"The Sunday Five" is a loosely-titled piece where I talk about five NFL- or Browns-related topics related to this past week. In today's edition, we mostly take a look at the topic that is single-handedly dominating NFL blogs around the country: the path toward the end of the NFL Lockout.
When it comes to the NFL Lockout, talks are no longer stalling. This past week, some of the major unresolved issues were agreed upon, including a rookie wage scale, the dismissal of the free agent right-of-first-refusal concept, the salary cap for 2011, and less intensive offseason programs. Things are not completely resolved yet. As ESPN points out, players want to reclaim lost benefits from last season, want the franchise tag to be amended so it can only be used once, and workman's compensation. There is the retiree fund issue too. Are any of those issues going to stop the season from being played? I highly doubt it.
Players and owners are scheduled to meet with Judge Boylan to report on the developments that have been made. They'll also consult with him to see what else they need to do prior to the league meetings on July 21st. That date is important because the expectation is that a vote will take place on that date to ratify the collective bargaining agreement. I fully expect positive news to come out that day, followed by an explosion of coverage on rumors related to free agency, and immediate preparation for training camp. Hopefully camp will be open to the public still, because that always represents a great way for fans to get pumped up for the coming season.
If the lockout does end on July 21, then we need to take a look back at The Transition Rules, which may or may not be accurate. Either way, I'm sure they represent a general guide of what we should come to expect. Two big dates right off the bat? July 25 (Monday) and July 28 (Thursday). The first date is when undrafted free agents could be signed, something Tom Heckert should be well-prepared for. The second date is when the league year starts. That means regular free agency would open, and teams training camp could commence. You might be seeing ten updates a day with how much news will be coming out during that time.
The Browns had their first full squad minicamp last week for three days in which close to 40 players reportedly showed up. It was the first time the Browns' offense was able to practice the West Coast Offense with some defensive players on the field, and it was the first time the defense was able to work on some things related to the 4-3 defense. The thing that should really help our defense make the quick transition is the presence of veteran players with experience in the system, like Scott Fujita, Sheldon Brown, and Chris Gocong. Adding a pair of defensive linemen or a safety should help too. Then, how many players besides maybe Ahtyba Rubin or Marcus Benard really need to make a significant adjustment?
This James Harrison is a character, isn't he? He sure made for some entertainment this past week after an interview with him came out in a magazine in which he trashed Roger Goodell big time, and threw in some digs at Ben Roethlisberger and others. He released an apology too, but who is going to take what this guy has to say with much sincerity? When something is said, apologies really don't do much; he'll need to repair his image over the course of several years, something I don't see happening.