Denver Broncos News: Horse Tracks - 3/3/11

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Broncos owner Bowlen at heart of NFL labor dispute - Denver Page One | Examiner.com
The stakes for Bowlen and the Broncos are especially high, because the owners are seeking a rookie pay scale that caps contracts available to just-drafted players. The Broncos have the #2 overall pick in this year’s draft, and stand to save substantial cash if there is a cap on the amount of money their top pick can demand. A rookie pay cap would also go far in preventing a holdout situation where a draftee refuses to show up for mini-camps, preseason contests and even regular season games as he demands a more lucrative entry contract from the club that drafted him.

Broncos' Bowlen among NFL owners attending mediation with union - The Denver Post
All 10 members of the NFL owners' labor committee, including Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, as well as New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees are attending negotiations as the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement nears. Wednesday's talks between the sides at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service comes on the same day that the league's 32 team owners are gathering to meet at a hotel about 25 miles away in Chantilly, Va.

Broncos cut tight end Daniel Graham, $1 million bonus was due - The Denver Post
The Broncos released the veteran tight end Wednesday. The move was not unexpected as Graham had a $1 million roster bonus due on the first day of the league year, which is supposed to be Friday. Although the 2011 business year will be postponed if a new collective bargaining agreement between owners and players is not reached by 10 p.m. MST Thursday, the Broncos are conducting roster housecleaning in case there is a last-minute settlement.

Broncos extend tenders to K Matt Prater, LB Wesley Woodyard - The Denver Post
As expected, the Broncos extended second-round, $1.835 million tenders to restricted free agent kicker Matt Prater and Wesley Woodyard. Not expectantly, the Broncos also extended "original" round, $1.2 million, restricted free agent tenders to right tackle Ryan Harris, defensive end Kevin Vickerson and defensive tackle Marcus Thomas.

Graham Released
In his career, Graham has amassed 222 receptions for 2,465 yards and 24 touchdowns. Last year, he finished seventh on the team with 18 catches for 148 yards, snapping a streak of eight consecutive seasons with at least one touchdown. The two-time Super Bowl champion is one of only 11 players to start a game at the high school, college and NFL level for a team in the state of Colorado.

Broncos release tight end Graham, a former CU Buffalo | release, tight, broncos - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO
Graham’s play slipped last season, when he had 18 catches for 148 yards but dropped a number of passes. Elway also announced on his Twitter feed the qualifying offers the club made Wednesday to Harris, Prater, linebacker and co-captain Wesley Woodyard and defensive linemen Kevin Vickerson and Marcus Thomas. Three of them missed significant time with injuries last year.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Draft Dose: NFL coaching changes
John Fox, Broncos Fox, the head coach of the Panthers for the past nine seasons, takes the reins in Denver and inherits the second overall pick in the draft. Fox, a defensive-minded coach, could look to target one of the top D-linemen — Bowers, Dareus or Auburn's Nick Fairley. Even with Champ Bailey re-signed, Fox also could look at Patrick Peterson, the dynamic cornerback and punt returner from LSU.

NFL NEWS: GENERAL

Lingerie Football might move to Sundays if NFL season is delayed - NFL News | FOX Sports on MSN
The Lingerie Football League (LFL) is eager to cash in on a possible NFL lockout, with officials announcing Wednesday it is considering moving its games from Friday nights to Sunday afternoons if the national league's season is delayed or suspended, WKYC-TV reported.

Chiefs' employees would see pay cut if there's a lockout - KansasCity.com
All Chiefs employees — including general manager Scott Pioli, coach Todd Haley and president Mark Donovan — would see a pay reduction if the NFL experiences a work stoppage. The collective bargaining agreement between the owners and players expires Thursday night. If no new agreement is reached, owners have indicated they would lock out the players.

A.J. Hawk back with Pack | Today's TMJ4 - Milwaukee, Wisconsin News, Weather, Sports, WTMJ | Sports Glance With Lance
Just as quick as he was cut, A.J. Hawk is back, with the Pack. Two sources tell me that the linebacker is scheduled to fly back to Green Bay on Thursday, and sign a new 5-year deal. Terms not disclosed. The Packers didn't have deal fully completed before they had to release Hawk. But Hawk will come to Lambeau Field to sign the new contract before the collective bargaining agreement is set to expire on Thursday at midnight. Hawk released because the $10 million in base salary owed for next season, courtesy of his rookie contract....there's no way the Packers were going to pay that.

Tagged for the Draft - CBSSports.com
If teams cannot sign other free agents to fill dire needs before the draft, they'll be looking at the event slightly differently. Even though every general manager will say they will take the "best player available" on their board no matter what happens in free agency, needs always seem to creep into decisions of whom to take--consciously or subconsciously. Each of the 14 franchise player designations, therefore, has an impact in the way the team drafts, and the way the draft plays out.

NFL DRAFT

Tanier: NFL wants its linemen big, but not tall - NFL- NBC Sports
They could have hung a sign 81 inches off the ground during the offensive tackle workouts at the NFL Combine reading: "You Must Be This Tall to Enter." Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi and Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo each measured in at 6-foot-7. Colorado’s Nate Solder stands a whopping 6-foot-8 1/4. Standing among these oak trees, hulking men like Villanova’s Ben Ijalana (6-foot-3 5/8) looked almost shrimpy. Carimi and the other tall tackles appeared more ready for the frontcourt than the NFL front lines.

Is Patrick Peterson the top player in the draft? | National Football Post
Patrick Peterson is a 6-0, 219 pound corner—and he just ran an official 4.34 in the 40-yard dash on Tuesday in Indianapolis. I haven’t seen that type of size and speed since playing with Sean Taylor in Washington. Impressive. That alone is going to create buzz surrounding a prospect. We see it every year when it comes to the defensive back workouts at the combine. Usually, an unknown prospect rips off a 40-time that turns heads. We start pushing him up the draft boards and over value his skill set.

NFL LOCKOUT

NFL owners on verge of lockout with players in labor feud - The Denver Post
All the NFL has going for it is everything. Record television ratings. State-of-the-art stadiums. The definition of competitive balance. Other sports leagues can only dream about what the NFL has going for it. Yet, barring an unforeseen cave-in by the players' union on some contentious issues — none bigger than the fight over a billion dollars — the NFL will begin a work stoppage at 10 p.m. tonight. From the outside looking in, this appears to be the latest example of how having it all is not enough.

NFL.com news: Pash: League could extend deadline if gap in labor talks closes
NFL owners would be open to extending the deadline for expiration of the collective bargaining agreement, general counsel Jeff Pash said Wednesday morning before the league and the NFL Players Association met for a four-hour negotiating session. "I think we have to see where we're at," Pash said before entering the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service office of George Cohen. "I think that's an option. We're not taking anything off the table."

It's Getting Harder for Sanity to Win in NFL Talks - NYTimes.com
s the clock strikes midnight Thursday on the NFL's labor contract, it's probably safe to say the same fans who can diagram a 4-3 defense blindfolded don't have much of an understanding of the issues that could lead to empty stadiums next fall. They're hardly alone, because at first glance the whole thing seems like a fight between millionaires and billionaires that is as unnecessary as it is ill-timed. Hard-liners on both sides have taken it to the brink, and there's no indication that sanity will prevail before the current collective bargaining agreement expires and things really begin to get nasty.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Owners have chosen words carefully on CBA
Robert Kraft and Jerry Richardson are two of the more respected owners in the NFL. They are friends away from business, too, having forged a strong bond over several years in the league. Their teams even met in Super Bowl XXXVIII, with Richardson speaking very earnestly about his friend Kraft's victory afterward as the Patriots defeated the Panthers back in 2004. But perhaps no two owners, even as they sit side by side as members of the owners' labor committee, stand as far apart in their public comments as the battle to land a new Collective Bargaining Agreement wages on.

In hindsight, Doty’s ruling was a no-brainer | ProFootballTalk
The league had a responsibility to max out the money on behalf of the NFL and the players. The league instead embarked on a strategy of inserting and/or beefing up language that would require the networks to continue to make payments even if there’s no product, and that would make the repayment obligation by the league as favorable as possible. But don’t take our word for it (as if you ever would). Consider this series of quotes from the ruling, followed by our take on each one.

Doty ruling should force sides to compromise - NFL - Yahoo! Sports
That said, I don’t believe Doty’s ruling on Tuesday was radical in its interpretation or especially biased: He agreed with the NFLPA’s position that the owners, in negotiating their current TV contracts, had failed to maximize revenues by insisting upon clauses which kept cash coming in during a work stoppage (against future credits for games lost). In other words, the value of those clauses was realized only by the owners and not by their partners, the NFLPA members, who receive a large percentage of the TV money. That makes sense to me. The key word here is partners – if the owners, in the wake of Doty’s ruling, begin treating the players as partners and resume negotiations with that principle in mind, I think they’ll find that substantial progress in a relatively short period is possible.

NFL players poised to decertify union, could seek injuction to block lockout
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said the full ownership group did not vote on a lockout when it met for about three hours. "We didn't break the room with a lockout vote," Irsay said. "It was just an update. Owners were able to ask questions. . . I never have expectations because it changes. It's a chess board that moves around and things change."

NFL Labor Battle Reaches End Game - SportsMoney - news on the business of sports - Forbes
The NFL cannot be rid of Judge Doty’s oversight of the CBA fast enough. Having governed the CBA since its inception with the Reggie White settlement in 1993, Doty has been extremely player-friendly in his rulings. Doty’s ruling against the Atlanta Falcons last year that Michael Vick could keep his $20 million bonus despite his dog fighting activities was especially galling to management. The wrath of Doty persists. The NFL would dearly like to end Doty’s involvement in its matters, whether through agreement with the union or by letting the CBA expire Friday towards a new method of oversight.

NFL owners, players have one last gasp to close the labor gap - USATODAY.com
Of course, it's possible there could be a new deal, which might represent a miracle known henceforth as The Immaculate Negotiation. The NFL, which generated $9.3 billion in revenue in 2010, hasn't had a work stoppage in more than 23 years, the longest such run of any of the major U.S. professional sports leagues. But with the sides apparently still far apart on key issues — including whether the players will relinquish another $1 billion a year to the owners — that streak could go the way of Brett Favre's ironman record.

No peace: CBA battle likely to drag out in courts - NFL - Yahoo! Sports
After more than two years of talking about the collective bargaining agreement, Goodell is hearing a lot of messages from a lot of people in his camp. There are some who want a resolution. Others want to continue fighting the union. About the only thing that NFL owners seem unified by is that they don’t want to deal with federal judge David Doty anymore. Doty’s ruling Tuesday that took away the owners’ ability to get "lockout insurance" in the form of advanced payments on the NFL television contracts, was unilaterally seen by owners as a sign that they will never get a fair shake in Doty’s court, which oversees labor issues for the NFL.

NFL labor dispute has prosperous league on the brink of shutting down
On Friday at midnight, unless there is a spectacular fourth-quarter comeback, the entire enterprise is likely to shut down - because the league's 32 owners and its players cannot agree on how to divide their riches. "For fans, the headline is, 'How could they have gotten into this mess?' " said David Carter, the executive director of the Sports Business Institute at the University of Southern California.

Media companies ready themselves for tough NFL break - CNBC
TV executives are understandably very nervous but have generally tried to play it down. "I hope and pray fervently that it doesn't happen," said Fox Sports Media Group Chairman David Hill. "We know what happens to sports after a strike or a lockout: people turn away and it takes a while for them to come back. It would be a great tragedy if both sides weren't able to reach an agreement." CBS CEO Les Moonves said on a conference call last month that its agreement with the NFL would see the company part with some money but the contract would be extended if any games are missed.

NFL roundup: League's agreement set to expire at midnight | Detroit Free Press | freep.com
NFL owners, who are not required to take a lockout vote, ended their special labor meeting Wednesday night without taking any action. "The committee has not made any decision as to what will happen upon expiration of the current agreement if we don't have a new one by tomorrow night," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.

Bloggers protesting potential lockout appear at NFL owners meeting - The Huddle: Football News from the NFL - USATODAY.com
A couple of anti-lockout bloggers showed up Wednesday at the NFL owners meeting and made an unsuccessful try to present each arriving team owner with photocopied books they said contained the names of 150,000 fans who are petitioning the league (with the backing of the players' union) to keep its doors open.

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