Denver Broncos News: Horse Tracks - 3/4/11

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Alabama DT Marcell Dareus caught Broncos' attention at NFL combine - The Denver Post
North Carolina safety Da'Norris Searcy, who averaged 14.6 yards on punt returns in 2009. Searcy sees the field well and understands where he needs to be. The Broncos were among the 18 teams that met with him at the scouting combine. Denver will be looking for a safety in the draft, and Searcy is certain to get a long look.

Broncos release DTs Bannan, Williams - The Denver Post
And so Thursday, after Williams refused a substantial pay-cut offer, the Broncos cut the veteran after just one season. The Broncos release of defensive tackle Justin Bannan, however, stirred surprise, if not borderline shock. "I've never been so blindsided," Bannan said. "I've never been so confident that I held up my end of the bargain. I did my job. I gave it everything I had. It broke my heart. I want to stay in Colorado. I love the people. I know I'm going to stay in that community. I'm just not going to be able to work there."

Baylor's Danny Watkins catches eye of Broncos coaches - The Denver Post
The school's best draft prospect this time around, guard Danny Watkins, continues to edge his way toward the first round. That's bad news for the Broncos, who like certainly like the way Watkins plays. The Broncos wouldn't take Watkins with the No. 2 pick of the draft. But the top of the second round, where they also have a pick, would have been a prime spot to get the old-school masher.

Q&A: Moving down might not be in Broncos' best interest - The Denver Post
Mike, everyone who wants to have a shot at one of the best quarterbacks in this draft will have to make a decision about what they think the Bills will do at No. 3. When draft weekend rolls around, if the vibe throughout the NFL is that they will take a quarterback, then the Broncos' pick, at No. 2, or even the Panthers' , No. 1, become valuable spots.

Broncos keeping defensive end Kevin Vickerson - The Denver Post
Finances were factors in releasing the three veterans but so was age. Williams will soon turn 35, Bannan will soon turn 32 and Graham is 32. Vickerson is 28. He had played for Miami, Tennessee and Seattle before catching on with the Broncos a few days before the start of the 2010 season.

Broncos don't re-sign RB Laurence Maroney - The Denver Post
The Broncos made qualifying tenders to right tackle Ryan Harris, and defensive linemen Kevin Vickerson and Marcus Thomas, on the off chance that the league plays a second consecutive year without a collective bargaining agreement. Maroney would have qualified for the same offer, but the Broncos declined. Thus the team sent a strong signal that it will turn Maroney loose as soon as free agency opens.

Daniel Graham has no plans to retire - NFL - CBSSports.com Football
Tight end Daniel Graham says he has no plans to retire and thinks he can play another three or four seasons in the NFL following his release from the Denver Broncos. The nine-year veteran would have been $1 million richer Thursday had he not be cut a day before he was due a roster bonus. "I might have a new helmet on for the next few years, but when it's all said and done I'm coming back here," Graham said in an interview from his backyard a few miles from Broncos headquarters that features a majestic view of the Rocky Mountains. "I can't wait to just retire and be back here in Colorado."

ProFootballWeekly.com - Money not the only factor in Broncos' release of TE Graham
A source close to the team said he expects the team to add at least one, maybe two, tight ends before the start of the season. The Broncos already have 2009 second-round draft pick Richard Quinn on the roster, who is considered more of a blocking tight end, and need to bring in a couple of dual-threat players at the position.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Broncos release DTs Williams, Bannan
Williams had played nose tackle his entire career and, at the age of 34, the organization was likely unsure of how well he would fit into a 4-3 defensive scheme. Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has stated that he wants a quick, athletic defense, and Bannan doesn't exactly fit that mold.

NFL NEWS: GENERAL

Report: NFL not honoring original deal to relocated Super Bowl fans?
According to a Wednesday story on WFAA.com, the other 2,000 fans are being offered less than they originally expected. A settlement package sent to ticket holders Monday said they can either receive a check for the face value of their tickets or a free ticket to any future Super Bowl game.

NFL.com Blogs " Blog Archive Pick Six: Raiders’ all-time draft busts "
The Raiders have parted ways with guard Robert Gallery, who was regarded as one of the bigger draft disappointments in Raiders history. But was he the biggest? Well, I think we all know he’s not going to be No. 1. But here is a look at the top six draft busts in Raiders history.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Owners who wield most clout in labor talks
We've broken them down into three groups demonstrating what their bargaining weight is in relation to getting a new deal done. It should be noted that the owners' 10-man labor committee — co-chairmen Jerry Richardson of the Panthers and the Broncos' Pat Bowlen; plus the Bengals' Mike Brown, the Chiefs' Clark Hunt, the Cowboys' Jerry Jones, the Patriots' Robert Kraft, the Packers' Mark Murphy, the Giants' John Mara, the Steelers' Art Rooney II, and the Chargers' Dean Spanos — has had final say on the issues through the home stretch of the negotiations. But throughout the process since the owners opted out of the current deal in 2008, several owners have made their voices heard. Here's the list of all 32 teams' voices:

ProFootballWeekly.com - Raiders letting Gallery go
Gallery may not have lived up to his hype over the years, but he was still the Raiders' best O-lineman. The unit is one of the team's weak points, and with Gallery gone, expect the Raiders to add someone in the draft. Gallery could join the Seahawks, who need help on the O-line, where he would be reunited with former Raiders head coach Tom Cable.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Holmgren considered coaching Browns
Holmgren has never completely closed the door on a return to coaching, and now we know he was contemplating a return to the sideline in 2011. In the interview with KJR-AM, Holmgren, as he has before, indicated he's committed to leading a turnaround of the Browns in his current role — but he wouldn't say he was done coaching.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Redskins sign S Atogwe
The Rams released Atogwe to save money, and the Redskins now have a very solid secondary with Atogwe, Landry and CB DeAngelo Hall. The Redskins were 31st in passing defense in 2010.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Chargers sign S Sanders
The Chargers boasted the league's top passing defense and overall defense but lost defensive coordinator Ron Rivera to the Panthers. They are taking a chance with Sanders, who has never played a full 16-game season, but if he could stay healthy, he definitely could help San Diego's secondary. This could affect S Eric Weddle, who is set to be a free agent.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Bears restructure Peppers' contract
The Bears have restructured the contract of DE Julius Peppers, creating more cap space for the team next season, according to multiple reports Thursday.

Vick will be able to keep only a fraction of franchise money | National Football Post
According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Vick was allowed to keep $300,000 of the $6.8 million he earned with the Philadelphia Eagles over the past two seasons. That’s the not-so-hidden fallout from his federal dogfighting case that led him to spend a year-and-a-half in federal prison. When Vick filed for bankruptcy in 2008, he cited debts ranging from $10 million to $50 million. Per the report, he still owes creditors about $20 million.

NFL Network would continue to interview and host players in a lockout | ProFootballTalk
Given that Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com recently reported that team-owned websites will likely be prevented from talking to players, it’s hardly a stretch that league-owned properties would face the same restriction. If that happens, however, it won’t arise from a decision by the league to treat the players as off limits. "We will continue to invite players to be guests on NFL Network and will continue to interview them as well," NFL Network spokesman Dennis Johnson told PFT via e-mail.

NFL DRAFT

College Football Players' Criminal Backgrounds Probed - NYTimes.com
A surprising number of players at top college football teams have criminal records, a new investigation revealed. Seven percent, or one in 14, of 2,837 athletes whose pasts were checked had police records, according to a six-month investigation by Sports Illustrated magazine and CBS News.

Is Newton's draft stock up or down? | National Football Post
Since Sunday, when Cam Newton threw the ball at the combine, his draft stock has been all over the board. And that is exactly what can happen when a prospect doesn’t meet the hype in Indianapolis. The Auburn QB didn’t throw the ball well, and we could all see that. Issues with his footwork, accuracy and overall technique when he was asked to simulate a drop back action and deliver the football.

ACC showcases its speed once again | National Football Post
The ACC is used to the taunts and the putdowns nationally for its poor performance in nonconference play and lack of standout seasons from its traditional powers. But one thing the league has over every other conference is speed — at least at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Seeing double | National Football Post
NFL scouts are acknowledging that Maurkice’s success with the Steelers as a rookie is hard to ignore when they are assessing his twin brother. "Even if it’s subliminally, his brother’s success is a factor," said one AFC college scouting director. "The fact that his brother played so well so quickly and has been a good character guy, a leader and shown maturity all reflects well on Mike. And everyone you talk to down at Florida loves both of them."

Clemson's DaQuan Bowers, Jarvis Jenkins met with 14, 17 teams | National Football Post
Clemson junior defensive end Da'Quan Bowers met with 14 teams at the NFL scouting combine, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation. One of the most coveted NFL draft prospects, Bowers is coming off postseason knee surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus.

NFL Draft BUST-O-METER: #15 Nick Fairley - Mocking The Draft
Player: Nick Fairley- DT- Auburn BUST-O-METER: 5 out of 10 Projected Draft Range: #1 overall - #6 overall

2011 NFL Draft pro day schedule - Mocking The Draft
As these really start to get going next week, we'll have a quick daily preview spotlighting the most important players and schools to dig for news on. Today's top players to look out for are Baylor's Danny Watkins and Phil Taylor and Utah State's Curtis Marsh. All three could be top 100 selections. After the jump, find the full schedule of pro days (as we know it). If you see a discrepancy somewhere, please say so in the comments.

Source: Newton "perfect" in Indy team interview - CBSSports.com
I pointed out that Newton could do well in his team's interview and then struggle in another (or several), but the source referred to specific questions asked and that the offensive coaches in the meeting later characterized Newton's answers as "perfect."

23 teams watch Taylor, Watkins at Baylor Pro Day - CBSSports.com
The official start of the Pro Day season was today with 23 teams traveling to Waco, Texas to watch a handful of former Baylor Bears work out only two days after the annual Scouting Combine shut down. Baylor's top two prospects -- defensive tackle Phil Taylor and offensive guard Danny Watkins -- stood on their Combine performances, but worked out "extremely well" in positional drills, according to Gil Brandt's sources . Taylor's strength, length and surprising overall athleticism could make him a first round pick. I am currently projecting him to be the Jets' choice with the 30th pick , overall, of the first round. I'm also quite high on Watkins, listing him among my top players on the Big Board.

NFL LOCKOUT

10 things you need to know about a possible NFL lockout - Michael McCann - SI.com
When coupled with an indefinite stoppage in negotiations, decertification will also mean that various rules that the NFLPA and NFL have agreed to through collective bargaining would lose the protection of the "labor exemption". The labor exemption immunizes collectively-bargained rules from federal antitrust law, which bars agreements unilaterally imposed by competitors -- in this case, NFL teams, which compete on the field and in many ways off the field -- that are more anticompetitive than procompetitive. Antitrust law is particularly threatening because in private antitrust lawsuits, such as in one brought by NFL players against the NFL in a post-NFLPA decertified world, damages are automatically multiplied by three. Under antitrust scrutiny, the NFL salary cap, free agency limitations and the NFL draft could be deemed illegal, since they are agreements by competing NFL teams to limit competition for players' services and they harm players' salaries and employment autonomy. The logic is that players are in the best position to maximize their earnings if they are not limited by external constraints, such as salary caps or restrictions on when they may become free agents.

NFL's CBA talks enter do-or-die phase - NFL - Yahoo! Sports
Sources on both sides of the conflict agreed on one basic premise: If enough progress is made that another short-term CBA extension – perhaps a week, perhaps two – is announced by Friday night, the players and owners will almost certainly be headed for a settlement that will result in a multi-year deal before the end of this month. If not, as one person familiar with the negotiations put it, "It will be Armageddon." The union will decertify and file a class-action, anti-trust lawsuit against the owners, who’ll issue a legal challenge to the validity of the act while implementing a lockout (or de facto lockout). A long, bitter standoff would likely ensue, and the 2011 season could be threatened.

NFL owners' false labor pains - ESPN Dallas
Yes, many of the players are diamond-coated knuckleheads. But have you ever met Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder? He's worth $1.1 billion and yet, two years ago, the Redskins sued a 73-year-old grandmother for not keeping up on her season-ticket package payments. This man also got caught buying stale peanuts from a defunct airline and reselling them at games. For the owners to lock out the players at this time in American history is unconscionable. You don't like the players? Fine. There are still nearly 9 percent of Americans out of work. Think of the people who've lost their homes, lost their cars and can barely pay the rent. Watching an NFL game on a Sunday -- and getting ready for it all week -- is sometimes literally the only thing keeping them going.

Game Theory Of The NFL Negotiations: Expect More Extensions - SportsMoney - news on the business of sports - Forbes
As this drama unfolds, it seems to me a classic application of "Game Theory." "Game theory" is a field of advanced economics which attempts to analytically assess behavior in strategic situations in which an individual’s success in making choices depends on the choices of others. Almost any collective bargaining negotiation can be classified as a "sequential game," as each side tries to strategically decide (a) when they must make a move and (b) how will their opponent react to the various elements of our proposal.

N.F.L. Runs Afoul of Judicial Nemesis Doty on TV Deals - NYTimes.com
Thanks to the ruling on Tuesday by David S. Doty, we know that the league made deals to hold onto all but $421 million of more than $4 billion in network payments if there is a lockout next season. And thanks to the ruling, we know that NBC felt the league was "hosing" it with its monetary demands and that DirecTV will pay the league more if there is a lockout than if there isn’t. That, one would argue, is marketplace power. But Doty might be a bigger power than the league. He signed off on the league’s free-agency system in 1993 and has overseen every labor deal since.

Standard & Poor’s revisits NFL’s situation after "lockout insurance" ruling | ProFootballTalk
In a press release sent to us by S&P, the rating agency concludes that, without the ongoing network payments in a work stoppage the league has "sufficient resources to fund its fixed obligations for up to one year if there are no games played in the 2011 season." The bills would be paid, in S&P’s estimation, by "accumulated cash reserves, available lines of credit, or other forms of liquidity." S&P points to the fact that "income from suites, club seats, and advertising accounts for 50% to 80% of stadium revenues," and that the contracts "typically require payment even if football games are not played," even though the suite/seat holders may be subject to credit once games resume. S&P also says that the league has been "building a strategic reserve . . . on behalf of each team."

Extension applies only to labor negotiations, not league business | ProFootballTalk
Contrary to reports that business may continue on Friday, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the only thing that will continue are the labor negotiations. No other league business may be done. And since the NFL business day ends at 4:00 p.m. ET, the 2010 league year already has ended. The only question is whether another extension will be negotiated, whether a new CBA will be negotiated, or whether a lockout will be imposed. As a practical matter, then, a non-lockout lockout essentially has begun. Teams can’t sign or re-sign or cut players. The only thing that keeps it from becoming a full-blown non-lockout lockout is the ability of coaches to talk to players.

Slapped in the Face With a $9 Billion Pie - NYTimes.com
This bizarre game of chicken has unfolded during a fragile economic period. At a time when millions have lost their jobs, health benefits and faith in the American dream, pro football players and team owners are waging a battle in a league that, thanks to the fans, prints money. Yet it seems that the fans are being smacked in the face by indifference and insensitivity by each side.

Turn Off TV if NFL Owners Show Up Wearing Jerseys - NYTimes.com
The NFL is so popular that five million or so viewers tuned in for at least a few moments last week to watch young men in spandex lift weights and race around pylons at the league's annual scouting combine. We're not talking about practice, mind you, but guys practicing for practice.

Minn. Judge at Center of Power in NFL Talks - NYTimes.com
His rulings have rankled the owners, who at times have alleged favoritism toward the players, and the one he issued this week as the collective bargaining talks headed toward Thursday night's deadline may force the NFL to give up some $4 billion in TV revenue. But attorneys and others who know him well say Doty is one of the fairest judges around, one who operates a professional proceeding and doesn't let outside pressures — be they NFL heavyweights or rumors of a contract taken out on his life — influence his decisions.

"Fair" Shares in the NFL | The Sports Economist
The expiring CBA pays players just under 60 percent of revenues. At first glance, that appears to be a great deal for owners. After all, labor’s share of total revenues (national income) across all industries is in the 70-75 percent range. On the low end, labor shares in the equipment-reliant agricultural sector can be below 40% and above 80% in labor intensive sectors. Pro sports, unless I’m missing something, appears highly labor intensive. Yes, there is brand name capital for teams and the league along with facilities (where they get major subsidies) and equipment, but 60% seems an outright bargain. Even further, owners pay out 60% of adjusted revenues, which lops off about $1 billion in an "expense credit" (See Sports Business Digest) right off the top. If this were included in revenues, then labor’s share falls down to 53% — a downright steal. Right. Maybe not.

Sports Business Digest – Renegotiate the CBA? The NFL needs to put the numbers on the table.
Now, some may argue that the expense credit shouldn't count towards the owners revenue because the money covers costs, it doesn't add to profits. But, on the other hand, if the expense credit helps cover expenses the owners would be obligated to pay even without the credit, how can you argue it doesn't create more income or revenue for the owners? Of course, the fact that the revenue picture is made a little more clear doesn't in and of itself mean that the CBA doesn't need to change; the players do bring in the lionshare of the total revenue...maybe the owners need the money? Although if that is the case, the players probably aren't willing to take player revenue back into the early 80's,

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