Dave Krieger has been a guest-host on 850 KOA since 2005. Now, Dave is heard every weekday afternoon on The Dave Logan Show.
"I've had a blast as a guest host on 850 KOA over the past several years and I'm grateful for the opportunity to join their team on a full-time basis," Krieger said. "I look forward to partnering with Dave Logan, a friend for more than 25 years, in the competitive landscape of PM drive. As I've recently discovered, thanks to the web, 850 KOA's reach now includes the entire country."
Since 2009, Dave was a popular columnist with The Denver Post. Before that, he spent 27 years with the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News as a cityside reporter, Broncos and Nuggets beat writer and longtime sports columnist. He won various state and national awards during a newspaper career that spanned 36 years.
Dave was named the 2011 Colorado sportswriter of the year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. He also won the award in 2010 and 2009 and shared it in 2008 with former Rocky Mountain News colleague Tracy Ringolsby.
The Broncos have already been accused by one national analyst of "steamrolling" Elvis Dumervil's former agent, Marty Magid, so John Elway would rather not get into the details of the most famous fax faux pas since . . . well, since fax machines became functionally obsolete about twenty-five years ago.
But Elway wants it known that the heart of the matter is pretty simple: The Broncos gave Dumervil a deadline of March 15 at 1 p.m. mountain time to accept their final offer to restructure his existing contract. When that deadline arrived, Dumervil's answer was no. In Elway's mind, the comedy of errors that followed only confirmed why that deadline existed in the first place.
Elway joined the Dave Logan Show on Monday for a wide-ranging interview about free agency and the draft, and we spent the first few minutes discussing the Dumervil episode.
I started by asking whether the Broncos remain interested in veteran pass rushers Dwight Freeney and John Abraham, free agents they've looked into as possible replacements for Dumervil, who had eleven quarterback sacks last season and 63.5 in six seasons with the Broncos (seven if you count 2010, which he sat out with an injury).
"We're still looking into that," Elway said. "We haven't made any decisions on what we're going to do. As I've said, those guys out there are options, but the bottom line is we also feel very comfortable with Robert Ayers. He's going to be at the right end -- as of right now he's our starter at right end. We're not pressed into doing anything. We feel like we can go to bat with the guys that we've got if that's where it ends up, or, if other things shake out, we'll go that direction."
I mentioned the report KOA got from a source close to the situation that Magid, Dumervil's former agent, had an old fax number for the Broncos, so when he tried to fax a signed contract back to the club at the last minute following Dumervil's change of heart, he couldn't get through in time.
"The thing that I'm going to tell you is we had a deadline at one o'clock, and I'm not going to take it any further," Elway said. "We needed a decision at one o'clock. We got that decision that was a 'no' and they were not going to accept it, so therefore we started moving on.
"From that point on, we knew that there was always going to be a difficult time to get everything and all the pieces together to be able to get the contract in. That's why there was a one o'clock deadline put on that. What happened after that, whatever it was, who knows. But the bottom line is there was not enough time to be able to get it done."
Last week, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and NBC Sports came on the program and criticized the Broncos for allowing the negotiations to drag on so long that the deadline for guaranteeing Dumervil's original deal even came into play. The 1 p.m. March 15 deadline was one hour before the Broncos had to file a revised contract with the NFL office or be liable for a fully-guaranteed 2013 salary of $12 million under Dumervil's old contract. I asked Elway why it all came down to the last minute.
"Because . . . nothing comes down unless there's a deadline," he said. "Especially in this situation. We had a deadline. That's why it took the whole week. . . . Until the deadline, a lot of times you can't get that decision. The sad thing is it took a while to get that decision and by the time we got it, it was too late."
Florio's suggestion on his web site that the Broncos steamrolled Magid and now face trust issues from other agents -- he based the latter claim on quotes from a single, unidentified agent -- is not supported by the facts. Florio's chief complaint is that the counterproposal the Broncos sent to Magid at about 10 a.m. mountain time on March 15 converted a $3 million guarantee for 2014 to an injury-only guarantee.
But there's no evidence the Broncos were trying to pull a fast one. Rather, that counterproposal was the result of a Magid counterproposal increasing the 2013 salary in the restructured deal from $6.5 million, the Broncos' proposal, to $8 million. In their final offer that morning, the Broncos essentially said, "OK, we'll give you the $8 million in 2013, but in exchange for that concession we're going to restrict the guarantee we had offered for 2014."
Dumervil had three hours to mull that over before the deadline. His answer, as Elway related it, was no. Then, after the Broncos' deadline had passed, with the league deadline looming, Dumervil had a change of heart and decided to accept the restructured deal after all. But Magid was unable to engineer the logistics in time and the Broncos, without a signed contract in hand by the NFL deadline, were forced to release Dumervil to avoid guaranteeing the $12 million salary in the only contract the NFL had on file.
Even after that, with Dumervil on the free-agent market, the Broncos made a new offer of a three-year deal, reportedly worth $18 million -- $8 million the first year and $5 million each of the next two, with a total of $10 million guaranteed. Dumervil chose instead to sign the Ravens' offer of a five-year deal with $8.5 million the first year and a total of $12 million guaranteed.
Logan asked Elway if, after everything that had happened, he still thought the Broncos had a chance of retaining the defensive end after releasing him.
"I thought there was a chance, there's no question," Elway said. "When we looked at it, once the Cinderella slipper came off and we had to release Elvis, it was free game and he was a free agent. He was out on the market. We thought we could be competitive there, and obviously Elvis made the decision that he thought was best for Elvis. We wish him luck there and we'll move on, too."
In retrospect, what happened seems clear enough. The Broncos decided that Dumervil's original contract, offered by a previous regime headed by coach Josh McDaniels, was too rich. With the advent of Von Miller, Dumervil was no longer the Broncos' best pass rusher. The Broncos thought his value was roughly half the salary he was scheduled to make this season.
Dumervil had a hard time accepting this, but with the free agent market not yet open, he had no way of judging the market for pass rushers. As it turned out, it was only slightly higher than the Broncos' initial offer. In any case, he seems ultimately to have reconciled himself to a pay cut, but wanted it to be less than the 46 percent cut for 2013 the Broncos had proposed. He got the Broncos up to $8 million, a 33 percent cut, but in exchange was asked to accept the injury limitation on the 2014 partial guarantee.
The fact that he turned down this compromise initially indicates his lack of enthusiasm for the revised deal. The fact that the Broncos' three-year offer after he became a free agent was worth less in the aggregate than the restructured contract Dumervil originally turned down indicates the Broncos weren't that enthused about the restructured deal either, thinking it still overpaid Dumvervil in the out years.
In short, the two sides never agreed on Dumervil's current value, so it may well be better for both that the deal fell apart. But one lesson from the affair became indisputable when Dumervil fired Magid the day after the fax faux pas:
If you're transmitting legal documents on a deadline, and you're doing it by fax for some reason, check in advance to make sure you have the right fax number.
In their never-ending quest for a veteran starter who can eat innings and provide leadership, the Rockies traded for Jeremy Guthrie a little more than a year ago. The move was a disaster on many levels.
Guthrie went 3-9 with a 6.35 earned-run average before being unceremoniously shipped off to Kansas City at mid-season. The Rockies paid a reported $7.1 million of his $8.2 million salary for this embarrassing performance.
Worse, Guthrie visibly freaked out trying to pitch at Coors Field, doffing his cap to the crowd sarcastically after one brutal outing and suggesting to the outside world that the Rocks' home ballpark can drive a normal pitcher crazy. Or, at least semi-normal in Guthrie's case.
In effect, the Rockies traded Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom, whom they shipped to Baltimore for Guthrie, for broken-down Jonathan Sanchez, whom they received from Kansas City as a consolation prize when they got rid of him. Hammel was good, if fragile, for the Orioles, starting 20 games and going 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA. Sanchez was even worse than Guthrie for the Rocks, going 0-3 with a 9.53 ERA.
So when the Rocks went back out on the market a year later still looking for a veteran starter, they were a bit hamstrung. To pay major dollars to a starter who had never pitched in Colorado was now a verb. They did not want to be Guthried again. When I asked reliever Matt Belisle, who has thrived at Coors Field, how you can tell if a pitcher has what it takes mentally to pitch there, he said candidly that there's no way to know until he does it. Not very comforting in a game in which every contract is fully guaranteed.
So the Rocks passed on the expensive free agent pitchers and seemed prepared to enter the season with what they had until Seattle obligingly released Jon Garland near the end of spring training. It was a little puzzling considering that in four spring starts for the Mariners, he'd given up three runs and 10 hits in 12 innings for a 2.25 ERA. If those results weren't good enough, it's not exactly clear why Seattle signed him in the first place.
"I was actually a little surprised, but then again, there's more than just baseball, there is a business going on and they have to value certain things and certain moves that they're going to make," Garland said on the Dave Logan Show. "You know what, it came down to them making that decision and there's no hard feelings there. Things work out for a reason and Colorado was able to pick me up and give me an opportunity."
A first-round draft pick by the Cubs (tenth overall) in 1997, Garland is a 6-foot-6-inch, 210-pound horse who has taken the ball every fifth day for most of his career. He has made at least 32 starts in a season nine times.
In eight seasons with the White Sox -- this just in: the Cubs made a bad trade -- he won 92 games, including back-to-back 18-win seasons. Since then, he's bounced around, always earning double-digit wins -- 14 for the Angels in 2008, 11 for the Diamondbacks and Dodgers in 2009, 14 for the Padres in 2010 -- before suffering a shoulder injury in 2011. He had surgery and was out of baseball in 2012, which is why he had to begin the tryout process all over again this spring. Still, he certainly looked healthy in his spring work for Seattle.
"The arm's doing good," he said. "I had the surgery in 2011 and took all of 2012 off to rehab and get it stronger. Being in the position I was in, pretty much already throwing a career, that was kind of a luxury that some guys don't have. But so far this spring, everything's been really good. It's been responding well. It's been bouncing back really well after games. To me, that was the biggest key coming in. I knew it was strong and I knew we were going to be fine, it was just how would it respond after a game, after throwing four, five, six innings and being ready for the next bullpen and the next game. And it's done really well."
Garland has thrown at least 190 innings in nine seasons, 200 or more in six. In his lone start for the Rocks in Scottsdale, he threw six innings and gave up one run. At 33, if his shoulder is sound, he should have plenty left in the tank.
"I want to make all my starts and I want to give the team a chance to win every time I'm on the field," he said. "If I can get to the 200-inning mark, I think that would be a good accomplishment because that means you're staying out on the field and the manager thinks you're pitching well enough to give the team a chance to win."
OK, fine, but what about the elephant in the room? What about Coors Field?
"I think that's the biggest problem starting pitchers (have) coming in there, is they start to worry about it," he said. "Is the ball going to carry? What's going to happen here? My overall feeling is if you keep the ball down and you throw strikes and you work quick, you're going to get outs regardless of what stadium you're in.
"I think the biggest thing is just try and maintain that hydration there in Colorado because you don't really bounce back as strong. But I think overall just the fact that people go in there and they hear so many bad things, I mean, I've played in parks that played smaller than that and the ball's carried just as good. So, like I said, if you keep the ball down and you throw strikes, it doesn't matter where you're at, you're going to get outs."
Unlike Guthrie, who had never started a game at Coors Field until the Rockies acquired him, Garland actually has a little experience with the barnyard on Blake Street. He's started three games there -- one in 2009 as a member of the Diamondbacks and two in 2010 as a member of the Padres. In the first, he pitched seven innings and gave up three runs. In the second, he pitched six innings and gave up four runs. In the third, he pitched seven innings and gave up three runs, two of them earned. Overall, that's an ERA of 4.05, very respectable for the ballpark sometimes mistaken for a pinball machine.
If it weren't for the shoulder issue, you might question whether Garland should be subjected to the pitch counts the Rocks imposed last season in an effort to keep their pitchers healthy. Reportedly, last year's 75-pitch count will be relaxed to 90 or thereabouts this season. Garland threw 102 in each of his first two starts at Coors, 86 in the third.
On the other hand, he wasn't pitching there regularly in those days and there is the matter of recovery he mentioned -- starters don't tend to bounce back quite as quickly at high elevation. Coming off major shoulder surgery, Garland is a health risk, which is probably why he was available to Colorado in the first place.
Familiar with Rockies personnel from his stints pitching for Arizona, Los Angeles and San Diego, Garland believes the club will be formidable offensively so long as its two cornerstones, Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, stay healthy.
"As an opposing pitcher coming in and facing a lot of these guys, when they're healthy and they're right, it's a damaging lineup," he said.
"You have to be careful up and down that lineup and you have to makes sure to get the guys at the top of the lineup out. Otherwise, you can be in big trouble each and every inning. But I think the biggest key for this lineup is keeping Carlos Gonzalez and Tulo healthy. You keep those two guys healthy, everybody around them becomes better players. They start seeing better pitches, they start getting a little more selective, getting on base a little bit more and it all kind of gets rolling from there."
However it works out, the Garland acquisition is thoroughly low-risk for the Rocks. His one-year deal is worth $500,000, so if he flames out, it's not a big financial hit. A younger former first-round pick, Drew Pomeranz, is waiting in the wings just in case.
Garland's experience pitching at Coors Field means it won't be a complete shock to his system, as it was to Guthrie's. And his history as a volume innings-eater suggests that if his repaired shoulder holds up, he just might be that stable veteran the Rocks have been looking for.
Here's a list of NFL receivers, most of them now out of the league. See if you can find the one that doesn't belong.
Not that hard, was it?
It's no secret that NFL scouts, personnel executives and general managers are in love with the triangle, the three measurables that ostensibly tell them about a prospect's ceiling as an NFL player. They are height, weight and speed, the numbers even many fans now follow rigorously during the NFL scouting combine. The triangle has become so important in scouting evaluations that the combine, once considered a boring set of drills and tests, is suddenly must-see TV for true football fanatics.
As the above list indicates, it is not unusual for a college wide receiver with great measurables -- big, strong, fast -- to be selected in the first round of the draft and then produce an underwhelming pro career. Nor is Wes Welker alone among those who have been overlooked and gone on to produce big pro numbers. Rod Smith was an undrafted free agent who turned into the best Broncos receiver of all time.
So the fact that the triangle is far from an infallible predictor is not breaking news. But Welker is one of the most obvious examples of why. At 5-9, 185 pounds, he was decidedly small. Repeatedly clocked in the 40-yard dash at 4.6 seconds and above, he was not exceptionally fast. "Small and slow" will get you crossed off a lot of lists. And frankly, when you see Welker in street clothes, "football player" is not the first thought that comes to mind.
All Welker had going for him was a history of making big plays.
During his junior and senior years at Texas Tech, he gave NFL scouts plenty of notice of what was to come. His uncanny ability to get open produced 86 catches for 1,054 yards as a junior and 97 catches for 1,099 yards as a senior. He scored 31 touchdowns in his college career -- 21 as a receiver, eight as a punt returner and two as a rusher.
Nevertheless, Welker was generally viewed by NFL scouts as a college player without the size or athletic ability to make it at the next level.
This is pretty much what college coaches thought four years before. A native of Oklahoma City, Welker attended Heritage Hall High School, where he was named Oklahoma high school player of the year by USA Today and the Daily Oklahoman in 1999. He scored 90 touchdowns in high school playing offense, defense and special teams. Oh, he also kicked field goals.
Nevertheless, he was viewed as just another high school kid without the size or athletic ability to play major college football. It didn't help that Heritage Hall competed in Class 2A -- the second lowest -- in a state with six high school football classifications. He thought he'd get a scholarship offer from Tulsa, but it never came. On National Signing Day, he had no offers.
"I was thinking I'd get a scholarship offer somewhere," Welker told USA Today. "When it didn't happen when it was supposed to, on signing day, I was pretty hurt by it."
A week later, Lenny Walls walked away from his scholarship at Texas Tech, choosing Boston College instead. A week after signing day, Mike Leach, the new coach at Texas Tech, offered it to Welker.
"When you saw him, he was slow and not really big," Leach told USA Today. "But he just had a great sense of the field and how to play football."
Welker thrived in Leach's spread offense, but the NFL scouting report was familiar. In fact, he was so far off the league's radar he didn't even get an invite to the combine, where they collect the measurables that were working against him anyway.
As an undrafted free agent, his background as a kick returner helped him find work. The Chargers signed him as a returner, then released him after one game when somebody else they liked became available on the waiver wire. Marty Schottenheimer later called it one of his biggest personnel mistakes.
Miami picked him up and kept him for three seasons. The Dolphins used him as a returner and slowly opened up opportunities for him to get on the field as a receiver. In his third season he had 67 catches for 687 yards, offering a glimpse of the production he would make routine in New England.
Welker caught Patriots coach Bill Belichick's eye with nine catches for 77 yards in a Patriots 20-10 victory over the Dolphins in 2006. Belichick reportedly considered giving him an offer sheet as a restricted free agent that offseason. Instead, he offered Miami a second-round draft pick (and, ultimately, a seventh) for Welker and acquired him that way.
In his first season in New England, Welker teamed with Tom Brady to lead the NFL in catches with 112 for 1,175 yards and eight touchdowns. The Patriots went to the Super Bowl.
In six seasons in New England, Welker caught 672 passes (an average of 112 per) for 7,459 yards (1,243 average) and 37 touchdowns. He blew out a knee in the final game of the 2009 season, tearing both his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments. He came back in 2010 as if it had never happened, catching eight passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener.
After all this proof that expert talent scouts have been wrong repeatedly about Welker, not that much changed when he became a free agent this season. He was far from the most prized receiver on the market.
Mike Wallace, a third-round draft pick by the Steelers in 2009, got a five-year, $60 million free agent contract from Miami, a reported $30 million of it guaranteed. Greg Jennings, a second-round pick by the Packers in 2006, got a five-year deal worth a maximum of $47.5 million from Minnesota.
Welker got a two-year deal worth $12 million from the Broncos. The $6 million annual average puts him behind more than 20 NFL receivers, even though he's had more catches than any of them over the past six seasons.
So last week I asked him if all these skeptics and doubters over all these years have fueled him.
"They get me out of the bed every morning," he said.
I'm told they're trying to come up with a new test at the combine that will somehow capture intangibles that the scouts keep missing in the lengthening list of NFL stars passed over when the blue-chip athletes are selected at the top of the draft. Of course, such a test wouldn't have helped scouts discover Welker because he wasn't even invited to the combine.
Now 31 (he'll turn 32 in May), Welker will never be the league's highest-paid or most highly-valued receiver. But for a guy who fails every test of the sacred triangle, he's having a pretty nice career.