Broncos closing in on retaining Dayne


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Jan 22, 2006
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Broncos closing in on retaining Dayne
By Lee Rasizer, Rocky Mountain News
March 6, 2006

The more things change on the NFL labor front, the more they stay the same on the Denver Broncos' roster.

The team Sunday appeared on the verge of finalizing a multiyear contract with running back Ron Dayne.

And while the Broncos had to get under the salary cap last week with three major cuts, they generally have kept their promise to retain their own players from last season's team that reached the AFC Championship Game.

Dayne would follow center Tom Nalen, defensive end John Engelberger, safety Sam Brandon and left tackle Matt Lepsis in a group the past few weeks that could have entered the free-agent market but instead decided to stick with the Broncos.

Dayne's agent, Len Rowe, said the deal was "getting close" Sunday afternoon and had better than a 50-50 chance of being completed by the end of the evening after more discussions.

Dayne, 27, signed a one-year contract for the veteran minimum last off-season and became a valuable spare part in the Broncos backfield.

He rushed for 270 yards on 53 carries, with his best game a Thanksgiving performance at Dallas, where he set up the winning field goal and scored his only touchdown of the season.

Dayne's role figures to increase this season after the release of Mike Anderson, and he gives the team veteran insurance with knowledge of the system. Anderson last season accounted for 1,126 yards, primarily while sharing time with Tatum Bell, and Dayne could assume that load.

But not all of the Broncos' contract talks were proceeding with similar haste.

There has been little substantive discussion the past several days between the Broncos and the representative for defensive tackle Gerard Warren, their most pivotal free agent still unsigned. The uncertainty in the collective-bargaining process, including widely divergent possibilities as to where the salary-cap limit will fall, has led both sides to take a wait-and-see approach.

Warren's agent, Joel Segal, insisted there still is a "strong chance" his client will return to the Broncos, despite the holdup.

"Gerard wants to come back, but due to the tentative nature of the labor situation, we've been taking it slowly," he said before talks between the league and the union broke down Sunday night. "You can't negotiate not knowing what you're negotiating. How do you do it?"

There's a good chance, too, Warren could enter free agency to gauge his value in what could be a thin group of defensive tackles. But that wouldn't preclude him from returning.

The Broncos are expected to finalize agreements with two other pending free agents, long-snapper Mike Leach and linebacker Keith Burns, soon after the signing period begins.,2777,DRMN_23918_4518194,00.html
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