Procrastination will give way
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With roughly a week to go before the first NFL training camps open, the Dallas Cowboys and their first round pick, wide receiver Dez Bryant, finally cracked open the door that could lead to a number of the top 32 selections from the 2010 NFL draft signing their contracts.
There are a number of reasons why contract negotiations this year have been particularly slow -- with virtually all stemming from the fact that owners and the NFLPA are preparing for a showdown over the collective bargaining agreement and little having to do with the actual individual players (and their agents) involved.
NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith hinted at collusion between NFL owners. NFL Executive Vice President and general counsel Jeff Pash disagreed in a recent radio interview, giving the country's current economic concerns and the impact the as-yet undetermined CBA will hold over these rookie contracts as the main reasons for the lack of first-round signings so far.
As is often the case, this isn't a black and white issue, but one with varying shades of gray. The owners are likely to be aligning their stances as they grudgingly hand out one final year of the hugely disproportionate rookie signing bonuses, so Smith has a good point. The NFL and its teams' owners are not so wealthy that they don't feel the pinch of the current economy. Sure, they're still among the wealthiest men in the world, but with ticket sales down in many markets, some are understandably concerned that they won't remain as such.
In reality, the pressure of competition and time will ultimately lead to teams and the rookies working together. There may be a few more holdouts this year than normal. But, perhaps just as likely, expect the number of first-round picks walking through the team facility doors to go from a trickle to a flood in the next two weeks.
Hey, the ultra-wealthy owners and ultra-athletic players drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft are a lot like you and I. Procrastination and excuses -- even legitimate ones -- only push away the inevitable for so long.
July 23, 2010; 10:09 AM ET
Collective Bargaining Agreement
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