Morning Links: Broncos Lock Up Champ, Panthers Tag Kalil
CHAMP RETURNS TO DENVER:
Champ Bailey agreed to a 4 year deal for over $40 million to return to the Denver Broncos. Denver has now locked up one corner position, but still has a serious need at the other spot. While it is pricey this is a great deal for the Broncos, as they couldn’t afford to lose one of their few star players. The contract should also give Denver flexibility for the future as Bailey is set to make $15 million this season, meaning his remaining three years will be below market value. I like it when teams front load a veteran’s contract so he isn’t overpaid when his skills decline. While some might say that the $15 million is too much, but the franchise tag for corners is in that market, and Bailey is easily one of the top 5 corners still in this league. One interesting thing to note is the fact that Bailey cited the labor uncertainty as to why he resigned now. This could lead to a small wave of signings heading into early next week when the CBA expires. I wouldn’t expect many more big names, but some solid starters and role players might decide they want to resign now before the market is potentially flooded.
PANTHERS FRANCHISE CENTER RYAN KALIL:
In a bit of a surprise move the Carolina Panthers decided to place the franchise tag on center Ryan Kalil. Now it isn’t to say that Kalil isn’t a franchise (aka top 5 center), but rather they deemed him more valuable than either RB DeAngelo Williams or DE Charles Johnson. Now logically it makes sense to use the tag on an offensive lineman over a running back like Williams. Williams is a very talented running backs, but backs typically have shorter NFL careers, and the Panthers are still pretty well set in the backfield. The more surprising move is letting Johnson hit free agency. Johnson came out of Julius Peppers shadow quite nicely and was an elite pass rusher for the Panthers. And in fact was probably their most dominate player last season. His 11.5 sacks were 8 more than the next closest player on the Panthers, and was part of a 3-way tie for 7th in the league. Whats even more impressive is the fact that he did it on one of the worst defenses in the league, with zero help from the interior of the Panthers defensive line. The Panthers have some defensive end depth, but they weren’t able to find a consistent starter opposite Johnson, now they need to replace him? The other thing that makes placing the Franchise tag on Kalil odd is it guarantees him a top 5 offensive line salary (the average of), which includes all offensive linemen. Like it or not, centers are never viewed in the same light as tackles so now the Panthers have to pay their center tackle money. A case can be made to make Kalil the highest paid center, but to put him on par with the league’s top OT’s is a bit of an overpayment.