Good morning, all. Yes, in spite of the hang-wringing and incredulous impatience of last night, I really believe today is the day. I think the players didn't like the way the NFL handled things last night, don't want to be forced into re-establishing their union if they don't want one and honestly felt they needed time to look over the deal the owners handed them before agreeing to it. I think all of this is reasonable. And from all I've been told, I have no reason to think any of it will hold up the deal beyond today. Could the players vote no and surprise me? Sure. But I think (a) this is a really nice deal for them and (b) they all want to get back to work. So, in the spirit of justified optimism, we link:
Skip Bayless and Chris Broussard debated on "First Take" on Thursday whether this is a "make or break" season for Tony Romo in Dallas. Skip says it is. Chris says he's nuts. Chris is right. If Romo throws for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns and the defense gives up the second-most points in the league again and they miss the playoffs, how exactly would that be Romo's fault? Said it before, say it again: Romo is the least of the Cowboys' problems.
Calvin Watkins' "Old School" series checks in with Nate Newton, who thinks, among other things, that the Cowboys should have designated Doug Free as their franchise player before the lockout began.
New York Giants
Mike Garafolo listened to Ahmad Bradshaw do an interview with a Miami radio station and couldn't figure out which way he was leaning -- Giants or Dolphins. On the heels of Drew Rosenhaus' comments about Bradshaw and the Dolphins earlier this week, Bradshaw sounds like a guy who wants and expects to be back with the Giants but is trying to use the Dolphins' potential interest as leverage for the best possible deal. Of course, the Dolphins really could use him and could make an offer to lure him away. It was Dolphins versus Giants last year for Antrel Rolle, and Miami was upset to lose out. Revenge?
Giants.com asks who was the Giants' best free-agent signing of the past 15 years -- Kerry Collins, Michael Barrow, Shaun O'Hara, Antonio Pierce, Kareem McKenzie or Plaxico Burress? Honestly, given where they were at quarterback before he signed, I might go with Collins here.
The Eagles are ready to begin training camp next week if the players sign off on the deal, and they still expect to have it at Lehigh.
And we have this latest entry on why it would be better for the Eagles to sign a cornerback who's not as good as Nnamdi Asomugha than it would be for them to sign Asomugha himself. It's twisted logic every time I read it, and yet it's become something of a consensus. Fine. You guys want Ike Taylor, go get him. You just won't be as good as you could have been. I mean, jeez. If Asomugha doesn't fit into the defense you're planning to run, but you can afford him and he wants to sign with you ... maybe you should be running a different defense.
Jason Reid says the Redskins will be one of the teams most affected, in a negative way, by the lost offseason: "The accelerated schedule poses problems for ballclubs relying on inexperienced quarterbacks and those envisioning significant roster turnover, both of which describe the Washington Redskins' situation." I'll add that I also think they're hurt because this second year of Jim Haslett's 3-4 is a critical one in that transition, and they really didn't get to have the offseason I'm sure Haslett wanted to have with it.
Mike Jones lists Kevin Barnes, Keiland Williams, Graham Gano, Perry Riley, Anthony Armstrong and LaRon Landry as potential "breakout" players for the Redskins in 2011. Mike has written on Barnes a lot this offseason, wondering if the Redskins will indeed make him a starting cornerback and address other free-agent needs instead. Worth watching.
All right. More later. It's Friday, so you know we have plenty. But right now I have to go vote on a proposed bowl of cereal, pending the addition of a glass of orange juice.