Could an NFL owner break rank during or just before the NFL Draft and decide that it's time to make a trade or sign a free agent? That's a legitimate question, because I'm not positive I -- or anyone -- know the answer. But I'm fairly certain it could happen.
Of course, first, a few things have to go down. One, Judge Susan Nelson has to rule -- between now and the beginning of the Draft on Thursday -- in favor of the players on the stay issue as well as clarification of her original ruling . If she does, and it's not a stretch to think that she will, the league may be forced to open its doors immediately and begin the league year.
Pandemonium unlike we've known it could erupt. Or, alternately, teams could take their sweet time making moves to sign players. The latter seems like the most likely situation, because the NFL will still be pushing to get their appeal into the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Also, making a case for collusion, based on the fact that teams didn't sign any free agents amid the hectic few days of the NFL Draft could be a stretch.
Because there are some teams more in need in of making certain moves than others. The Eagles obviously would like to end up moving Kevin Kolb; our own Clark Judge recently pointed out just how coveted Philly's backup remains around the league.
And the Redskins, for example, would probably like to receive some sort of value for Donovan McNabb -- or Albert Haynesworth! -- before they're forced to cut him rather than paying him a roster bonus before he's due, when football actually starts. And they just so happen to need draft picks, thanks to the very trade they made last Easter to bring McNabb in.
And let's not put it past Dan Snyder to "go rogue" either; this is a man currently embroiled in a ridiculous lawsuit with a small-time Washington, D.C., newspaper because he didn't like the way he was portrayed publicly. He'll need someone to play along, should the rank-breaking be a trade and not a free-agent signing, of course. While it seems unlikely Jerry Richardson will bail on his role as lead negotiator to pick up a quarterback, there's nothing to say that another owner running one of the many quarterback-desperate teams wouldn't.
Of course, it seems like the owners are unified. Whereas reports about players splintering into factions have made their way into the public, we've not yet heard anything too concrete about owners arguing amongst themselves. But did you see the utter disorganization that went down on Tuesday when players attempted to make their way into team facilities?
Some teams, like the Giants, let players work out on Tuesday. (But not on Wednesday !) Other teams, like the Seahawks, said no. Jerry Jones stepped up to the mic and provided a not-too-crafted statement about why Cowboys players couldn't come in.
That's the very definition of "factions" -- if the NFL owners were all on a singular page, a concrete policy would have been in place across the league.
Which brings us back to the day of the Draft. Perhaps the NFL is forced to open its doors to players and "get back to work." And perhaps, hypothetically, owners are advised that it's better to wait and see how the appeal process shakes out before making personnel moves.
Do you think, though, that the Eagles front office can resist the possibility of landing a top-10 pick for tomorrow night in this quarterback-desperate landscape that exists? And do you think that anyone can predict what Snyder will do in relation to his payroll and roster decisions when he desperately needs draft picks?
Certainly not. And what would the repercussions be if an NFL owner started wheeling and dealing? The league could fine that team or take away draft picks ... except that would amount to admitting collusion.
In fact, aside from Roger Goodell giving someone a dirty look the next time they were in the same room, the only thing that might happen is the rest of the league following suit and opening up the floodgates for other signings and draft-day trades of players.
And if and/or once that happens, it might be kind hard to bring back the lockout.
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