Tuesday, July 26, 2011
BBAO: Free-agent rules evolving
By Kevin Seifert
We're Black and Blue All Over:
It's already clear that NFL team executives will need their heads on a swivel during this unprecedented transition from the lockout. Here's an example:
Monday afternoon, the NFL announced that teams would be eligible to begin negotiating and signing undrafted rookies on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. But late Monday afternoon, Minnesota Vikings vice president Rick Spielman received a surprise email while waiting his turn at a quick media availability: The instructions had changed. Negotiations with those undrafted rookies were now allowed immediately.
Moments later, ESPN's John Clayton confirmed the news. After answering questions from reporters, Spielman hustled up to a meeting room where personnel staffers had set up a make-shift phone bank to begin the recruiting process.
I'm guessing there will be a few more curveballs along the way. But barring any immediate changes, NFL teams can formally sign those undrafted rookies starting at 10 a.m. ET Tuesday and can also begin negotiations with draft picks, their free agents and undrafted free agents. Be prepared for a wild few days of news.
Unless that changes, of course.
Here's a quick roundup of news and notes from around the NFC North:
- The Chicago Bears are moving Chris Harris back to his more natural strong safety position, opening up the free safety spot for Major Wright. Danieal Manning, a free agent, isn't expected to return. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune has more.
- Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com has an early look at the undrafted rookies the Bears are pursuing.
- Dan Pompei of the Tribune considers possible veteran free agents for the Bears, including Justin Blalock and Harvey Dahl of the Atlanta Falcons.
- Former Bears punter Brad Maynard, speaking to Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times after learning he would not return to the team, implied that he did not get along with special teams coordinator Dave Toub. Maynard: "I'm not surprised at all. There was one person there, and he and I didn't see eye to eye. I did the best I could with what I was asked to do. There were times I was asked to do things where I told myself, 'There's no way I can do this,' but I kept my mouth shut and did the best I could."
- Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press: "We've got a plan that we have laid out for quite some time now about how we want to build this team, and that was a philosophy that we communicated to you guys back a couple years ago. That philosophy is shared by [general manager Martin Mayhew] and [coach Jim Schwartz] and myself, and we're going to stick to that philosophy about how you build the nucleus of this team and how we have built the nucleus of the team."
- John Niyo of the Detroit News expects the Lions to be active in the trade market.
- The Lions will have meetings and a conditioning test for players Thursday, notes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.
- Most of the Green Bay Packers' training camp practices will be scheduled during the evening, according to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
- Pete Dougherty of the Press-Gazette wonders if the Packers will move Bryan Bulaga to left guard.
- The Packers are hoping to visit the White House to meet President Barack Obama sometime this month, writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Packers running back John Kuhn plans to test the free-agent market, writes Tyler Dunne of the Journal Sentinel.
- Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press wants the Vikings to sign veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
- It hadn't been rumored to be an issue, but Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said tailback Adrian Peterson will report to training camp on time, notes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com. Peterson is in the final year of his contract.
- The Vikings will add about 30 players over the next week, notes the Star Tribune.