Before we start circling July 21st on all our calendars let’s first think realistically. Even with an outline for post-lockout deadlines one thing must happen first – a new CBA must be in place and the lockout actually lifted.
As much as ESPN would love to make news of breaking news that hasn’t been broken yet, even they have to know nothing is guaranteed.
With all that being said the proposed deadline schedule does give us an idea of what the Oakland Raiders are up against relative to getting into camp and assembling a team for 2011. Jerry McDonald has a breakdown of all those deadlines here.
Of the deadlines the one that raises the most questions is the window of time allotted to sign rookies.
If this were a normal offseason then it’s a certainty we’d see plenty of first round picks still unsigned. Given the current state of the lockout relative to the 22 day window allotted to sign rookies it should make for a very interesting period once the lockout is lifted.
Thankfully that is one issue that should be of no concern for the Raiders. Since Oakland’s top pick – Stefen Wisniewski – was a second round selection the entire process should be academic.
The player that once upon a time wore #2 notwithstanding, Al Davis generally does his best to get his top picks in camp on time. With no worries of paying a first round pick based on the informal slotting system there is no reason why Hue Jackson won’t have all his rookies in camp on time if said camp actually starts on time.
What is truly remarkable is the either incredible foresight or considerable luck of Mr. Davis with regards to the Richard Seymour trade. Giving up a first round pick for Seymour seemed foolish to the critics but two years later it is paying dividends.
Naturally the best benefit of that deal is Seymour himself. The future Hall of Famer has provided Pro Bowl play on the field and veteran leadership off of it. Those who thought he was past his prime are paying dearly in the form of bruised quarterbacks on Sundays.
Beyond Seymour’s talent the loss of the 2011 first round pick couldn’t have come at a better time. Without a doubt the Raiders could have used more picks in the draft to address more needs. However, by missing out on round one all together money was saved in addition to the entire headache accompanied by the new labor laws. Negotiating rookie deals for anyone picked outside of round one is considerably more efficient and easier.
Now nobody in the national media is going to give Mr. Davis credit for any foresight but I don’t think this is at all coincidence. There were no secrets that the NFL was headed for labor uncertainty in 2011. Given the fact Oakland is already in for some serious cap issues the trouble would have only been heightened by the added pressure of signing a top pick. Hence Davis and company took the initiative to secure top talent while also alleviating themselves of future stress.
Of course that pick that went to the Patriots wasn’t a top 10 selection as most assumed it would be. Even if Oakland had kept the pick there wouldn’t be any stress over committing another $30-million to the likes of a Darrius Heyward-Bey. Either way, the Raiders saved cash and precious time that will be necessary for all the activity that is sure to follow once the lockout is lifted. Now all that remains is for Wisniewski to play like a first round pick. Then we can really give Mr. Davis a huge pat on the back.