I took a few weeks off from posting due to personal stuff. But believe me, my interest in the Redskins this year is huge. Maybe it shouldn’t be, given a 6 and 10 season on top of a 4 and 12 season. I believe the ‘Skins will be true contenders in 2012, which means they’ll show measurable improvement in 2011. If the latter doesn’t happen, then I’m dead wrong about 2012 . As I always do, I’ll make that determination in October. I never judge how a team’s season is likely to go until after its 4th game. Too many teams, even half of the good ones, don’t reveal their true selves in September. In the Skins’ case, I happen to believe they’re two drafts and two free agent signing periods away from obtaining the number of quality starters and depth at key positions they’ll need to achieve a 10 and 6 record.
None of this matters of course unless the NFL and its players reach a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) by early March. If they don’t, the owners will vote for a lockout. There’s even a remote possibility we could see non-union players take the field as we did during the 1982 season when the players went on strike. Frankly, regardless of the angry tone we currently hear the players and the head of their union take in public, I expect an agreement to be ironed out. I don’t expect it to be 100% fair to the players, because the owners will stick to their demand for an 18 game season and won’t be inclined to shorten the preseason.
If a longer season doesn’t include a shorter preseason, the limit to the total number of active squad players on a team will have to be increased due to increased opportunities for injuries. Practice squads would likely be expanded, as might the limit to the number of ‘emergency’ players. I could see having an emergency player at every position. Agents may try to insert incentive-based terms into players’ contracts that grant them the option to hold themselves out of preseason games at their own discretion. Can you imagine how Mike Shanahan would feel about that?
Essentially, a new CBA needs to be ratified sometime in the next four weeks to avoid a lockout. I’m not confident that will happen, but I am reasonably confident a new CBA will be successfully negotiated in time for the start of training camps. After all, the owners may not suffer economically if there is a lockout, but the players definitely will. Sooner or later, the owners will get their way.