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Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Who can gain from lengthy lockout?

By Pat Yasinskas

Football Outsiders has an Insider post saying that the lockout actually could help Green Bay’s chances of repeating as Super Bowl champions.

The article also mentions the Giants, Steelers, Seahawks and Patriots as other teams that could benefit from the lockout. I’m not going to dispute any of that. But, as I said in this post back at the start of the lockout, I think the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons belong on any list of teams that might benefit from a lengthy lockout.

Let’s start with the Saints. Yeah, they’ve got a long list of potential free agents, some who may be restricted and some who may be unrestricted. But you have to figure general manager Mickey Loomis has plans to keep most of the key guys. New Orleans also has a veteran coaching staff -- Sean Payton now is the dean of NFC South coaches -- that is largely intact. This is also a team with a lot of veteran players who know how to win.

But, more than anything, I think the Saints would be just fine if they miss most of the offseason and even part of training camp for one simple reason. Drew Brees could sleep, play golf and negotiate a new labor deal all summer and still roll out of bed on a Sunday in September and throw for 350 yards and four touchdowns.

The Falcons are pretty similar. They’re coming off a 13-3 season and Mike Smith, his coaching staff and system are now very entrenched. Atlanta has a nice mix of veterans and young players. And, most importantly, I think Matt Ryan could roll out of bed on a Sunday in September and throw for 275 yards and three touchdowns.

As I mentioned in the March article, I think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers have a lot more to lose in a lengthy lockout. They were the two-youngest teams in the league last year and both are committed to their youth movements. The Bucs were very much on the rise last season, but they still need some practice time together, although I do think Josh Freeman has the ability to cushion some of that blow.

The Panthers are in an even tougher spot. New coach Ron Rivera needs the offseason time to install his system and get familiar with his players. Let’s take it a step further and say the Panthers take Auburn quarterback Cam Newton with the first overall pick in next week’s draft. And let’s say the lockout wipes out all of the offseason workouts and most of training camp. In that scenario, Newton won’t even be able to look at a Carolina playbook until the lockout ends.

Anybody think Jimmy Clausen can roll out of bed on a September morning and go out and throw for 75 yards and three interceptions?