League New Year Poses Many Challenges

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The lockout will end this week if not today, if you believe the talk of the mainstream media.  Yesterday, Adam Schefter tweeted, “Welcome back football“.  For all the betting there is, it seems that sometime in the next 10 days we will see football again.  With that will come major changes to the way teams conduct business and a flurry of activity will greet teams and coaches alike.  From free agents to veterans trying to hold on to their jobs.

For fans, it will start off as a whirlwind of signings and the excitement of training camps.  After three months of NFL drought fans will have something to talk about other than labor discord.  While we as fans will be watching the waiver and pick-up wires like hawks, the business for the NFL teams is going to be more crazy than simply adding players to the roster.  Regardless of where they come from.

It will not be business as usual.

It would be nice to assume that the Miami Dolphins have a plan in place for the upcoming hell week.  Free agents they have to target, the NFL has not released a list of all free agents to the teams yet, their own free agents, the undrafted rookie class and so on.  Even the rules of how they can sign players has changed and they all have only hours to digest it all before they start spending their owners money.

The real challenge will be getting players into the facilities.  We all think, “o.k., the players can simply show up and start working out”.  That’s not the case.  From seasoned veterans to new rookies to street free agents, so much more will go into getting back to normal.

Let’s take a look at the trainers.  They will need to meet with each player individually.  A physical will need to be given to each player, injuries that occurred during the lockout assessed, players with injuries from last year examined.  Players will need to have their weight checked and a plan put into place immediately for the upcoming start to training camp.  Workout routines and weight lifting schedules will need to be implemented, as will nutritional plans where needed.

The coaches will all have to meet with the players as well.  Find out what they have been going over and answer questions that they may have, design practices around the new rules that prohibit two-a-day full contact practices, equipment managers will need to get the equipment past out and assigned.

It will be decidedly harder for late round draft picks and un-drafted rookies to make NFL rosters this year.  With more money flowing to veterans and more emphasis being put on teams to keep veterans as opposed to having them be salary cap casualties, rosters will not find much room for those youngsters.  Without the off-season workouts as well, those in that class of rookies will find it almost impossible to unseat players who have been in these systems for at least a year.

So while we as fans may get discouraged when news isn’t flowing as fast as we like over the next week, let’s remember that there could be upwards of 90 players on the Miami Dolphins roster by the start of training camp…and none of them have visited the Dolphins training facility since March.

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