former players (a point on which we agree), the question becomes whether the money will come from the profits generated by the businesses, the players’ cut of the revenue, or a combination of the two.

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