When the court in Minnesota hands down it’s ruling sometime after April 6th, it for all intents and purposes will support or end the lockout opposed by NFL owners on March 11th of this year.
What happens then? A ruling for the owners means the imposed lockout could go on indefinitely. Players for the first time may have to face the reality that come September they will not receive paychecks – a reality that many have chosen to ignore. That’s not a good scenario for players and surely shifts the balance of power to the owners’ favor.
What’s really interesting is what happens if the judge rules in the favor of the players. Is that really a “win” for them? Football will resume and in the absence of a CBA the NFL may impose any rules they like. Most experts agree that any drastic changes would just give the players ammunition for their anti-trust lawsuit so the most likely scenario would be a season once again governed by the rules in place in 2010 – rules that both players and owners previously agreed to.
A repeat of 2010 means no more salary floor and the owners showed so much collective restraint last year the former NFLPA began accusing them of collusion. You can’t blame them for thinking so when even Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones refused to spend money.
It also means 4 and 5 year players are once again restricted. How does a guy like DeAngelo Williams feel about that? March was Williams’ first opportunity to sign a contract similar to the one Maurice Jones-Drew signed (5yrs, 31 million), a guy drafted 33 spots behind Williams. He will be approaching his 29th birthday this time next year. Will a repeat of the 2010 season shut the free agency window for one of the best running backs in football?
Running backs clearly have the shortest NFL life span but there are many players at every position facing the same scenario. Willie Colon started 54 straight games at right tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only will he miss a second straight opportunity at free agency but he suffered an Achilles injury that cost him the entire 2010 season. At 27, Willie was a promising right tackle. At 29 coming off an injury he is a risk.
Other notable 2006 draft picks effected by April 6th’s hearing include Roman Harper (29 in December), Joseph Addai (29 next May), Lance Moore (29 next August), Dawan Landry (29 in December) and Cortland Finnegan. There is a similar list of 2007 draft picks who may have to wait another season.
The best deal for both sides is to sit down and negotiate a deal but a ruling in favor of the players next week doesn’t look like much of a win in my eyes. Unity among the players is the key to their success and another season in the mold of 2010 is not very attractive to players who have already waited for their opportunity at free agency. It could be the final straw for guys who have already made enormous sacrifices.
NFL Owners Are 'Winning'
Posted on: April 3, 2011 5:51 pm