It’s near decision time for the NFL to get on board with the life and move on. For the past 100 and so days, the NFL and NFLPA, headed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, has been meeting in and out of court to, at least, come up with an agreement in principle to help ultimately end the lockout.
After the past several weeks of speedy negotiations as players and owners met privately in hotels in Chicago, New York and Washington D.C. to agree on a deal, the NFL lockout will be over within a week or two and this purgatory of an offseason will finally have a place.
The primary order of business after the lockout is over will be the signing of free agents, along with scheduling the following weeks to set the 2011 NFL season in order.
“We’re very fortunate to have a lot of great players who will be in high demand,” said Eric Metz, who has been an agent for 27 years who represented the likes of wide receiver Joey Galloway, offensive tackle John Fina, guard Ruben Brown, defensive end Luther Elliss and others, according to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.com.
“You’re a little more optimistic in those situations. The major concern is the volume of players in the market, just the number of players who are going to be out there.”
However, the losers among this negotiation war may be the drafted individuals for the 2011 NFL Draft, due to their inability to workout and perform in mini-camps and OTAs in front of coaching staffs across the league to proof their worth.
The higher draft picks, mainly from the fourth round and up, are practically safe to make their team’s roster. But it is the fifth to seventh rounders that are at risk of not being able to showcase their skills after being selected to at least display their abilities to make their dreams come true.
Fifth to seventh round selectees are not guarantee to make the team, let alone make the practice squad, as their selections are nothing more than a guarantee workout spot for the franchise that choose them.
The NFL lockout has been a blessing in disguise for many injured individuals, like Washington Redskins safety LaRon Landry, who had injuries to his Achilles and wrist, who are rehabbing and healing from injuries sustained the previous season. On the other hand, the lockout may have hampered the progression of many players, due to not having a coach or trainer pushing and training them to be productive on the field for their franchise to be successful.
A playbook—which many players obtained after the lockout was invalidated by U.S. District judge Susan Richard Nelson on April 25, allowing teams to resume to league operations to only have the lockout reinstated four days later on April 29 by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals based off the NFL owners’ appeal—can do but so much.
While most players are safe and have a sense of knowing what to do and what to expect, the lower drafted rookie honestly are the individuals who are left out.
To attempt to make things fair or to give the lower draftees a shot to make the team that selected them, each player should automatically make to team, whether being on the active roster or placed on the practice squad.
Moreover, keeping the lower drafted individuals on the squad could actually work, even after signing veterans and undrafted free agents.
The average amount of selections for each NFL team from the 2011 draft was seven. Between three to four players will make the roster, while the others can be placed on the practice squad, which is set with eight individuals, but a team could have nine athletes on that squad, provided a player living outside the United States.
The veteran or highly skilled athletes could still signed, while the undrafted players could also have a shot to make a team. If a drafted player does not work out into September or October, they can be released to create an opportunity for another individual who is more skilled.
The one thing that could play in favor for undrafted players, especially for the drafted individuals, is that they would not come with a high price tag.
“Who’s going to want to pay $1 million to an eight-year guy at the end of his career when they can get a guy for $330,000?” Metz said. “You can have three impact special teamers making what the veteran at the end of his career is making.”
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
The opportunities for the lower draft selections are there, if teams want to exercise this possibility. Nothing against the undrafted free agents, but the selected many from the 2011 NFL Draft should be given the first opportunities because they were the individuals noticed and teams placed their stamp on them in the beginning.
The race to get the season on board will come swift like a theft in the night. The lower draftees may be forgotten through of this, as teams will quickly begin to get their roster intact and their players up to speed as the 2011 NFL season draws near.
Who knows, a franchise’s need could be resolved as there could be a Terrell Davis (a sixth rounder), Marques Colston (a seventh rounder) or a Tom Brady (a sixth rounder who was selected by his peers as the best NFL player for the 2010 season) sitting and waiting in their mist. And if they were cut before truly given a chance and venture to another squad, it would be a shame.