This article was originally intended to examine the free agents that could be targeted by the Detroit Lions. However, due to the momentous events surrounding the imminent end of the NFL lockout, I decided to try to get a handle on what will be the busiest week ever for the Lions organization.
One observation can be taken as a cosmic truth: Never in the history of the NFL will there be such a sense of urgency for every team as there will be this week.
It’s Monday, and from all appearances, the CBA looks to be a done deal. Once ratified by the player‘s executive committee, the NFL will distribute the official free-agent list to all teams.
The NFL will hold conference calls with general managers, and later, the coaches. It will be the ultimate crash course on how business will be conducted this year.
The Lions will unlock the gate to the player's entrance as early as Tuesday morning.
Tuesday’s opening is crucial. The players will attend classes on team rules, league rules and get an overview of training camp. The reporting players will take physicals, then take the NFL conditioning test.
Lending even greater importance to Tuesday’s schedule is that the Lions will be free to re-sign their free agents, sign drafted rookies, negotiate with (but, not sign) undrafted rookies, open trade negotiations and hit the league-wide free-agency market.
So much to do, and so little time to do it.
The Lions will start training camp on Thursday—another key day. The Lions can cut veterans. The coaching staff will be challenged to identify who is out of shape, whose injuries will curtail their immediate participation and make adjustments to practice plans.
The efficiency and planning of the Lions front office will be put to the test. Obviously, GM Martin Mayhew has to parse out the workload to assistants who will be earning their spurs under Mayhew’s watchful eye.
He will likely be dealing with making offers to the free agents that Detroit covets, and finalizing trades that have been percolating surreptitiously.
No doubt, Lions President Tom Lewand, and his staff will roll up their sleeves and pitch in. It’s all hands on board for a Chinese fire drill.
The coaching staff will receive the NFL’s commandments via conference call, then will launch into a mad dash to make preparations for tomorrow’s onslaught of returning veterans and rookies (after they have signed on the dotted line).
What will be the protocol for free agents like CB Chris Houston, and DE Cliff Avril? They, along with the veterans under contract, will be expected to sign their NFLPA union cards at team headquarters as the first order of business.
I would imagine that these free agents will be directed to an area (ostensibly to sign their union cards) that brings them into incidental contact with coaches in a “Gee, fancy meeting you here!” sort of feeling out as to their intentions.
The Lions free agents will either go upstairs and stand in line to renegotiate their contracts, or head back to the parking lot and wait for offers from other teams.
The coaches will do tag-team classroom training on Tuesday, and even Wednesday to get the players under contract up to speed on league rules, team rules and the attendant consequences for non-compliance.
With classes attended, the players will take their team physicals, give urine and blood specimens and do medical follow-up interviews (where applicable).
Next, the medically cleared players will undergo the NFL conditioning test out on the field. This grueling test will give the coaching staff the information they need to accurately assess the individual player’s physical condition as well as the overall physical condition of the team as a whole.
With conditioning test data and medical evaluations in hand, the coaching staff will tweak their practice schedule accordingly, and simplify their playbook.
Now, with everything more or less in place, the coaching staff will get down to the serious work of coaching up players on systems, schemes, assignments and techniques.
Nary a moment to waste.
Now, if you felt a sense of urgency in the closing gambits of the CBA testosterone showdown, I think that you would have to agree that the sense of urgency this week has grown to manic proportions.
In the hour since this article was published the NFL has announced that all training camps will open on Friday.
Mike Sudds is a syndicated Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Mike is also an analyst and correspondent for DraftTek.com.
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