NFL Signings 2011: Offseason Chaos Fun Now, Costly Later?
This week has been the most bizarre in the history of the NFL. Except for maybe the fallout from Ricky Williams and Mike Ditka appearing on the cover of ESPN the Magazine dressed as bride and groom.
Because of the lockout all the salary cap-related cuts, all of the significant trades, and all of the unrestricted free agency movement is happening at the exact same time.
Now I know that's not really cool for league and team officials who have to handle the paperwork and crunch the numbers, and it can't be too much fun for reporters who have to tweet and post constantly—lots of fail whales out there?—but all the activity should be pretty exciting for fans. At least for now.
Is there a sport and a league that obsesses more over small details and exhaustively researches every single angle imaginable more than the NFL? No.
Given the week-long underwear Olympics (aka the NFL Draft Combine), or the obsessive film study, or the minutiae associated with the weekly injury report—how much difference is there really between "doubtful" and "questionable," anyway?—it's hard to imagine even a single decision is made by the NFL or it's teams without hundreds of hours of preparation.
You get the feeling that NFL teams hold focus groups and hire consultants just to determine the exact height to the millimeter a stadium's urinals should be off the ground.
That's why it's so weird to see this chaotic wheeling and dealing go on right now. Now it's not necessarily that players are being cut for cap reasons, or that rookie contracts have to be figured out, or that free agent deals have to be negotiated.
It's more that they are all happening at once. In the past there was a cap-cutting period, followed by free agency, followed by the draft, followed by signing of rookies.
I doubt that front offices and coaching staffs are operating with the same type of confidence and with the same type of thought processes as they would have had their been no lockout. The lack of sleep probably doesn't help either.
Now that this is all happening at once I think teams are prone to more mistakes. A club may sign a player out of desperation, being this close to the season and not having a number two receiver or a nickel corner, rather than making an informed, prepared decision.
You'd think that since all 32 teams are dealing with this landscape it's a level playing field. But since we know some teams have better decision makers at the helm (Pittsburgh, New England, Green Bay) than others that's not the case.
Plenty of clubs are going to look back at this week with serious regret.
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