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Tribal Warfare
02-28-2011, 02:28 AM
Despite labor uncertainly, NFL draft is sure thing (http://www.kansascity.com/2011/02/27/2686653/while-nfl-labor-dispute-creates.html)
By ADAM TEICHER
The Kansas City Star

INDIANAPOLIS | A sense of gloom permeated the proceedings at this year’s NFL scouting combine over the league’s labor issues. The collective-bargaining agreement between the owners and players expires Thursday night, and negotiations toward a new deal offer little hope for a quick resolution.

A lockout by the owners or decertification by the players union and a court fight loom, threatening just about everything to come — free-agency, offseason practice, even the season itself.

But the efforts by teams at the combine will count for something. Among all the uncertainty, one thing is for sure: There will be a draft in April.

Teams are plowing into their preparation as if it will be the only event of the year.

“Right now we do know there will be a draft,” Arizona Cardinals general manager Rod Graves said. “We’ll approach the draft as if that’s the only thing we have to focus (on).”

The situation isn’t that simple. Teams, including the Chiefs, have to plan for every contingency. The free-agency signing period, scheduled to begin Thursday night, could begin at a later date or not at all. Potential restricted free agents will receive tender offers this week just in case.

But teams also know that the draft may be the only way to acquire players and fill roster holes this year. That puts an even bigger premium on what has long been the league’s major offseason event.

“This stuff about free-agency, I had to deal with that back when it came in,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said. “Everybody said it would negate the importance of the draft. I said it would make the draft even more important. I believe the draft is the critical part of the equation. That’s been proven out over the years to be 100 percent accurate.”

The potential loss of a free-agent market this year has more impact for teams that either have fewer than the usual number of picks or rely heavily on veteran signings.

The Chiefs don’t fit either profile. They have seven picks, including the 21st overall. They have one pick in each round except two in the fifth and none in the sixth.

They have a stated commitment to build through the draft and last year found five players who contributed significantly as rookies. But they have also been active in free-agency, last year adding running back Thomas Jones and offensive linemen Ryan Lilja and Casey Wiegmann.

“It’s no different for us,” general manager Scott Pioli said. “We’re getting ready for the draft the same as we do every year. Regardless of what happens, we have to do a good job. The importance of it doesn’t change for any reason.

“Everybody is going to build their team the same way that they believe. You’re going to have the draft. You’re going to have free-agency. None of this is going to go away. At some point everything is going to be done (with the collective-bargaining agreement).”

Nobody is certain when that day will come, so teams are going to go with what they know.

“You don’t know what the free-agent situation is going to be this year,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “Is there going to be free-agency?

“If you don’t have those answers, I think what you have to do is go into your draft room and draft like you always do every year. I think you have to look at the big picture and not just, ‘Uh-oh, if we don’t have training camp, do we need a guy that’s ready to play today?’ I think if you start trying to answer questions with draft picks in the short term, you’re going to get beat in the long term.”

Perhaps the only sense of comfort is that all 32 teams are heading into the same uncertainty together.

“I think the lockout, the potential lockout, would be an interesting situation for everybody,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. “It could be a different offseason for us. You just have to respond to the situation in front of you, and that’s everybody’s responsibility.”

WhitiE
02-28-2011, 05:18 AM
Yes Teicher

KurtCobain
02-28-2011, 05:33 AM
Did someone just tell him this?

WhitiE
02-28-2011, 05:35 AM
Did someone just tell him this?

Bet it was DaFace