Monday, February 7, 2011 11:00 AM
By Rich Tandler
REDSKINS PAGE REDSKINS VIDEO
The end of the Super Bowl marks the beginning of the offseason for the NFL. Here is a look at what is ahead for the Washington Redskins and in the coming weeks and months. The labor situation This is hanging over everything right now. The collective bargaining agreement expires at midnight on March 3 and as of now the owners and the NFL Players Association do not appear to be very close on coming to a new agreement. That doesnt mean that they wont agree by March 3 or sometime shortly thereafter. Now is the time for bold statements, such as union executive director DeMaurice Smith saying a few weeks ago to a meeting of player reps, This is war! There are about 500 players who will are scheduled to be free agents, assuming that the eligibility rules are about the same as they have been since free agency started in the early 1990s. They will be able to sign with their current teams up until March 3 but they will not be able to negotiate with other teams until a labor deal is done. Working a deal with their current teams, however, will be difficult since there is uncertainty about the salary cap outlook going forward. Free agency The Redskins, like every other NFL team, will proceed as though there will be an agreement on or before March 3. The day after the regular season ended, Mike Shanahan said that the coaches would start the process of self-scouting immediately, evaluating the players on the roster. Shanahan said that would take a few weeks and then they would start evaluating players who are slated to be free agents. The Redskins should have the ability to be fairly active in free agency when it does start up. Depending on the structure of the salary cap that emerges from the CBA negotiations, they could be as much as 30 million under the cap and able to create more room by releasing some expensive veteran players such as Clinton Portis or Donovan McNabb. NFL Scouting Combine The combine will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis from Feb. 23 to March 1 regardless of the status of the labor talks. About 330 of the top draft-eligible players will be brought together for days of interviews and medical, mental, and physical tests. This session is important to the Redskins but not as much as it may be for some other teams. Shanahan places much more weight on film evaluation than he does on 40 times and vertical jump numbers. The most important work in Indy could be done by the team doctors. With five of the teams seven draft picks coming in the fifth round or later they might want to gamble on some players who have slipped to the latter stages of the draft due to injury concerns. (Note: CSNwashington.com will have extensive coverage from the combine, check back for details.) 2011 NFL Draft The draft also will take place as scheduled whether there is a CBA in place or not. The Redskins have the tenth and 41st picks and then, as mentioned above, five more picks in the last three rounds. If there is a labor agreement they could pick up additional picks by trading players such as Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb. If we are in a lockout, however, no trades involving players will be permitted. Teams would, however, be permitted to trade picks for picks to move up and down in the draft. Shanahan and Bruce Allen have said that they would like for the Redskins, the sixth-oldest team in the NFL, to get younger over the offseason. Certainly this draft will be a key to getting that process started. One aspect of the draft process that could be affected by the CBA negotiations is the post draft signing of undrafted players. If there is a lockout, that will not be permitted. Three undrafted free agents, kick returner Brandon Banks, tight end Logan Paulsen, and running back Keiland Williams, made the Redskins in 2011. They would be happy to have a few such prospects make it in 2011. OTAs and minicamps These also are up in the air thanks to the labor unrest. Normally there would be a rookie minicamp shortly after the draft, OTAs during May and June and a mandatory minicamp thrown in there somewhere. These sessions will be particularly important if the Redskins do trade or release McNabb as is widely expected. Whether the anticipated starter will be Rex Grossman, a veteran free agent, or a rookie draft pick the repetitions will be important for the new signal caller to get familiar with the offensive system and to get down timing with his receivers. It is widely expected that at least some players will gather and work out independently if there is a work stoppage. Shanahan will make sure that Grossman, London Fletcher and other key players have what they need to make these workouts meaningful. You can reach Rich Tandler by email at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net and follow him on Twitter @RealRedskins. Rich also writes about the Skins at www.RealRedskins.com.