Upcoming NFL Labor

January 11, 2011 | John West

I have been doing some reading into the upcoming NFL lookout, focusing on the predicament of the upcoming free agents. This is going to be an interesting story. First, some history.

In 1987, the NFL had work stoppage and played with replacement players. Back then, there was no NFL Free Agency. That didn’t start until Reggie White went to Green Bay in the early 90’s. So, when they agreed to a deal, the teams took a couple of weeks to get ready, and they played. This labor problem is not going to be as easy to come out of for the players.

Let’s look at one possible scenario. Say that the lookout ends on Sept 1, 2011, with games scheduled to start on Oct 1, 2011. That leaves each team a month to put a team on the field. The only way that happens is if you start practicing on Sept 2, or very close to that date. There simply isn’t enough time to have an entire free agent signing period in a couple of days of even a week. Right now it takes months. There is NO way to do it in a couple of days.

What I have been reading is that any agreement this year will include a 1 year freeze on free agency, just for the 2011 season. This means that wherever you played in 2010, you will be forced to go back to that team, if the team wants you. Moving forward, free agency will resume at something very close to what it is now.

I really don’t see any way at all that close to 500 NFL free agents can all sign in a day or two. The union seems to understand this and so does management. Agents are furious over this problem, but that’s no surprise.