Monday, July 11, 2011

Sports Quick Hits - Hard Labor Edition

Happy All-Star Break to all baseball fans out there; hopefully your team has played better than my Reds have of late. Just to let you know, if you're missing Chizzy, he's still in preparation for the bar exam, and probably won't be back until August, so you'll have to bear with me for the remainder of the month. I myself am thinking about taking the plunge into law school...yikes, right? But that's a ways off still, if I go through with it. Onto more sports related things, and perhaps some of the best news we've received yet in the NFL Lockout, so we'll start and end there, as there's not much news going on in the sports world besides the lockout this week.

Reports surfaced today that a new CBA could be reached between the players and owners in the NFL lockout, and could be ratified by owners as early as July 21st. In order to pass, 75% of the owners, i.e. 24 of the 32, must vote in favor of it. While the revenue-sharing issues amongst owners aren't at the forefront this time around, if I had to bet on two owners who would vote no, it'd be the same two as the last time around: Cincinnati's Mike Brown, and Buffalo's Ralph Wilson.

It's rumored that the last sticking issue, and quite frankly in my opinion, the most surprising, is the rookie wage scale and rookie contract length issue. The owners want to be able to sign first round picks for 5 years, which I get since they're still shelling out big bucks to 21, 22, and 23 year olds who've never set foot on an NFL field. On the other hand, if the current players are getting to free agency after 4 accrued seasons of service, shouldn't it be the same for the rookies? I think so. The players have already made several concessions and hopefully the owners will see that with respect to the rookie wage/contract length issue and not muck up the negotiation process.

Now, with the potential ratification date on the 21st, it appears that the only football lost, other than the 50 plus workouts, OTAs, mini-camps, and rookie tryout camps that have already been lost, would be the Hall of Fame Game on August 7th, between the Chicago Bears and the St. Louis Rams. Here's what the truncated league calendar would look like:

July 21st - CBA ratification and date to start educating teams (i.e. GMs, coaches, players, staff, etc.) on new collective bargaining agreement and voluntary training.

July 25th - Begin signing period for undrafted rookies and re-signing of teams free agents. For example, teams can sign any undrafted rookie free agents, but wouldn't be able to sign others free agents - meaning at this point, teams could only re-sign their own players, the Dolphins couldn't make a call to Ahmad Bradshaw, for example.

July 28th - League Year Opens, free agency begins. At this point, all those players waiting on huge pay days: Nnamdi Asomugha, DeAngelo Williams, Ahmad Bradshaw, Sidney Rice, etc are now set to meet with any NFL team if they haven't re-signed with their 2010 team.

At this stage, most, if not all teams begin training camp. This is typically the normal start time anyway, but they'll have been without said OTAs, rookie camps, mini-camps, etc.

August 2nd - Teams must set max rosters at 90 players.

August 3rd - Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets from their current NFL team. At this point, it would be those players who are slated for free agency that haven't accrued 4 seasons of play.

August 7th - Deadline for teams to match restricted free agent offers in the form of draft picks or player compensation. I don't think there's that many huge restricted free agent names out there, but it could be interesting to watch.

August 12th - Deadline for drafted rookies to sign. I think this is a good step, as it forces both teams and players (and their agents) to negotiate deals quickly. Given the truncated timetable, I'd imagine most rookies are signed relatively quickly once the market is set on rookie contracts. I can't imagine any lengthy holdouts as we've seen over the past few years with players like Michael Crabtree, JaMarcus Russell, and David Pollack.

August 16th - Restricted free agency period ends.

August 29th - Deadline for players to report to camp. If players fail to report they're to be listed in the reserver, non-football injury list, or PUP (physically unable to perform list) until week 6 of the season.

At this point, I think it'd be assumed that the trade deadline would be the same as usual, also typically around week 6 of the NFL season.

All things considered, I think the timetable is fair as it gives each NFL team a chance to take care of the easier things first, like signing UDFAs and bringing back their own free agent players before getting into restricted free agency and teams making runs at unrestricted free agents.

I've still not seen word on franchise tags applied to players prior to the lockout, for instance, Patriots G Logan Mankins. Teams would still be able to use a franchise tag and possibly a transition tag as well, and would get to use those coinciding with restricted free agency's deadlines.

In other news:
Adam "Pacman" Jones was arrested in Cincinnati over the weekend on disorderly conduct charges. Though he claims he wasn't drunk, I've got it on good authority that he's been frequenting a particular bar with fellow Bengal Frostee Rucker, and Reds P Aroldis Champan, and on more than one occasion, Jones has been carried out of the bar and had a cab paid to take him home. I don't think he'll ever learn.

The Women's World Cup Team made it past Brazil and into the semi-finals against France. Go USA, but man, women's soccer is very slow and tough to watch!

I'm not really interested in the Home Run Derby. Much like the NBA's dunk contest, there's hardly ever many big names in it, and without steroids, it's just not the same as seeing Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds just go yard.

Chiefs OLB, and former Patriots OLB, Mike Vrabel will retire and return to Ohio State to become linebackers coach. I wish you well Mike Vrabel, but why go back now? I have to think that most, if not all, of that staff will be gone after 2011 when Ohio State makes a run at Bo Pelini, a former Buckeye, or Urban Meyer, who just moved to Columbus. All things considered though, you had a great NFL career and should do what you want.

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