While the focus of the NFL is currently on the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, there are questions that may be coming soon testing the waters if the league and the players association can reach a tentative agreement to allow the trading of players currently under contract.
Without a collective bargaining agreement, the current deal expires Thursday, there can be no signing of free agents. But what about players that are currently under contract?
There has been a lot of discussion, especially as it pertains to quarterback, that could potentially open the door for players still under contract to be traded. Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb are two primary examples of the scenario. McNabb is clearly on the way out in Washington and Kolb would appear to be the odd man out in Philadelphia with the Eagles committing to Michael Vick with the franchise designation. There would be considerable competition among teams in need of a quarterback if those players were to become available in the trade market.
A negotiated settlement on that issue may not be possible, considering that both sides are drawing a line in the sand in the ongoing CBA talks. But the draft has consistently been an opportunity for teams with disgruntled players or players that have value in the trade market to be shopped for draft picks. Under the current scenario, trading such players would be impossible – minimizing the impact of those players once an agreement is reached. If the CBA talks in their current form drag past the draft, any such trades would have to be for 2012 draft picks, which would be of little benefit to either side. The Eagles, for example, would be highly unlikely to trade Kolb if they would get no immediate compensation for the 2011 season.
In the recent past, some of the biggest draft-day moves have involved trading disgruntled players for premium draft picks. In the last two offseasons, players like Jay Cutler, Anquan Boldin and Brandon Marshall have all been shopped for draft picks, which have been win-win scenarios for both teams involved.
Unlike many of the other issues that separate the league from its players, the ability to trade players under contract for draft choices could be a negotiated exception to the rule. There would be a mutual benefit to the owners and the players under such a scenario. Nearly 25 percent of the players are free agents that will be unable to sign with anyone after March 3.
Given the current impasse the two sides find themselves at, it is unlikely either side will give in on the issue, but a negotiated settlement of trading players under contract for draft picks is something that might be easier to accomplish than it may appear – and could be the precursor to getting the ball rolling and getting a settlement done sooner than later.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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