Finally, after dragging on for more than four months, the NFL lockout is lifted. A new CBA is in place and, since there is no opt out clause like the previous agreement had, we should have a solid decade of football before the next money dance between the players and owners.
I like to think I speak not only for myself, but also for a big swath of weary football fans when I say, ABOUT. DAMN. TIME.
I was going to post a different song, but this just seemed like the better choice.
I can think of all sorts of things to riff on about why it is ridiculous that we've been waiting since March 12 for the lockout to be lifted, and yet, I'm just glad there's finally an agreement. Now we're bracing for a dizzying frenzy of deal-making as teams dash to sign players.
When I was in high school we used to have something called junk scrambles. We'd each haul a bunch of random stuff to the school gym, each class waiting in a different corner until someone in the center would call out some item like a red sock or a blue alarm clock, then we'd scramble through the stuff we'd brought to the gym looking for that item and, if we found it, we'd race to get it to the circle in the center of the gym before the other classes. What we are about to witness is the football equivalent of my high school junk scrambles.
Make no mistake, in the next week players and teams will be working at top speed to ink the best possible deals in a ludicrously short amount of time. When last season ended the Minnesota Vikings had a lot of players who would be free-agents this season, a new head coach, and a whole lot of uncertainty. Whatever the Vikings will look like with the 90-player roster that teams get to have going into training camp this year, it won't be what they looked like last season.
And that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Last season the Vikings tried to recapture the magic of the previous season by bringing back the same starting line-up and we all know how well that worked for them. With the changes to the rookie wage scale in the new CBA, teams may have more money available for free-agents because they won't have to allocate as much guaranteed money to first- and second-round draft picks. This may mean that the Vikings, no strangers to pricey free-agent acquisitions, will have the latitude to make some splashy moves. Vikings fans can likely expect some serious roster overhauls with departing veterans, signing drafted rookies, and haggling with elite free-agents. They better be brewing a lot of strong coffee at Winter Park, because I don't think anyone is going to be sleeping this week.
After months of hurry-up-and-wait, things are going to change fast. And, I can't help but be a little optimistic about that. Chaos can be a great equalizer. Teams like the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers who have a tradition of building through the draft and not over-paying for free-agents are going to have their orderly systems thrown for a loop just like everyone else in the NFL.
It may not be pretty, but it will be interesting to watch. Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready for some football?