Lockout victims: Ten teams being hit hardest

by | CBSSports.com Senior Writer
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The NFL lockout is good for no one. Players don't benefit from it, the league doesn't benefit from it and a public eager to watch Chad Ochocinco at something besides MLS tryouts and bullriding doesn't benefit from it. Nevertheless, it's here, and it's here to stay as long as the courts block an injunction to lift it.

That is not good for someone like the Philadelphia Eagles, who are and have been ready to trade backup quarterback Kevin Kolb. With a lockout there can be no trades, no signings, no free-agency movement, no nothing. So the Eagles are handcuffed, and they're not alone.

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There are plenty of clubs hurt by the lockout, and not because they can't cash checks but because they can't move or acquire players. Naturally, you'd include any team with a first-year coach or rookie quarterback, but the field is larger than that -- which is why I include the following 10 when I think about teams that have been hit hardest:

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles would like to resolve the Kevin Kolb Thing sooner rather than later, but they're paralyzed until the lockout ends. Already it cost them a first-round pick in last month's draft, and, granted, that's the price of doing business in 2011. Now, of course, compensation is down to 2012 picks, veteran players or both, and while I believe that Kolb is dealt, the Eagles aren't going to trade him just to make a move. Eagles' coach Andy Reid values Kolb so much he made him his starter after Donovan McNabb left, but an injury and the play of stand-in Michael Vick sent Kolb to the bench, making him expendable. The guy is under contract for another season, meaning the Eagles could keep him as insurance against the inevitable injury to Vick, but they're more likely to launch a pre-emptive strike, dealing him to a club that needs a starter and gaining something of value while they can.

The Eagles know who's interested. The NFL allowed them to talk to suitors when the lockout was lifted last month. But they can't budge, which means Kolb wonders what impact the lockout has on his trade value. My guess is it has none. You either need a quarterback or you don't, and there are plenty who want Kolb. But Kolb isn't the only issue here. The Eagles have a new offensive line coach, a new defensive line coach and a defensive coordinator who used to be ... get this ... the team's offensive line coach. Just wondering: You think Juan Castillo will need time to make an impact on defensive players? Me, too. But the lockout won't allow it.

Seattle Seahawks

Quick, now, who's the Seahawks' starting quarterback? Matt Hasselbeck? He's a free agent and turns 36 in September. Charlie Whitehurst? I saw what you saw last season, and let's just say that I don't think he's the answer, either. So who is? Well, that's why the Seahawks are on this list. Pete Carroll has a pro football team; he just doesn't have a starting quarterback, and, no question, the longer the lockout lasts the more it hurts clubs like Seattle -- which, by the way, also operates with a new offensive coordinator. Meet Darrell Bevell, and, no, he will not talk Brett Favre out of retirement.

The Seahawks would like to make a commitment to somebody, but good luck in this environment. They're waiting for the courts to deadlock this stalemate, just like the rest of us. Except most of us know what we're doing this fall and how we're doing it.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals have three returning quarterbacks on their roster, yet none is qualified to take them to the top. That's why they're waiting to pull the trigger on a trade for someone like Kolb or sign a free agent like Marc Bulger. Whatever is out there is probably better than what's in the Cardinals' camp, though John Skelton shows promise. One problem: The longer the lockout lasts the shorter the Cards' coaching staff has to work with whoever quarterbacks them next season. If it's Skelton, no problem; he was there last year. But my guess is that it won't be Skelton. It will be someone new, and look how long it took Donovan McNabb to adjust in Washington. OK, so he didn't ... which is precisely my point.

The longer this goes on the more Arizona gets crippled at the most important position, and there are few teams that need a starting quarterback more urgently than the Cards. Solve the position, and maybe, just maybe, they take a run at the top of the NFC West again.

Washington Redskins

There are a couple of unresolved issues the Redskins would like to tidy up: 1) The Donovan McNabb saga and 2) the Albert Haynesworth saga. I can't imagine either with the team this season, but as long as the lockout persists they go nowhere -- which means they continue as distractions. Neither is especially marketable. McNabb turns 35 this year and is coming off his worst season; Haynesworth is 29, but he hasn't done squat since pulling down a $100 million contract from Washington. What he has done hasn't been good, with Haynesworth suspended by the team, involved in a traffic altercation where he allegedly punched another driver and charged with sexual abuse, and that's all in the last year.

The guy is in so much turmoil that former Washington star Dexter Manley offered to counsel him. I have no doubt Washington resolves this, but in the meantime ... here we go again ... who quarterbacks these guys? John Beck? That's the scuttlebutt around D.C., but you must be kidding. He couldn't cut it in Miami, and the Ravens let him walk. I know Shanahan knows how to develop quarterbacks, but Beck isn't exactly clay in Rodin's hands. He turns 30 this summer and hasn't thrown a pass in over three years. If Washington is serious about making him The Guy, it would be nice to have him working the entire offseason with Shanahan.

Carolina Panthers

Maybe no one is hurt more than the Panthers because they just invested the first pick of the draft in a quarterback, Heisman-Trophy winner Cam Newton. Naturally, the sooner Newton is in camp the sooner he starts to absorb the Panthers' offense and settle in as the franchise quarterback. But there's nothing to absorb when you don't have a playbook to study, a coach to consult or a practice to attend. Jimmy Clausen is supposed to be the safety net here, acting as the veteran (he has one year of experience) while Newton learns on the job. Except it's a new coaching staff and a new offense, which means it's a whole new ballgame for Clausen, too. Great.

The worst team just got dealt a bad hand. The Panthers didn't draft Cam Newton to adorn their bench. They want him to start because they need to put people in the stands, and Newton will do that. But his value diminishes the longer the lockout lasts for obvious reasons: You can't develop something that isn't there.

San Francisco 49ers

Having Jim Harbaugh as the 49ers' new head coach is intriguing; having a new head coach and no quarterback in place is not. San Francisco drafted Colin Kaepernick in the second round and considered taking him somewhere in the first, but let's be honest, people: He is not ready to play now, and he may not be ready a year from now. He needs to sit and learn, but school is out indefinitely. There's a lot of talk about Alex Smith returning to the 49ers, but, for the life of me, I can't see why. I'd think six years would convince him and the 49ers that a change is necessary for each.

Besides, the club made it clear that Kaepernick is its quarterback for the future, so Smith would be keeping the position warm until coaches were convinced Kaepernick was ready. I don't know when that is. All I know is that a new coaching staff has no bona-fide starting quarterback and can't groom its second-round draft pick. The 49ers have a rich history of quarterbacks, with Albert, Tittle, Brodie, Montana and Young its best and brightest, but there's no one of consequence since Jeff Garcia left following the 2003 season. That needs to change, and change is good -- except when you can't make it. The 49ers can't. Not now they can't.

Tennessee Titans

It would be nice to see how new offensive coordinator Chris Palmer schools Jake Locker and if Locker can play more as he did in 2009 than 2010. But there's nothing to see, and that will hurt Locker and, eventually, Tennessee. The Titans made him the eighth pick of the draft because they believe he can step in tomorrow and start, but his chances of succeeding are compromised the longer the lockout drags on. It's a new quarterback with a new coaching staff, and that makes things hard on everyone involved. Granted, Locker has the benefit of having a good offensive line, an elite running back and a historically solid defense behind him, but this is all about time he and the coaching staff don't have together.

Minnesota Vikings

Another new coaching staff with a rookie quarterback it believes can start ... only it will take time that neither has now. Christian Ponder is in a position not unlike Locker, with a decent offensive line, an elite running back and a historically sound defense. So he can grow on the job, as Joe Flacco did as a rookie in Baltimore, only there's one big difference: Flacco had already been through a minicamp by now and was huddling with coaches.

The foundation that is critical to the development of a young quarterback is absent, and the longer the lockout lasts the more logical it becomes that teams like Tennessee and Minnesota sit their rookies and have a veteran open the season at quarterback. Minnesota is an ideal landing spot for McNabb, and he'd be a perfect bridge to Ponder ... but there is nothing happening on that front, either, because nothing can.

Houston Texans

This is all about Wade Phillips and installing a 3-4 defense where there wasn't one. Phillips is one of the top defensive coordinators anywhere, and he could be just the right guy to solve the NFL's worst pass defense. Heck, he pulled San Diego from 31st in overall defense one year to 11th the next season, with the Chargers making the playoffs. That could happen here, but it will take a major change -- and, yeah, I'd consider moving Mario Williams to outside linebacker a major change.

I just remember how much I thought Dom Capers could do for Green Bay when he took his 3-4 there, and he didn't disappoint. Nevertheless, it was a growing process, with defensive-end-turned-linebacker Aaron Kampman lost in the transition. Installing a new defense takes time, and there's no use repeating the mantra again. Get ready for cramming, Houston.

Cleveland Browns

Let's see, defensive coordinator Dick Jauron is turning the 3-4 into the 4-3, right? Well, maybe. The Browns say they'll play both. OK, but let's agree there's a different direction there. There's a new offensive coordinator here, too. And a new head coach. And a young quarterback. The Browns were one of the league's toughest outs last season, but they wilted down the stretch, with president Mike Holmgren deciding it was time for a change. So change they have. A new offense. A new defense. And Colt McCoy at quarterback. I liked McCoy a year ago, but he wilted down the stretch, too -- seemingly a different quarterback after returning from an ankle injury. New coach Pat Shurmur was hired to make him better and to bring a pulse to an offense that ranked 29th overall and 31st in scoring. That could take a lot of OTAs that aren't happening.

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