Posted by Josh Katzowitz
UPDATED 4:32 p.m. ET: From the Twitter account of NFL spokesman Greg Aiello:
"Re: reports that if forced by courts to operate w/o consent of players, rules for 2011 could be different than 2010 rules: here is our reax: Our goal has at all times been the same – to operate under a negotiated set of procedures that are agreed to by the clubs and NFLPA. The current litigation has created a significant amount of uncertainty and we are therefore considering a wide range of alternatives depending on developments."
Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal reports that the NFL is working on free agency rules for the 2011 season that “would be very different from 2010.”
As Kaplan writes on Twitter, though, no decision has been made to go forward with those potential new rules. And if the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals does not overturn Judge Susan Nelson’s lockout injunction, the NFL still could choose to revert to the 2010 rules if and when it has to begin the 2011 calendar season.
The biggest difference in the 2010 free agency rules was that a player had to wait until after his sixth year before he became an unrestricted free agent (as opposed to after four years in the previous salary-capped seasons). For players who had four accrued seasons after 2009 and would normally have become unrestricted free agents, a reversion to the 2010 rules for 2011 would be the second-straight season they would be restricted in their free agency.
As the NY Times reports, the ending of the lockout also could allow the NFL to create more stringent drug testing rules, because there would be no union to stop it.
Roger Goodell already is on record as saying he wanted blood testing for human growth hormone, and this might be a good opportunity for him to do it (even though many players would vehemently disagree with that decision - unfortunately for them, they have no union to negotiate on their behalf).
“Our thought has been we have always been looking to make our program as effective as it can be,” an unnamed N.F.L. executive told the Times. “There have been some things, H.G.H. is one of them, that the union has resisted. When we get to the point where there is not a party involved, maybe we should consider what we consider important to keep pace with science and trends.”
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